Red at Night

Red at Night by Katie McGarry

published on April 1st 2014 by Harlequin Special Releases
Young-maybe-new Adult | Contemporary | romance

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In Red at Night, Stella and Jonah are total opposites. She’s the girl with purple hair from the wrong part of town. He’s a high school senior who hangs with the cool crowd. Until a car accident leaves him haunted by guilt, and Jonah starts spending time at Stella’s favorite refuge…the local cemetery.

Stella knows she should keep her distance—after all, she spent her girlhood being bullied by Jonah’s friends. Once he’s sorted out his tangled emotions, Jonah won’t have time for her anymore. Too bad she’s already fallen for him.

REVIEWThis is the part where you all glare at this review through your screens because this is the first work I’ve completely read by Katie McGarry. (I’m going to get an umbrella in case you guys want to virtually throw tomatoes at my face.)

Okay, so, this is probably one of those books where your perspective and interpretation of the book will greatly affect whether you’ll like it or not. Sadly, I’ve interpreted things in a bad way.

Anyway, I thought Red at Night is one of those books where a lesson or two can be learned and realized. The sad thing is, I was basically half-asleep while reading and just wanted to shove forks up the characters’ throats for almost the entire book.

“Don’t you dare ever hope for more. There’s no such thing as living happily ever after or pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. The world is how it is and there always has to be bottom-feeders.”

This book put so much negativity and hopeless thoughts inside my brain. All Stella could think about was what a shitty life she had/has. Come on, girl. Everyone has problems, but we also look at the bright side of things, right? I found it really difficult to connect with her because of the bad vibes that just seemed to radiate off her. Also, I thought her character was really weak and she just basically gave up on everything so quickly. Maybe some of you could say Stella’s this way because she’s a realistic character… I would disagree. There is such a thing as TOO MUCH negativity.

Ah, and I hated how disrespectful she was to the people who were trying to help her. Look at this:

“Know what, if it’ll keep you off my back, you do what you need to do and I’ll do what I need to do. Until then, stay away from me.”

This just makes me really sad. But yes, I know a lot of teens are disrespectful to their elders. This scene really threw me off guard, though.

Jonah was an odd character. I couldn’t really understand his intentions or his thoughts all that well. He was a “complex” character whose thoughts and emotions were seriously jumbled up and all over the place. I don’t think any of Jonah’s actions or words are ever justified. You can’t expect me to be okay with this!

So, this book taught me a new formula: 1 toxic/negative girl + 1 confusing guy = a whole lot of angst and a generic love story. Everything about the book just seemed bland. We’ve seen it all before. Also, nothing/no one’s ever given a proper backstory. I understand that this is just a novella with 80-something pages, but I want to know WHY things and people are the way they are.

The writing style was just okay. I didn’t get a lot of substance out of it (okay, let’s say ZERO feels), but I guess I can see why Katie has a lot of fans. Oh, and I really appreciate how Katie inserts some realistic little life tidbits every now and then (like having that ONE teacher who gives a test on the first day), where I just scream, “I know! That happens to me, too.”

I still do want to try out Katie’s other works, since I believe that this may be her weakest considering she crammed an entire story into 80+ pages only. Her full-length works are bound to be better, right?


You’re a fan of Katie McGarry? Read this one. Not a fan or haven’t read from her? Definitely don’t start with this one. Try out something else by the author. That’s definitely what I should’ve done. Now I have a slightly bad impression of the author. Damn my poor judgement of picking what books to read first!


Skulls 1.5

1.5 skulls


Are you going to throw tomatoes at me since this is my first Katie McGarry read? Are you a KM fan?

For some odd reason, Aimee’s completely fine with the way too fast pacing in short manga, but when they happen in short stories or novellas, she just gets really pissed off.

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26 thoughts on “Review: Red at Night by Katie McGarry

  1. I’ve read all of Katie McGarry’s books, and I’m a big fan. I did like Red at Night, but it is a novella, and I always end up wanting more from them because they are so short.

    I felt like Stella was so negative because she didn’t want to hope for more and be disappointed yet again. I have known people like this, so I did understand where she was coming from.

    Jonah I liked but never quite connected to as much as I would have liked, but that’s probably because this is a novella.

    I do hope you give McGarry’s other books a try. I’ve loved all of them.


    1. I will definitely still give McGarry’s books a shot. :D Pushing the Limits has been recommended to me by a ton of readers.

      Personally, I do have negative thoughts when I think something’s just going to end badly for me, but I don’t think negatively about everything. One thing is one thing and shouldn’t be associated with the rest of the world. That’s my take on it, anyway. :)

      Jonah… ah… Hm. He was sweet-ish towards the end (really it’s that table scene that I look forward to all the time), but other than that, I couldn’t click with him. :(


  2. I haven’t read anything by Katie McGarry. A have a couple of her books sitting in my iBooks library that I just haven’t gotten to yet. Thanks for the review, I was going to start with Red at Night but I’ll try Pushing the Limits first :)


    1. I have an eBook of Pushing the Limits but haven’t read it, either.

      Based on a few other reviews, I do think other readers also felt like this is Katie’s weakest, so maybe you should start with Pushing the Limits. :)


  3. I haven’t read anything from her and this is her first book that I TBR-ed!!! But I’ll follow your advice. Maybe I’ll start with Pushing the Limits? I’m not sure with the title :P

    Anyway, I have bad luck when it comes to New Adult genre, that’s why I’m hesitant to read anything from her. :( I know, I’m so judgy. But I’ll definitely give her books a shot. I don’t have a choice anyway, I already bought them =)))


    1. Yep, that’s it! :D I’ll have to pick that one up soon, so I can really get a taste of McGarry’s writing. :)

      SAME HERE. (Excuse me while I hug you.) I’d like to give a stink-eye to NA in general, but I know there HAS to be some good NA out there. :) HAHA! I’m waiting for the hardcovers because they’re so pretty *_*


  4. I’ve read only one book by katie McGarry (Crash Into You) and really loved it but i haven’t read her other books yet although I plan, too. I think there is a lot of negativity that Katie likes to incorporate into her characters and while that isn’t always a bad thing i’m sorry it just didn’t work for you Aimee! I can totally see why and especially since this is a novella and everything was most likely rushed it might have just felt like the whole structure of the characters and who they were and all was under developed :/
    Hopefully you enjoy your next read, more!


    1. If the characters do see things in a negative light, I would prefer it to be in a realistic way and not with all this.. darkness. I’m not sure I make sense. ;P But I do really believe that her other books will be better. :D


  5. I’m a huge McGarry fan, but I actually haven’t read any of her novellas. I’ve read all four novels (twice over for the first three!), and LOVED all of them! So I highly recommend reading a full novel – I actually suggest Crash Into You first. All four books are amazing, but CIY was the first one I read and I think it’s a great entry into the entire series. THE FEELS AIMEE. THE FEELS <3


    1. WHOA. xD Really, Kayla, you’re like a reading machine! :P So it’s alright to read the books even if they aren’t in the right order? :) Okie dokie then :D


  6. I have never read anything for Kate McGarry but I do have this one and her first book (I think) so I have to keep in mind not to read this one first. I do understand why you picked this up though, a novella is easier to read and get into and it is a great way to try out an author but maybe because her books are so angsty (at least I think so) that it needs to actually be full length for readers to be able to properly connect with the characters. Awesome review, Aimee! :)


  7. Aw. so sorry you didn’t love this one! I love Katie McGarry and though I did give Pushing the Limits 5 stars, it’s more like 4 now. But I also enjoyed Red at Night and gave it 3 stars. It was enjoyable for me. Stella did have much negativity with her character, but I think it’s somewhat understandable considering her situation. Maybe you won’t like any of Katie’s novels in this series then since.. All the MCs (one of the two main couples) are all broken, poor, from foster system and do not accept help lightly. But they’re also written in more depth sincethe books are a lot longer. Jonah was just.. yeah. I loved him, but had issues too. Sorry this wasn’t for you, lovely!


  8. I also hate it when a teenager shows blatant disrespect to her parents or to elders in general. I mean, it’s alright if it’s warranted, like they are abusive or something, but if they’re not even harming or hurting you and want to reach out to you, and you repay EVERYTHING with vitriol, well, I don’t know. It really just rubs me in the wrong way. In any case, I don’t feel like reading this one. Everything you say here are things that would drive me up the wall, definitely.

    Faye at The Social Potato Reviews


  9. After reading the disaster that was Crash Into You, I’ve kind of put myself on an indefinite break from NA books. It’s so disappointing that this wasn’t that good as well, because Katie McGarry is my favorite NA author so far — I adored both Pushing the Limits and Dare You To. *sigh* Good things don’t last, I guess?

    Yeah, I’m so tired of all these angsty and negative contemporary books. Are all uni students REALLY that emo all the damn time?! What happened to sunshine and flowers and cute relationships that are actually healthy? I just want to give Stella a hard slap to the face and tell her to snap out of it. But I’m wondering if there was actually a good reason for her to be so negative, apart from being bullied? Because if there isn’t, then that just makes the book a hundred times worse, in my eyes. T_T

    Also, nothing/no one’s ever given a proper backstory.” — This is one of the huge reasons why I don’t like reading novellas. Most of the time they don’t do anything to help the main plot, and the character developments are shoddily done. You can still create believable and in-depth characters in 80-pages, you know?

    Don’t think I’ll be giving this one a go. And Aimee, if you ever do check out anymore of Katie’s books, just read Pushing the Limits and Dare You To, ‘kay? Crash Into You was like an extended version of this, so… nope. :P Great review as always! You always know how to make me laugh!


  10. Aww…it’s a shame that this was such a letdown for you Aimee! :( I can definitely see where you’re coming from though…the whole zero substance and underdeveloped / annoying / confusing characterization doesn’t sound much of a perk. :| Jonah just sounds downright confusing and Stella just sounds so rude and annoying. It’s easy to see how you had difficulty connecting to them and their romance! :D

    Nonetheless, I do want to try something by McGarry, but I definitely won’t start with this. Thanks for sharing, and, as always, BRILLIANT review! <3


  11. I’m a huge fan of Katie McGarry but this doesn’t sound that appealing. Too much negativity can really put me off. I just sit there and think “WHY YOU BE SO SAD FOR NO REASON?!” Plus, I feel like this is too short for me to really understand the characters and too connect with them. I’d probably be left confused about why each character is doing what as well. Lovely review as always! Thank you for sharing!


  12. Yeah I’d probably say this is one of her worse works. It was a tad too negative for me too! A bit too dramatic as well…I liked it more than you though- I still thought it was fairly decent, enough for me to like it (which translates to a 4 star rating for me).

    Her other works are similarly pretty dramatic/angsty as well, but they’re backed up with a lot of character development (which makes sense, seeing as though they’re full length novels rather than novellas). I’d definitely give her other books a go! :)


  13. This was my first proper Katie McGarry too, though I wouldn’t say proper since I flicked through it and wasn’t that impressed either. I mean, I’ve heard so much about her other ones that I was really hopeful about it, but yeah. :( But, maybe it is just because it’s a novella. Get the angst thing though, I love my angst but it has to be balanced out, but I guess you can’t really balance it out within a short story. But, no reason to give up on her books yet, right? :)


  14. *puts tomatoes back in the fridge*. I can’t blame you for not liking the book. I understand that novellas sometimes utterly fail in delivering a story, and I guess when I read it I was biased because I already loved Katie’s work so much. But I’m glad you’re not writing her off completely! Yay for second chances. Hope your next read proves to be much better!


  15. Bleh, I haven’t enjoyed a single book of hers since her debut novel, which I think was only because I was relatively new to the genre. Is it bad if I say I’m glad this book was bad, or at least not suited to your tastes? Because then I won’t feel this lingering doubt or temptation to READ IT. Which I don’t want to but my brain is stupid so what can you dooooo?


  16. Excellent review Aimee, you pretty much captured how I feel about all of Katie McGarry’s books, they are kind of stereotypical romances with damaged characters. I’ve read Red at Night and pushing the limits and they were similar in that respect, so I don’t know if you’d enjoy the series. I kind of found it kind of meh, but I know lots of others love it.


  17. Novellas are tough to review. I was lucky to read a few ones that were actually good but sometimes I come across pieces that felt crammed. I guess the limited number of pages do hinder the author from doing more character/plot development. But still, you know when it’s almost good and when it doesn’t take off at all. Thanks for the warning, Aimee. :)


  18. so you know what you did wrong, im not gonna scold you! for that matter i recommend “pushing the limits”, that’s the one worth reading from this author.
    Great review, you are also right this is her weakest work, i am her fan and even i didn’t’ liked this one. i completely agree with everything you’ve said – too much angst and negativity and neither character was likable (or rememberable for that matter).


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