I read Rose Sees Red because the only Cecil Castellucci books I’d read before were her comics for the Minx imprint a few years ago, and supposedly she’s one of the queens of YA. This was okay, but not as good as Plain Janes (the first one at least).
Rose Sees Red is set in the 1980s, which she doesn’t actually tell the reader until maybe halfway through the story. You can tell beforehand that something is off about the setting though because of the ominous nature of having Russians live next door, and KGB jokes and comments about David Bowie and leg-warmers. But honestly, all of that could fit into a story about today, except when the kids go to a No Nukes rally. There are signposts that tell you this is either the past or an alternate reality (the obvious signifier of the World Trade Center standing shows up, as it must in any story about pre-9/11 New York). I wonder if it was set up to be a puzzle to make the reader feel clever for figuring out it’s in the ’80s, or if she thought it was completely obvious and therefore didn’t require any indication.
Anyway, the story is about a girl who used to have friends but then chose to dance so she now has no friends except for the Russian girl from next door who appears in her room one night and they go to a party and experience the wonders of art on the streets of New York.