Author: Marissa Meyer
Series: Lunar Chronicles
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Publish Date: February 5th, 2013
Genres: Young Adult, Steampunk, Romance
Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.
Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer is the second installment in the Lunar Chronicles, a futuristic, sci-fi series which is loosely based on popular fairy tales, such as Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and Rapunzel. And I mean very loosely. There are only so many similarities that exist between well-known fairy tales and futuristic YA novels.
Scarlet picks up immediately where Cinder, the first book in the series, leaves off. The plot follows the lives of two very different characters: an imprisoned cyborg who escapes from a high-security prison and an ordinary farm girl whose grandmother disappears without a trace. The only thing these characters have in common is a knack for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, which is a recurring theme throughout the book. In a desperate race against the clock to save those who matter most, their paths cross and they are forced to work together to achieve a common goal.
I read Cinder over a year ago and only had a vague recollection of the plot and characters. Fortunately, Scarlet briefly, yet effectively, summarizes the first book in the series, which immediately jogged my memory. As I mentioned previously, no time has elapsed between the two books. I prefer series in which one book picks up precisely where the previous book left off, leading to a much smoother transition between books. Overall, the plot was exciting and fast-paced, managing to capture and hold my attention. It was, however, fairly predictable; there were minimal unexpected plot twists.
Meyer introduced a wide range of new characters in this book. The most notable of these is Scarlet, who has traded in her scarlet cape for a red hoodie and replaced her basket of goodies with a handgun. Despite her prominent role in the book, Scarlet is one of the weakest characters. If I had to describe her in a single word, I would choose “naïve.” During the entire book, she was a bit slow on the uptake, always lagging several steps behind the other characters. Scarlet was also extremely impulsive, often acting without thinking. As a result, many of the less than ideal situations which she encountered could have easily been avoided.
We are also introduced to “Captain Thorne,” an internationally-wanted criminal, thief, and womanizer. His sarcastic and witty remarks provide some necessary humor to lighten up the overall dark mood. Readers also meet the big bad Wolf, sporting long, pointy canines and everything. He fails to live up to his namesake in the tale of Little Red Riding Hood, proving to be a conflicted and tortured character beneath his bad boy appearance.
That brings us to some of the returning characters from Cinder. Let’s start with Kai. I was tempted to kill him on the spot on multiple occasions during this book. All of his charm from the first book had completely vanished, leaving a weak and indecisive character in his place. He came off as a jerk in this book, especially considering some of the poor decisions that he made. Contrary to Scarlet, Kai is overly circumspect, weighing the various consequences of each decision countless times; yet he still manages to select the worst possible course of action. Cinder serves as a perfect medium between the two. She’s direct and to the point, bordering on blunt at times. She’s strong-willed and confident, a rare combination of traits for female protagonists. Undoubtedly, she was my favorite character in both Cinder and Scarlet.
One of my only complaints regarding this book was the lack of chemistry that existed between Cinder and Kai in the first book. The two do not interact a single time in Scarlet, which I found disappointing. I suspect that Scarlet and Wolf’s romance was meant to replace that of Cinder and Kai, but I feel that it did a poor job. While I enjoyed reading about Scarlet and Wolf, it seemed strange that Cinder and Kai simply faded into the background, completely disregarding their attraction toward one another without a second thought.
Meyer does an excellent job of intricately weaving together the storylines of two independent characters with seemingly no connections whatsoever. Her writing style is easy to read and allows the plot to flow smoothly from one event to the next. Readers are left with a significant cliff hanger in the final chapter. Therefore, I’m interested to see how Cress will embody the story of Rapunzel and am anxiously awaiting its release in February.