I came late to the game last year with Cinder by Marissa Meyer, so I was determined to jump in sooner with this year’s sequel, Scarlet. It was a great read, and now I’m eagerly waiting to see where she’ll take the adventure in the next book! Read my review of Cinder here, and be warned, there will be spoilers for that book in this review for Scarlet.
Cinder is a sci fi fairy tale retelling, featuring a cyborg Cinderella (who leaves her foot on the palace steps!) The last book ended with Cinder under arrest, soon to be handed over to the vicious, mind-controlling Lunar Queen. Scarlet brings in several new characters, starting us off with title character Scarlet, whose beloved grandmother recently disappeared. She’s soon pulled into a much larger and more dangerous game than she realized, and reluctantly accepts the help of a mysterious street fighter she knows only as Wolf.
Meanwhile, Cinder swiftly breaks out of jail and goes on the run, by accident and necessity working together with Carswell Thorne, conman, smuggler and thief. The stories converge when Cinder and Carswell also end up on the trail of Scarlet’s grandmother, everyone intent on what secrets the woman could be hiding.
As you’re probably already guessing, this volume brings in “Little Red Riding Hood,” though only in the loosest sense. I do love it that Scarlet wears a red hoodie, though!
The split plotlines gave me some trouble at first–I kept wanting to be in the other one, whichever one I was currently in–but once I got adjusted to that, I very much enjoyed the book. Meyer ratchets up the stakes and the conflict, and introduces us to some excellent new characters.
I have a soft spot for charming rogues, so Carswell was a great addition. He’s a very arrogant criminal who expects everyone else to be as impressed by his exploits as he is. He brings some humor into a frequently dark book. Scarlet is a good character as well, a fierce young woman who is determined to forge ahead and deal with things. I hate passive heroines, and Scarlet is anything but. Wolf is fascinatingly complex. I have kind of a thing for dark, brooding heroes too, and he’s a wonderful blend of strength and wariness. He’s immensely capable about some things (see: street fighter) but so nervous about others (like romance). I love that blend.
My favorite character from the first book was also back, though I would have liked more of her…Iko, Cinder’s android friend. She was dismantled in the last book but Cinder saved her personality chip, and in this book installs it into their spaceship. Iko’s freaking out about whether she’s still attractive as a spaceship (“But I’m so huge!”) is absolutely wonderful.
Scarlet is living in France, and her search for her grandmother eventually takes her to Paris. Being me, my first thought was, hey, maybe there’ll be an Opera House reference! So imagine my delight when it turns out the kidnappers have actually made the Opera House their base. 🙂 This is set a long stretch into the future, so we get to go wandering through the crumbling but still recognizable remains of the Opera House, including the grand foyer, the marble stairs, and the auditorium. Loved it.
The book takes a turn near the end, and I’m not sure how I feel about it. For one thing, it suddenly gets a good deal more violent, and I could have lived without some of the blood. For the other, possibly larger thing, some details are revealed on the Lunar Queen’s army, and I’m not sure if I like where this may be going. But I can’t really tell, until the next book comes out!
I enjoyed Cinder and I think I may have actually liked Scarlet a bit better. Or maybe it’s just fresher in my mind. Either way, it didn’t disappoint, and I’m looking forward to #3! The title is Cress, so I’m thinking…Rapunzel, maybe? 😉
Author’s Site: http://www.marissameyer.com/
Buy it here: Scarlet