Review of “Scarlet” by Marissa Meyer

Note: There are necessarily spoilers for the first volume in this series, but not for this installment, Book Two.

I loved Cinder (see my review, here) and am delighted to say I was not disappointed at all with this second in the planned fairy tale tetralogy known collectively as “The Lunar Chronicles” and set in the future. The first story was inspired by “Cinderella,” and this second is a reworking of “Little Red Riding Hood.”

Cinder is a cyborg mechanic in New Beijing, over one hundred years after World War IV. (Cyborgs are humans who are part metal, having received artificial parts to compensate for damaged flesh. Cinder is only 64% human because of a near-fatal accident when she was a child. There is a great deal of prejudice against cyborgs, who are considered second-class citizens.) While most of Cinder’s story in Book One resembles an updated version of “Cinderella,” the ending is a bit more disastrous than the traditional. More of that below.

In Book Two, we continue Cinder’s tale but it is now intermixed with what is happening to Little Red Riding Hood (a.k.a. Scarlet Benoit).

As the story begins, Scarlet, just 18, is living on a farm in Rieux, France, and is frantically searching for her grandmother, who has been missing for over two weeks. The police dismissed the case: after all, Michelle Benoit is a grown woman, and there was no evidence of foul play. But Scarlet knows her Grand-mere would never have left just before Scarlet’s eighteenth birthday, nor would she have pulled her ID chip out of her wrist. Scarlet found it, bloody, on the kitchen counter.

Meanwhile, the netscreens even in France are full of broadcasts about sixteen-year-old Linh Cinder, the cyborg girl from New Beijing who crashed Emperor Kai’s coronation ball and then was revealed to be a Lunar. She was immediately imprisoned. (The Lunars are a race of people on the moon who seek control of earth. They have a number of genetic enhancements and powers that have unfortunately been bent to nefarious use. Mind control is only the beginning of what they can do. Their evil Queen Levana has threatened Kai that unless he marries her so that they can combine their kingdoms, she will send her forces to destroy the Earth.)

Kai, as you might imagine from the “Cinderella” parallels of Book One, fell for the lowly cyborg Cinder, but felt betrayed when he found out she was Lunar. Now, to add to his pain, he must swallow his revulsion for Levana and agree to marry her in order to save the planet. (And you thought it was asking a lot of you just to recycle your bottles to save the planet!)

Meanwhile, back in Rieux, Scarlet has met a new guy in town, a street fighter named Wolf, to whom she reluctantly feels attracted. Wolf claims to have information about her grandmother and agrees to help Scarlet in her search.

But Grand-mere isn’t the only one who goes missing. Cinder, with the help of a fellow prisoner, Carswell Thorne, escapes the jail in New Beijing and is now on the run from both Lunar and Earthly pursuers.

Evaluation: Meyer figures out how to make these two updated fairy tales intersect in a creative and non-contrived way, so that the cast of utterly charming characters is doubled with remarkable ease. I loved both Scarlet and Wolf. Cinder’s new partner-in-crime, Carswell, is also quite endearing. This is a very entertaining story: full of suspense, romance, humor, and courage. Yes, it’s also replete with stock roles and doesn’t have a huge amount of world building, but it’s a fairy tale, after all, and I think it uses the customary tropes quite nicely.

I look forward to the next installments!

Rating: 4/5

Published by Feiwel and Friends, an imprint of Macmillan, 2013

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14 Responses to Review of “Scarlet” by Marissa Meyer

  1. sandynawrot says:

    I’ve considered reading Cinder quite a few times (and only didn’t because of the other books sitting on my bedside table, STARING at me). I even suggested it to my daughter. I didn’t realize it was a “chronicle” but I should have known. I’m still interested…

  2. Yay! I liked Cinder a lot, and am waiting impatiently for Scarlet to arrive from the library. 🙂

  3. Heather says:

    I just started listening to Cinder so I didn’t read much of this review as I’d like to avoid spoilers. But I’m encouraged by the fact that you like this series so much!

  4. Charlie says:

    I haven’t actually read about the series before. I like how the retelling is quite far from the “original”, it’s nice to have a wide variety of new ideas. A bit surprised that there isn’t much world building though!

  5. I really should get this series for my sister – it sounds right up her alley.

  6. zibilee says:

    I read and loved Cinder, and have been awaiting this book for awhile now. I can’t wait to read it and discover what happens next. I also think it’s pretty creative that she melds two fairy tales into one story and that it works out well. Great review today, Jill!

  7. I skipped down to your evaluation just in case, and I’m delighted you enjoyed these two and that Meyer managed to connect them — I have Cinder — I can’t wait to start!

  8. Bookworm1858 says:

    I liked Cinder but I ended up loving Scarlet-this book just upped the action so much! I do wish there had been more for Kai to do since I love him and I worry that we’re going to have too many characters to keep track of but I will trust in Meyer for now.

  9. Beth F says:

    I know I’d love these … Must get to them … Must find time.

  10. I loved Scarlet as well. I can’t wait for the next book. I surprisingly didn’t make the Little Red Riding Hood connection. Makes sense…lol

  11. bookingmama says:

    Isn’t it great when the second book isn’t a letdown?

  12. I’m listening to this one right now…loving it!

  13. Lisa says:

    Time for me to get on the ball with this series!

  14. stacybuckeye says:

    This is one series I want to continue with. Looks good 🙂

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