*This review contains some spoilers, especially if you haven’t read Cinder.*
“I think I realized that I would rather die because I betrayed them, than live because I betrayed you.”
Synopsis from Goodreads: Cinder is back and trying to break out of prison—even though she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive if she does—in this second installment from Marissa Meyer. 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.
Feelings: I’m continuing rereading the Lunar Chronicles in anticipation for the final book in the series, Winter, which released just recently. While I enjoyed Cinder, thinking it was well written and unique, I liked Scarlet even more. This one had a lot more action and a touch more romance than the first book in the series. This book introduced a new set of characters to us, while we stayed with our favorites as they continued on their journeys. We still got to keep up with Cinder and Kai, seeing their stories develop even more. Scarlet and Wolf were on a completely separate path that entwined with Cinder and Thorne, which was simultaneously bound with Kai’s…I love that! And in the end, our characters all found each other. I’m ready to dive into Cress out of anticipation for how the group dynamic will be now.
Issues: Honestly, I think the only thing I didn’t click with about this book was the wolf-like Lunars. Why would a moon based country decide to create hundreds of genetically modified soldiers that have wolf-like qualities? Wolves? On the moon? That was the only element of the fairy tale retelling that felt random and disconnected.
Characters: Scarlet and Wolf – I really love Scarlet. She’s strong and chalk full of attitude. She’s very different from Cinder, personality-wise, so she added a different flair to this series. Wolf is like a child, fascinated by everything. But, he’s also fierce and brutal in a fight…you want him in your corner. Scarlet needed someone like him in her life, someone willing to fight for her and who had her back. When it seemed like he would betray her, my heart broke for her. Their relationship won’t be easy, considering he has a frequent urge to kill and such, but they’ve got some raw chemistry. The scene about the Alpha Female had me grinning from ear to ear. That’s my favorite kind of YA romance – subtle, true, and real.
Cinder and Thorne – Thorne is such a fun character. Now that he’s joined the crew, it’s hard to imagine what the series was like without him. He’s arrogant and sarcastic…just what this cluster of personalities was missing. I was really hoping for some richer character development for Cinder and I got my wish. At first, she’s not sure that she wants to be Lunar royalty, but she does know that she won’t turn out anything like Queen Levana. As she attempts to gain control of her Lunar abilities, she’s figuring out who she is and where her place is in the world(s). By the end of Scarlet, Cinder finally sees her responsibility and has a huge surge of drive. The ending had me like CINDER, SLAAYYY.
Kai – Poor fella is captain of the struggle bus. He wants his people to catch Cinder to avoid a possible war with Luna, but at the same time he wants her to escape so she can be free. He’s in an impossible rut. Now he has to marry the yuckiest of yuckies. Kai is fiercely loyal and willing to do whatever it takes to protect his people…even if that means stepping into impending death. I’m still rooting for you, Kai and Cinder! I totally get a sense that this series will end in happily ever after for this couple.
Comparisons: Just like in Cinder, this fairy tale retelling was done in a wholly unique way. I knew that Scarlet was a spin off of the classic Little Red Riding Hood tale, but honestly the first couple of chapters felt more like Disney’s Beauty and the Beast to me. Scarlet’s grandma is the French town crazy (like Belle’s dad) who disappears (like Belle’s dad) and she seems to be the only one concerned (again, like Belle). Then the town jerk starts mouthing off about said missing family member and the hunky giant dude defends her. After that, though, it starts being a little more missing grandma and sneaky wolves.
Final thoughts: I can’t recommend this series enough. I’m really enjoying rereading them because I didn’t remember all of these wonderful details. There are some times when I pick up a YA book and it’s filled with a lot of adult content. These books, however, are exactly what YA should be. These are the types of books I can confidently (and comfortably) recommend to my students. If you’ve never read these books, do it. Do it right now. Stop reading my blog and read the books.
Pick this up if you liked:
Goodreads rating: 4.31/5
Amazon.com rating: 4.7/5
My rating: 4.75/5
Happy reading! – Caitlyn