‘Scarlet’ lives up to ‘Cinder’

March 27, 2014 Book Reviews 8 ★★★★½

‘Scarlet’ lives up to ‘Cinder’Scarlet Series: Lunar Chronicles #2
on February 5, 2013
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Also in this series: Cinder, Cress

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 is terrific. There’s no “second-book syndrome” about this novel! Marissa Meyer expertly alternates between the stories of Scarlet and Wolf, and Cinder and Thorne, a rogue and spaceship thief Cinder picks up during her prison break, and keeps you turning the pages as fast as your eyes can follow.

Scarlet is another strong heroine – strong, but not invincible, and decidedly not sensible. She’s determined, even fixated, on finding and rescuing her missing grandmother. I empathized with her immediately, even when I felt she was being foolhardy. Wolf is harder to know for a number of reasons. His backstory unfolds slowly, and it  and its implications are chilling. Their story is, of course, a loose retelling of “Red Riding Hood”, complete to Scarlet’s red hoodie. (As an aside, how many authors would think to intertwine the stories of Cinderella and Red Riding Hood?) It is, however, very loose, and it’s not quite clear for much of the novel whether Wolf is the wolf, the huntsman, or both.

When Thorne entered the scene, I was afraid Meyer would succumb to the ubiquitous and over-used love triangle, but thankfully she avoids doing so. Thorne — a budding Han Solo if I ever saw one (but less scrupulous, especially when it comes to other people’s property) — is attracted to Cinder, true, but no more than he is to other girls he sees; as I said, he’s a charming rogue. (Come to think of it, Captain Jack Harkness might be a better analogy than Han Solo, though Thorne limits his flirting to the opposite sex.) Cinder doesn’t think of Thorne in those terms at all, and still has feelings for Kai, though she tries to ignore them. Meyer develops Cinder still further in this novel, as she learns more about and begins to come to terms with her abilities and her past.

It would have been easy to make Levana into a stock Evil Queen, but the author hints at things in Levana’s past which contribute to the nasty piece of work she has become. I hope to see more of Levana’s backstory as the series continues; I have a feeling it is significant. Kai makes a few appearances in Scarlet as well, but the main focus stays on the separate, then intertwined stories of Scarlet and Cinder.

I don’t know if Marissa Meyer had the entire series planned out when she wrote Cinder, but it certainly reads that way so far. The way she weaves fairytales and dystopian SF together is wonderful; the way she ties the various plot threads together is masterful. I can hardly wait to see what she comes up with in Cress… and in Winter, which won’t be out until next year, keeping us all on tenterhooks until then.


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Recommended for: fans of Cinder, well-written YA, fairytales, and SF
The Lunar Chronicles: 
1.  Cinder (review)
2.  Scarlet (review)
3.  Cress (review)
4. Winter (review to come)






About Marissa Meyer

Marissa Meyer’s first book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder, debuted on the New York Times bestseller list. She lives in Tacoma, Washington, with her husband, daughters, and three cats. Her favorite non-bookish things include Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, re-watching episodes of Firefly, and playing all manners of dress-up.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • TBR Pile Reading Challenge 2014

8 Responses to “‘Scarlet’ lives up to ‘Cinder’”

  1. Elisa Bergslien

    I loved Cinder but was a bit less enthralled with Scarlet. I liked it but clearly I have more trouble with insta-love than other readers so it throws me off more. On the other hand, I have Cress sitting on my shelf waiting to be read – I really do what to see what happens with Cinder and the Queen. I am not sure when I want pick it up since we have such a long wait for Winter.

    • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

      I don’t like insta-love, but I didn’t feel it was, exactly — at least not for Scarlet. (Wolf, maybe — but he’s got the whole wolf thing going on, which complicates things.) More like insta-attraction, which I’ve totally seen in real life. There wasn’t any of the “oh, we’re fated to be together for always” stuff that really grates on my nerves… and I noticed when I started Cress (still reading it) that Scarlet and Wolf’s relationship isn’t really resolved at the beginning of the book. BTW, at least so far (I’m only a few chapters in) Cress is good too – though Cress has an insta-crush, it’s very definitely a crush.

  2. Wendy Darling

    I was SO relieved there was no love triangle, too–and I agree, this sequel really does live up to (and imo, surpasses) the first book! So much fun. I’m really looking forward to reading CRESS. I’m just afraid of it because it’s so darned big, hah.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

    • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

      Yay for no triangle! I was dreading that. And so clever of her to stick in the Paris Opera House, with its Phantom associations (even though there’s really no mention of the Phantom.)

      I just had to take Cress back to the library only partially read. (Sobs quietly) I may have to break down and buy it for my Kindle. I don’t think I can wait to go through the horrendously long waiting list a second time.

  3. Stephanie Shepherd

    Great review and glad you liked it! This is a series where I feel like the hype isn’t wrong which is a breath of fresh air. I agree that it seems like Meyer had the whole series mapped out which I LOVE because I feel like a lot (but not all) of series suffer from that lack of focus and organization. I also liked the addition of Thorne and he becomes even more of an great addition in Cress.