Rating: 5 stars
Age Recommendation: Young Adult +
Warnings: Violence, Character Death, Potential Trigger Warnings (character torture, explained below)
Genre: Fantasy, Science-Fiction, Fairytale Retelling
“What’s stupid is not that I’m going to try and protect you,” Wolf said, pulling his focus back down to her. “What’s stupid is that I almost believe it will make a difference.”
Scarlet continues the story that Marissa Meyer began when she wrote Cinder, this time telling a version of Little Red Riding Hood that I most certainly did not expect. Scarlet Benoit is a girl of about sixteen, who is living on her own in France, trying to run the family farm. Sure, she has help from farm hands, and the androids running about. But her grandmother has been missing for several weeks, and Scarlet is starting to panic. No one believes that her grand-mère could have been kidnapped, especially after her father left them. There are a lot of things that Scarlet doesn’t know about her family, though, and they are all about to come crashing down in front of her.
Without mentioning any spoilers, I am going to let you guys in on the secret as to why I liked this book. Yes, it’s true that I very much enjoyed reading the first installment in the Lunar Chronicles. But this book has three new characters, all of whom I loved, and none of whom did what I expected them to do. That’s the thing. I would think I knew what would happen, and then Wolf or Scarlet or Captain Thorne would take it in a completely unexpected direction. Even Cinder and Kai, our main characters from the previous novel, have returned to make things interesting.
As Cinder and her new friend, Thorne, go looking for answers, Scarlet does the same. She needs a bit of help, though, and finds it in a fairly mercurial street-fighter named Wolf. Sometimes he acts much like his name suggests, going from angry to looking like a scolded puppy. But the rest of the time, he seems very genuine in wanting to help her, seems like he knows some of the answers to Scarlet’s problems. But boy, did she get something quite different than she bargained for.
Scarlet is a very strong lead character in my opinion, as she is willing to do anything in order to save her grandmother and find out the truth that has been hidden from her throughout her life. Meyer’s plot choices are bold and actually quite brave for someone writing to a Young Adult audience. As I mentioned in the warnings section above, there is a fair amount of violence, but the way it’s written leaves no question in the reader’s mind as to what has happened. Everything is described incredibly well, and it’s almost as though I was watching it happen in front of me, or a little film was playing in my head throughout.
The other thing that surprised me about Meyer’s plot was the mention of character torture. None of it is presented within the pages of the book, but it is referenced and the consequences are explained and shown to another character, which may be uncomfortable for some readers. I do feel that it is a brave choice to make on the author’s part, though, and I was actually quite impressed when I came across that part of the plot.
It was not surprising to me that the romance aspect of this novel was at the forefront a lot of the time. But, and I say this with the knowledge that it might sound strange to those who have not read it, I think that it needed to be a main focus. Yes, this book has action and science-fiction and magic that I don’t want to spoil for anyone. But the relationship driving this novel is incredibly important, and I actually think that a great deal can be learned from it if one wishes to find the lessons there. It lacks the typical YA romance dynamic of a weak female character and an over-protective male character. Sure, the two I’m thinking of have their moments, but it isn’t half as trope-filled as the other romances I’ve seen recently. If it sounds like I’m excited about it, I am. Because we get at two more books of this as far as I know.
Am I looking forward to reading Cress and Winter, you ask? Oh, absolutely.