In Cinder, Marissa Meyer wove a clever, compelling retelling of the Cinderella story into a science-fiction/post-apocalyptic world. In Meyer’s version, not only is Cinder indentured to her stepmother and two stepsisters, but she is also a cyborg, renowned mechanic, and (although she doesn’t know it) the answer to a decade-long mystery. The earth she lives on is a futuristic, plague-ridden planet, filled with technology and federated governments. I enjoyed Meyer’s originality and strong characters and was excited for the sequel in the projected 4-book Lunar Chronicles. I am happy to report that Scarlet, the second book in the series, is not just good, but even better than the first.
Scarlet is Meyer’s reimagined Little Red Riding Hood, complete with grandmother and “wolf.” The book seamlessly picks up where Cinder left off, and see-saws between the two character’s stories. A quick synopsis:
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 a little older than Cinder, which allows Meyer to appropriately mature the story, and where there was perhaps more innocence in Cinder, there is a fuller, more robust story to be found here. Especially as it pertains to the action sequences and the sizzling romantic tension between Scarlet and Wolf. Meyer also continues to flesh out the world of this futuristic earth, and its new terror under the Lunars (people from the moon, who possess particular abilities to “glamour,” or manipulate anyone to do their bidding).
The comic relief in this book comes by way of Captain Carswell Thorne – a dashing young con artist who inexplicably reminds me of Han Solo – and Iko, Cinder’s personal android and friend, who is “reincarnated” (for lack of a better term) as the auto-control system of a huge spaceship. Neither character adds a whole lot to the story, but without them, I’m afraid the story would be too earnest for its own good. The best they do is offer a balance to Scarlet’s intensity and Cinder’s indecision over what to do next.
As with Cinder, I am most charmed by how cleverly Meyer weaves Little Red Riding Hood into this new world, and how strong the main characters are. Scarlet is a compulsively readable book, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the series. Word is that soon we will meet Rapunzel and Snow White, and I can’t wait.
*Disclosure: Affiliate links included.