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.
So when I read Cinder last year and was, not going to lie, a little disappointed, I was unsure of whether or not to continue the Lunar Chronicles series. But other readers assured me that the second book, Scarlet was even more amazing than (or at the very least, a vast improvement on) the first and I thought, “Why the Hell not?” I’ll admit, the thing that really sold me on this was the promise of new characters. I know a lot of Cinder fans were anxious about this, but LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD AND A STREET FIGHTING WOLF? Count me in.
And I was a fan from the beginning. Wolf’s Bill Compton-esque introduction as the mysterious stranger in town, his early implication as the bad guy, and his attempt at a reconciliation of his ‘You should stay away from me’ feelings with his ‘but actually, the closer you stay the easier it is for me to protect you’ feelings! And Scarlet basically just dismissing all of this with an amused smile as she tries to focus on the real issue of saving her Grandmother. It’s one of my very favourite dynamics.
So yes, there’s romance but I felt like the characters stayed true to themselves. For example, despite having a rugged man protecting her bodily at every turn, Scarlet stayed on track, playing detective and remaining fiercely loyal to her family. There was about two sentences of swoony behaviour, but then she got right back to the task at hand. It was nice to read about a teenage character somewhat compartmentalising her romantic feelings.
Anyway, if you know anything about the Little Red Riding Hood faerietale, then you can probably guess how the whole ‘Wolf’ storyline plays out, but where that very thing annoyed me in Cinder, I found myself interested to see how it would happen in Scarlet. Of course, there’s the whole sci fi aspect, and when you combine that with the Queen’s agenda you come up with something a little different. Being so enamored by the new characters, it kind of irritated me to have the story keep switching back to Cinder, and even worse, back to Kai. I know most of the ‘big picture’ story line involves Kai and Queen but, eh, I’m still indifferent. Cinder really grew on me though. Over the course of, oh, what was it? A week? I feel like she really grew up and was much better off because of it. It’ll be interesting to see if that continues in the next book, and how the other characters change, as well.
Scarlet’s (mostly) believable plucky heroine and Wolf’s remorseful could-be villain played straight into some of my favourite story tropes and while I could have done with a little less Cinder, by the end, everyone was pretty much one big happy family, setting the stage nicely for this year’s Cress. And oh, man, that very last scene in the kitchen? There had better be some more where that came from.