Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
Published by: Feiwel and Friends
Genres: YA, Sci-Fi, Dystopia, Romance
For Fans of: the Legend trilogy, Fairy Tale Retellings, Werewolves, Flirtatious space captains.
My Rating: 3.8 stars out of 5.
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.
Personally, I’ve always preferred Little Red Riding Hood to Cinderella. So, I guess it’s not all that surprising that I preferred this book over Cinder. As with Cinder, Scarlet did have a few issues, which is why is hasn’t gotten anything higher than (yes, again) 3.8 stars. Let me show you the pros and cons.
1. Iko’s back. I love Iko. You should love Iko. Everyone should just love Iko.
2. Wolf, a new addition to the main cast, is a great character. We all know that broken and beaten characters that refuse to stay down hold a special place in my heart. This is Wolf. I love Wolf. I love his stupid hair ruffling self.
3. Thorne, another new addition, was charming and adorable and a general goofball. I liked him.
4. Cinder made… fewer questionable decisions than in the first book. I greatly appreciated that.
5. The pacing was good. Sure, it starts a little slow, like a rolling stone gathering moss, this book picked up speed as I progressed.
6. The plot was good, if predictable. I was so worried that I’d spend most of Scarlet watching Cinder and Kai be soppy and heartbroken due to events that took place in Cinder, but there was none of that here. The focus was on the war, the Lunar Queen, and the hunt for Princess Selene.
7. The fairy tale integration was just so much better with this book than it was with Cinder. I think this has something to do with the fact that it took way more liberties and didn’t force itself to stay firmly glued to the original story. Cinder‘s problem was that it tried a little too hard to convince readers that it was, in fact, a Cinderella retelling. Scarlet didn’t do that. It basically said, “Look, there’s a girl with red hair and a red hoodie. She meets a man called Wolf – who acts like a Wolf, and they go looking for her Grandma. FIGURE IT OUT YOURSELF” and honestly? That just worked so much better as opposed to Cinder’s, “Look, A girl named Cinder. Look, she has a foot that can come off WINK WINK. Look, the orange car that “LOOKS LIKE A PUMPKIN”. Look. She has an evil stepmother. DOESN’T SHE REMIND YOU OF SOMEONE?”
8. The female protags are still strong-willed and feisty. Which is why a lot of people fell in love with this series in the first place. You can kick em, but they won’t stay down.
1. As with the Cinder, it took way too long for Scarlet to understand what was going on. She was given SO MANY clues. But she was so blindingly focused on finding her grandmother and on her growing attraction to Wolf, that she questioned nothing. No, “My, what sharp hearing you have.” No, “What great sense of smell you have.” No, “Wolf, why the fuck do you have the canine’s of an actual wolf? No gang would ever do that. Tell me what’s going on.” IS IT THAT HARD FOR THESE GIRLS TO ASK SOME DECENT QUESTIONS? If this happened in real life, they’d have been brutally murdered about two chapters into the book. Lord. At least the original Red questioned shit.
ALSO, I remembered a little piece of information given to us towards the end of Cinder and figured out Cinder’s connection to Scarlet the minute I was told that Scar’s grandmother was missing. AT THE BEGINNING OF THE BOOK.
2. It took a while for me to warm up to Scarlet. It wasn’t that I disliked her per se, there was just something off about her character that, even now, I can’t quite put my finger on. It just bugged me, and I really wish I knew what it was so that I could tell you guys. Maybe if I figure it out later. Luckily, I did eventually end up sort of liking her, so it’s not too bad.
3. Writing in the third person is tricky. It’s tough, to show instead of telling – and I really wish there was more showing than telling here. The writing, while good, was a little… rigid, I suppose. “Wolf did this”, “Scarlet saw that”, “Cinder threw the thing”, “Thorne flirted with the thing” – lots of tell, not much show.
4. I, and I think I’m not the only one who did this, read The Queen’s Army, before I read Scarlet. Which means I knew exactly who Wolf was, and a lot of the story became predictable. (I think I still would have figured things out if I hadn’t read the novella, because a lot of the plot was just so obvious). All the little surprises involving Ran weren’t surprises, I knew that Wolf was playing Red right from the beginning (he was the alpha. If he’d deserted, the entire pack would have been on his tail to bring him to justice. Also, Red Riding Hood)
5. Scarlet’s and Wolf’s romance was a tad… baseless. It came out of nowhere. With Cinder and Kai, at least, we saw him being nice to her – a prince being the perfect gentleman to a mere mechanic, and never acting superior to here once. He flirted and confided in her and that made sense. But with Scarlet and Wolf… what happened to attract them to one another? In real life, if you found out that someone had been lying to you since the say you met them, your first instinct upon learning the truth would not be to kiss them on the cheek and fall instantly in love with them. I’m not saying that this is a bad pairing. I just would like to know how in blue blazes it happened.
6. I like details. I like knowing exactly what kind of world I’m in. What does the architecture look like? How’s the weather? What kind of plants will my protag see? Animals? Roads? Street fashion? I like to know these things. I like visualizing the story in my head. As much as I’ve enjoyed Cinder and Scarlet, I’ve got to say that the lack of description is disappointing. I didn’t even know that Cinder had brown eyes until somewhere in the middle of the second book.
7. I like them, but there isn’t a single smart character in this book, is there? Why does no one, (I’m looking at you Kai) question Levana’s insistence on capturing Cinder. Why does no one go, “Hmm, the Queen wants to stop looking for Selene, and is instead focusing all her efforts on apprehending that cyborg girl?” It’s frustrating. And then there was the whole thing with Kai accepting Levana’s offer for a marriage alliance. DUDE. It is a temporary solution. She will murder your ass the minute she becomes empress, and you’ll have gone and made the war 600 times easier for her to win. I know this seems like I’m just repeating Con #1, but there’s a difference between failing to piece together information given to you within a reasonable amount of time, and just being plain stupid.
Yes, I know it seems like my problems with Scarlet are stronger than the things I liked about it, but I still recommend it to people who enjoyed Cinder, enjoy strong-willed female protagonists, and don’t mind predictable plots and characters that aren’t particularly bright. if you mind those last two things, stay the hell away from this one.
I didn’t enjoy it, enjoy it. But I did like it. Enough that I’ll be completing the series, mostly just to see where it goes.