Monday, 14 April 2014

Review | Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

by Marissa Meyer

My Rating: 

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 the second novel in Marissa Meyer's The Lunar Chronicles, a YA Science Fiction series that gives the fairy tales we all know and love a futuristic twist!

At the end of Cinder, the first novel in the series which I reviewed here, our cyborg heroine broke out of prison after she discovered who she really was. Cinder's part in the second installment picks up pretty much where we left her, and she escapes the prison with Captain Thorne, a fellow prisoner, in tow. Luckily for her Thorne happens to own his own ship.

Across the world in Europe, far away from the hustle and bustle of New Beijing, Scarlet Benoit is desperately trying to find her grandmother, a retired pilot, who has been missing for over a week. The day she is informed the police are stopping their search, Scarlet encounters a street fighter named Wolf who bears a tattoo on his arm; a tattoo that Scarlet's drunken father informs her is similar to the tattoo on the arms of her grandmother's captors. Together, Scarlet and Wolf journey to Paris.

Like Cinder, Scarlet was a lot of fun to read and it was great to be back in the world of The Lunar Chronicles. I'm really quite attached to the place!

I'm even more attached to Cinder herself, who has quickly become one of my favourite literary heroines, so it was lovely to follow her around again and to see her beginning to develop a sense of who she is and what she wants despite the fear she's feeling. Plus I loved the friendship that developed between Cinder and Thorne - I've said it before, but I don't think there are enough purely platonic male/female relationships in YA.

Scarlet's story was equally fun to follow. I absolutely loved that Meyer wrote her version of the Grandmother as an ex military pilot - I keep saying this, but that's just cool!

Not only that, but I enjoyed the way the two tales were woven together by the role of Scarlet's grandmother in Cinder's past; it feels as though the Benoits have been set up as Cinder's protectors, and her supporters as well, and the poor girl is in need of both!

I loved the relationship between Scarlet and her grandmother, too. Any of you who have been reading my blog posts for a while are probably sick and tired of hearing me talking about positive female relationships in YA (and in every other genre) but I'm never going to stop talking about how important they are. They're particularly important in stories like these ones which are based on fairy tales. How often are the villains in fairy tales Evil Queens, Wicked Stepmothers or Witches?

In The Lunar Chronicles alone we have Queen Levana, Sybil and Adri, all of whom are villains in their own right. That's why it's so important that this series also gives us positive relationships like the ones between Cinder and Peony, and Scarlet and her grandmother. Throughout Scarlet, not once does Scarlet even consider giving up on searching for her grandmother, and when circumstances force her to face the rest of the world alone she makes damn sure Cinder isn't going to let her grandmother's sacrifice go to waste.

Obviously I couldn't talk about Scarlet without talking about the relationship between Scarlet and Wolf.

I have to admit that while reading Scarlet I had very mixed feelings about the romance that blossomed between the two. Wolf is the kind of character I like; I love reading about brutes with a heart of gold, which is probably due to my love of the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, but I couldn't help feeling that Scarlet and Wolf's relationship looked an awful lot like instalove. In fact that's pretty much why I gave this book 4 stars rather than anything higher, though I still really enjoyed the book.

I suppose we could argue that their instant attraction was a tribute to the love stories in all the original fairy tales, or that it was a very base, animal attraction to a man who, at first glance, seems rather base and animalistic himself. Even so, I do prefer it when characters fall in love after knowing each other for more than two days!

I thought this book was a brilliantly fast-paced sequel, and now that Cinder's beginning to accumulate supporters of her own it's clear that Levana's going to have a real fight on her hands. If you enjoyed Cinder, then you'll definitely enjoy Scarlet.

Thanks for reading! J.

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