Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Review: Scarlet - Marissa Meyer

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #2
Genre: YA, fairytale retelling, science fiction, futuristic
Published on February 5, 2013
Published by Feiwel and Friends
Pages: 454
Read From: 3.21.13 - 3.23.13

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, is awaiting execution at the hands of the Lunar Queen Levana, so she attempts 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. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information about 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 Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? I don’t like it quite as much as the cover for Cinder; it’s just kind of bland. But I love the title font and the red cloak is very pretty, I’ll admit, and it does give a clear indication of what fairytale the book is going to explore.

Characters: Cinder continues to be pretty awesome. Her emotions get the better of her a few times in this book, but she eventually gets over them and does the smart thing, even if it’s not quite what she wants. She goes through the “I’m a monster!” phase for a couple of chapters, but gets over that in a timely fashion as well, thank goodness. I still don’t quite know what to think of Scarlet as a character. She’s a pretty classic/cliché redhead in the sense that she has a quick temper and tends to lead with her emotions more than logic. She spends a lot of the story perpetually angry and feeling betrayed, and normally I hate girl characters like that. It makes them seem bitchy and like they have a chip on their shoulder. But with Scarlet, I could understand her anger and betrayal. Her only family had been kidnapped and the police aren’t doing anything about it. At least she takes action, and she does think her plan through somewhat (not as much as I would, but she does her best, I suppose). The only thing that keeps her from having The Attitude is she never pulls feministic arguments - and she packs a handgun, so she doesn’t have to engage in any ridiculous hand-to-hand combat that she would totally lose in reality. But I’m still not sure how I feel about her as a character. I don’t dislike her, but I don’t really like her, either, and I would be all right if she wasn’t in the story. However, I accept her importance to the plot, so I’m equally okay with her being there. Despite my uncertainty about Scarlet, I have a definite opinion on Thorne: he’s obnoxious, and I look forward to the day that he dies. I think he’s supposed to be funny and kind of charming, but the effect is lost on me. I tolerate him, but I don’t like him. Wolf, on the other hand, I absolutely adore. No, not the fan-girl adore; I adore him for the kind of character he is. He’s quiet and shy and even a little awkward. He’s the sort of guy that if I saw him standing in the rain, I would feel so sorry for him, because he would look so unfortunate and depressed. And yet, Wolf still manages to maintain something of a mysterious air without being overly grim. I still like Kai well enough, but is he seriously not yet figuring out why Levana is so intent on capturing Cinder? I don’t expect to put all the pieces together perfectly, but he doesn’t even seem to be suspicious. I do, however, like how Kai has conflict over what to think of Cinder. He doesn’t believe entirely in her innocence, but he also has difficulty accepting that she’s as dangerous as everyone is claiming.

The Romance: I’m not a big fan of the Scarlet/Wolf pairing. Wolf deserves someone with a gentler nature. But I’ll give them this: at least they both acknowledge that they’ve known each other for too short a time to really know whether or not they’re properly in love. Still, I would rather they had a good brother-sister relationship, and not a romantic one. Despite the synopsis, however, the romance isn’t really all that prominent, thank goodness.

Plot: Like in Cinder, there’s a lot happening in Scarlet. In Cinder’s plot, she’s escaped prison with Thorne, and is now on her way to France in Thorne’s ship to find the woman who knows about her past - who happens to be Scarlet’s grandmother. Meanwhile, in Scarlet’s plot, said grandmother has disappeared, Scarlet meets Wolf - a mysterious, quiet street fighter who knows who took her grandmother. So they set out on a journey to track her down, discovering along the way that the Scarlet’s granny knows something that the people who took her want. And then there’s Kai’s plot, which basically serves to keep Readers abreast of the political situation between the Commonwealth and Queen Levana. In splitting up the characters into three groups, and giving them a couple of chapters, and then switching to a new set of characters, the Author keeps the different plots and twists running smoothly and comprehensively. And then, when the characters meet up, the Reader knows who is who, what’s going on, and the two stories meld cleanly into one. The story, as a whole, is very exciting, with not quite as many twists as Cinder, but still some surprising events - some predictable, some not. I was never bored at any point in the story, between the character developments, revelations, and seeing how the Author integrated the story of Little Red Riding Hood into everything else (and she does a very good job; this might be my new favorite retelling of that particular story). She even managed to make werewolves cool, and that’s a feat; I don’t like werewolves, but her twist is awesome, and fits into the world she’s created very nicely. During the whole book, I kept thinking, If she throws werewolves into this, that’s just going to be weird. I was proven wrong.

Believability: Not applicable.

Writing Style: Pretty much the same as Cinder: not really pretty, not it fit the story well, wasn’t overly movie-ish, and somehow she managed to make the technical details comprehensive. We get to explore more of the story’s world than in Cinder, and while I still feel like I’m not seeing as much of it as I could, there’s still two more books to go, and I am content to learn about this place over the course of many volumes.

Content: None, beyond a bit of violence that isn’t graphic, but a little messy.

Conclusion: It’s literally heart-pounding. The end could have taken several different turns, and I wasn’t sure which one the Author was going to choose. I was genuinely afraid for Wolf’s life, because I wasn’t sure if the Author would kill him or not - either option would have the story in new and interesting directions. I was never worried for Cinder’s life, of course, because without her there would be no story, but she could have been captured, badly wounded - any number of other things. It’s been a while since I’ve read something that actually caused me to hold my breath in anticipation. Scarlet was, in short, a success. It was every bit as good as Cinder, if not better. I personally think it was better in the way that a second book in a series is supposed to be, and I cannot wait to see what happens next.

Recommended Audience: Girl-and-guy read, thirteen-and-up due to some violence, fairytale retelling fans who are looking for something new.

Others in The Lunar Chronicles:

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