It has taken me an absurdly long time but I have finally continued on with this series. And I am glad I did because it was so wonderful to be back in this world with these characters. I enjoyed Scarlet just as much, if not more than Cinder. This was another incredibly fun and exciting ride with an eclectic and loveable cast of characters. Even though these novels are starting to feel a bit young for me, I still absolutely adore this world and these tales. A fast-paced, heart-pounding ride from beginning to end, Scarlet is a wonderful installment in an already fantastic series.
Scarlet is the second novel in The Lunar Chronicles, a series of four novels, each loosely based on a classic fairytale. In this novel, we pick up exactly where the previous one left off. Cinder is making her escape from prison with a rather unexpected companion, Carswell Thorne. Meanwhile, Scarlet Benoit’s story begins. Her grandmother has suddenly gone missing and she is desperate to find her. However, no one in law enforcement seems to want to help her, so she decides to take matters into her own hands.
When Scarlet meets a street fighter named Wolf, she finds out that he might be the key to finding her grandmother. So, reluctantly—at least at first—she teams up with him to solve the mystery. Along the way, their path crosses with that of Cinder and Thorne—fugitives on the run—which leads to even more mysteries and surprising revelations. This ragtag group of heroes must stay one step ahead of the evil Queen Levana, figure out how to save Prince Kai, and not get caught in the meantime.
I have always been a massive fan of reading all sorts of retellings, particularly fairytale retellings; I have found myself tending to gravitate toward them a lot, especially in recent years. A reimagining of a classic tale is tricky to perfect, and while you do not want an exact copy of the original, you also do not want a retelling straying too far or going wild with strange twists and concepts that detract from the main message. But Marissa Meyer is a genius at this.
This fairy tale retelling is a lot more loosely based on the Little Red Riding Hood tale as opposed to Cinder, which I felt followed the tale of Cinderella a little more closely. While I absolutely adored Cinder and love retellings that stick pretty close to the original, Scarlet ends up being even more exciting and unpredictable. Just like with Cinder, however, I definitely feel that this novel lands perfectly in that area of unique yet still faithful to the original fairytale.
I’ve said before, I do find that it can be difficult to reinterpret a story in a unique yet solid way, and it definitely tends to be either a major hit or a huge miss. The plot that Meyer created for this novel, however, was spot on once again. She skillfully weaves sci-fi elements into this already established and well-known narrative. She builds characters that remind us of those in the old tales but who are distinctive and fit perfectly into her world and the reimagining. Meyer creates a novel that not only pays homage to a timeless tale but also ends up being a very singular story in itself, and it is distinctively her own.
We have some excellent additions to the cast of characters in this series on top of the amazing ones already involved. I really love Scarlet. She is another strong female lead who can hold her own. And her personality is so dynamic. She can be sassy and sarcastic but also tender and caring. She comes across as being a truly beautiful person. I am looking forward to seeing more of her, in particular, her relationships with Cinder and Wolf.
I also understand now why everyone always raves about Thorne—he is the greatest. I am so excited to see more of him in the next few novels, but he is already one of my new favorite characters of all time. And then there’s Wolf. My Wolf (…wait, did I say that out loud?). I am not someone who finds book boyfriends too often, but I think we’ll have to make an exception for Wolf. And I do really love seeing him and Scarlet together. They have a lot of chemistry from the very start—the way they play off each other is done so well. And I’ll admit it, I’m definitely shipping them.
Cinder is still as incredible as ever. She is such a strong heroine—intelligent, brave, unwilling to give up even after all the upheaval she is experiencing. She is facing seemingly impossible odds, but she pushes forward. And at the same time, she is not perfect. We get to see her flaws, her insecurities and anxieties. This adds a great amount of depth to both her story and the entire plot as a whole. She is a beautifully well-rounded character and it is interesting to see how she evolves over the course of these novels.
Once again, I really enjoyed Marissa Meyer’s writing. She has a talent for transforming these tales into something so unique, enchanting, and full of intriguing technology and magic. Her words flow beautifully and make her stories so easy to get sucked into. She has again created some great visuals with her incredibly vivid descriptions and well-developed settings. She further brings the world to life around the reader by making almost palpable emotions and an atmosphere to match. This draws the reader in and allows them to put themselves in every situation the characters are dealing with.
I think I’ve probably made this abundantly clear after all this gushing but I seriously loved this book and this series remains one of my all-time favorites. I loved immersing myself in this world again and getting to explore it even further. I particularly enjoy learning about all the fascinating and unique technology that it is filled with, and we get plenty of that in this novel. The plot is very fast-paced and exciting and had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. I never wanted to put it down. I cannot wait to move on to the next book, which I have a feeling I will be doing very soon.
Scarlet, by Marissa Meyer, is a modern dystopian mix between Beauty and the Beast and Little Red Riding Hood. This sequel to Cinder takes on a new character- Scarlet Benoit- in her home of future France. Although Cinder is still present throughout the novel, the action and suspense come from Scarlet running her family farm, meeting the street fighter, Wolf, and trying to find her missing grandmother. Scarlet and Wolf seem at odds throughout the novel but still in love, or at least connected.
I found this novel intriguing because of the way the author morphs commonly known stories into a new and relevant storyline. I appreciated how Scarlet is always wearing a red hoodie and seems to protect herself without needing to be saved by a knight in shining armor. Her lack of trust in other individuals but fierce loyalty to those she knows and loves is something I can empathize with in my own life.
“It would be easy to abuse a person when they never recognized it as abuse.”
This quote really stuck out to me because it's something I think about often. I constantly wonder how people in this world continue to abuse others on a macro- and micro- scale. Some people are mean and manipulate friends or family to gain something of self-interest. But more often than I would like to admit- young adults are abusive or allow others to be abusive because they do not see it as abuse. Until the world starts to educate people and people start to learn and listen and grow, I fear that this will never change.
Another quote that really spoke to me in the novel is this:
“I just think we shouldn't judge her, or anyone, without trying to understand them first. That maybe we should get the full story before jumping to conclusions. Crazy notion, I know.”
I make an effort to consistently see things from another's person's perspective and understand things through their lens before assuming intentions or motivations. I think that it's a skill people should develop in a world where people are trying to understand each other and become more peaceful.
There was a moment in the book when Scarlet thought this of Wolf:
“Her mind emptied of everything but the gusting wind and how fragile Wolf looked in that heartbeat, like one movement could break him open.”
I feel like this moment was special because it is only when someone allows their vulnerable side to be seen that another can trust and love them completely. Although Wolf didn't realize that's what he was doing, this moment allowed Scarlet to let her guard down and really empathize with Wolf.
I was raised by a village of incredibly strong women. They believed things were possible- and worked to make their dreams a reality. I think that part of that was the ability to be supported while you educated yourself and worked for your dreams, and part was the words behind the actions. The words spoken in small moments between the women were something like Scarlet's grandmother said to her:
"You'll be fine, she always said, after a skinned knee, after a broken arm, after her first youthfull heartbreak. You'll be fine, because you're strong, like me."
Overall I think the book is worth reading. It has pirates and princesses, cyborgs and AI, farms and future. Everything you could want from a dystopian futuristic fairytale. If you like The Hunger Games, any fairytale, or dystopian novels- you should read this book!
Book 2 of the Lunar Chronicles is the New Age retelling of the classic Little Red Riding Hood story. Marissa Meyer's blends Little Red Riding Hood into the character of Scarlet Benoit, and then seamlessly blends it with the characters from her earlier book, Cinder. I won't spoil the connection here but loved the suspense that built up throughout the book as you struggle to try and guess which character is going to play which role as the story goes forward.
Scarlet starts off the story looking for her lost grandmother, much as in the original telling, but then replace the path through the woods with a high speed train, some forgotten memories of her Grandmere from her youth, everyone wondering who Princess Selene is, and a questionable relationship with a boy that you just met, and you got most of her wonderful character development in the book.
You also get introduced to the Wolf early in the story. While you can see him easily as the reformed villain from the original tales, I found myself blending a bit of the Beast from Beauty and the Beast into the character as well, but that probably wasn't the intent of the author.
The plotting of the story is told at a break neck pace and picks up right from the last lines of the previous books. The world building was already somewhat in place from the previous book, and your conceptions of the original tales carry over to the way I picture the settings in these. The author manages to keep the romance levels blended with the suspense and action to keep all readers involved no matter what type of book you are looking for.
Recommended reading for all Once Upon a Time fans, children that aren't afraid to get lost in the woods, and anyone that starts to experience unexpected hair growth and the desire to howl at the moon.