Rating: 4 stars
Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. The police have closed her case. The only person Scarlet can turn to is Wolf, a street fighter she does not trust, but they are drawn to each other. Meanwhile, in New Beijing, Cinder will become the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive – when she breaks out of prison to stay one step ahead of vicious Queen Levana. As Scarlet and Wolf expose one mystery, they encounter Cinder and a new one unravels. Together they must challenge the evil queen, who will stop at nothing to make Prince Kai her husband, her king, her prisoner…
*Please beware – spoilers for Cinder*
Although I still rate Scarlet very highly, I have to admit that it was my least favourite of the three books currently available. However, I must say from the start that this is not the book’s fault. In fact it’s largely to do with my own pet peeve of being a bit sick to the back teeth of anything vaguely werewolf-esque. Thankfully the literary world seems to slowly be moving on from Vampires and werewolves, because it was getting to the point where I felt like shouting at publishers that, honestly, there are more mythical creatures out there!
That said I knew what I was walking into – Red Riding Hood re-imagined in all Meyer’s sci-fi glory. As such the wolfy characteristics of the aptly named ‘Wolf’ are integral to the developing plot and definitely justify their place. There were very clear stakes in place here and, although it was still our heroine setting out to save a family member, it had a different tone to Cinder’s quest to cure Peony in the first book. Scarlet and her grandmother were their own little family unit and it was nice to see a loving guardian/child relationship after Cinder’s bad experience with her stepmother.
My only quibble was that the back-story was so interesting – and Scarlet’s Grandma such a cool character – that I was really more interested in that then what Scarlet and Wolf were doing in the present. Having the grandmother as a former pilot/resistance fighter doo-dah was very, very cool and I wanted more of her than we got. If Meyer ever dips back into the Lunar Chronicles universe after Winter, then I’d really like to see her tackle the resistance movement around Cinder’s escape.
Nevertheless, I really loved the antics of Cinder, Thorne and Iko and I suppose I just wanted more of them – greedy I know. I loved Cinder’s entrance into this second novel, it was really interesting seeing her through Thorne’s eyes and I enjoyed the dynamic that developed between the trio. The bit were Iko realises she’s now a ship ‘I’m huge!’ was hilarious and I liked seeing her get to grips with existing in a different form.
Watching Cinder try and get to grips with her Lunar heritage was also really interesting and added another dimension to the story. Allowing us to see Lunar powers from both sides – those being manipulated by them and those trying to control their use of them – proved very intriguing. The section where Cinder finds the place she spent her childhood – sorry to be vague, I’m trying not to give too much away here – was brilliant and completely punched me in the gut. It was good for Meyer to do something a bit different, with a lot of emotional impact and it really built Cinder’s character for me.
I think the best thing about this book – aside from the antics of Cinder & co. – is that you really get to see the plot starting to tie together. Lavana’s scheme starts to reveal itself, Kai continues to come into his own as Emperor and the back story of how Cinder came to be on earth begins to become clear. It builds well towards the finale and sets up promisingly for the third book – Cress – the review of which will be coming up next…