Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles #2)
Feiwel & Friends/ February 5, 2013 / $17.99 print, $9.99 digital
Cinder returns in the second thrilling installment of the 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 and 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 has no choice but to trust him, though he clearly has a few dark secrets of his own.
As Scarlet and Wolf work to unravel one mystery, they find another when they cross paths with Cinder. Together, they must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen who will do anything to make Prince Kai her husband, her king, her prisoner.
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer shifts the setting for the well-known fairytale “Little Red Riding Hood” to a far-future Earth. The heroine’s red hood is changed to a beat-up red hoodie, the grandmother was in the military, and the wolf does not run on four legs. It’s a Young Adult science fiction novel with ongoing romances; you can read an excerpt or a get a First Look at Book 1 in the series, Cinder, here on H&H.
In Cinder, we learned that the Queen of Luna, having seemingly murdered her young niece to take power, wants to marry the Emperor Kai and take over his Commonwealth, from there taking over the rest of the Earth. Meanwhile, dissidents search for the rightful Lunar heir, whom they believe survives. The world is full of technical advances such as Artificial Intelligences and cyborg body parts, but is also threatened with a terrible plague.
This plot continues in Scarlet, growing more complex with the introduction of new characters and a new romance. When the story opens, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother has been kidnapped because she potentially knows the princess’s location, and Scarlet is searching for her. She soon encounters Wolf, a dangerous but attractive stranger who knows more than he’s telling.
The relationship between Scarlet and her grandmother, Michelle, was my favorite thing about this story. The parallels to “Little Red Riding Hood” are there, but enriched so we can clearly see the reasons why Scarlet loves her grandmother and will head into terrible danger in order to find and hopefully rescue her.
Though the police believe Michelle left of her own accord, Scarlet knows her grandmother well enough to interpret the clues differently.
She’d even missed Scarlet’s eighteenth birthday, though she’d bought the ingredients for Scarlet’s favorite lemon cake the week before.
…They all believed her grandma was crazy, and that’s what they’d told the police…Not that she made the best éclairs this side of the Garonne River. Not that she’d served her country as a military spaceship pilot for twenty-eight years, and still wore a medal for honorable service on her favorite checkered kitchen apron.
Her grandma was out there somewhere and Scarlet was going to find her if she had to dig up dirt and blackmail every last detective in Europe.
Later, Scarlet shares with Wolf some of the reasons that she and Michelle are so close.
“…when I lived with my dad, I used to throw fits and tantrums, break things and make up stories and anything I could, just to get his attention. To get him to care. But I never did any of that with Grand-mère. We would sit in the garden on warm nights and just talk, and she would actually listen to what I said. She treated my opinions like they were valid, like I had something worthwhile to say.” Her eyes fogged as she stared into the ashes beneath the flames. “Half the time we’d end up fighting with each other, because we have such big opinions and are too stubborn to admit we’re wrong about something, but there would always reach this point, every single time, when one of us would be yelling or just about ready to stomp away and slam the door, and then my grandma would just start laughing. And she’d say that I was just like her.” She gulped, tightening her arms around her knees. “She’d say that I was bound to have a tough life, because I was just like her.” Scarlet rubbed her palms against her lashes, smearing away the tears before they could fall.
Scarlet is a fast, fun read and an excellent sequel to Cinder. I can’t wait for the next book, to find out what happens to Scarlet, Wolf, Cinder, and Kai.
Victoria Janssen is the author of three novels and numerous short stories. Her World War One-set Spice Brief is titled “Under Her Uniform” and is a tie-in to her novel The Moonlight Mistress. Follow her on Twitter: @victoriajanssen or find out more at victoriajanssen.com.