September 25, 2013

Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Release Date: February 2013
Publisher: Macmillan | Feiwel & Friends
Pages: 454 pages
Series: Lunar Chronicles #2
Source & Format: Bought; Kindle ebook
Amazon | Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads)
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 of the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When she 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.

Thoughts on Scarlet
Yes, I'm well aware that the title of this post comes from the "Three Little Pigs" and not "Little Red Riding Hood." But, honestly y'all, there's only so much my brain can do sometimes. I've clearly reached the limit on my cleverness for the day.

So, anyway, let's discuss the book at hand. I remember picking up Cinder earlier this year with a little trepidation. I'm all for trying new things, but a cyborg Cinderella just seemed like a little too much for me. I kept putting off reading it, and I was finally convinced almost every single person who commented on my Top Ten Tuesday "Series I Need to Start" post indicated that I was living my life wrong if I didn't start that book immediately. Because I'm agreeable to following directions, I did what everyone told me and read Cinder. While I appreciate the creativity, I found it somewhat disappointing. I chose to do a mini-review instead of a full one, which you can read here, but I did note that I'd already purchased Scarlet and planned to continue with the series despite my so/so feelings on the first book in the series.

AND OH MY GOODNESS, YOU GUYS, THAT WAS ONE OF MY BEST READING DECISIONS THIS YEAR.

Okay, deep breath, and I'll stop yelling. I included this in my post yesterday about my ten favorite sequels, so I'm assuming you can guess my feelings on this one. This was a make-or-break book for me - I knew that I was either going to quit or continue with this series based on my reaction to this book. I'm very happy to report that this just sold me on Meyer's talent and made me excited to see where she goes with these characters.

While Cinder was a re-imagining of Cinderella, Scarlet gives us a version of Little Red Riding Hood. And boy did I love it! I'd previously noted that Meyer's creativity and world-building was so commendable. I think the two things that I was missing in the previous book was a connection to the characters and stronger interest in the plot. Well, both items were delivered in this one!

I adored Scarlet - a young girl in France who realizes that her grandmother has gone missing. She's determined to find her, and she enlists the help of the dangerous Wolf in order to do so. Scarlet is a kick-ass leading lady. She's taking no prisoners, and she's not backing down from a fight. Since this book also continues Cinder's story, I also appreciated that I felt as though I got to know her better and appreciated her character more than I had before.

And the boys! Wolf is intense and fierce and everything you'd expect from someone named Wolf. I mean, gracious, he is a man of complications and contradictions. Do I need to say more? No, I think not. I also so enjoyed Captain Thorne. He was such wonderful comedic relief, but I love that he also had depth. He's not just there for the laughs - although he certainly adds a needed lightness to a few intense moments. I also began to see a different side of Kai, and I felt like I was more invested in his story than I had been before. I still loved Wolf more, but I'll give Kai more credit than I would have with the last book.

Also, I appreciated the plot so much more in this book. I don't know if it's because I was never sure what was coming (whereas I felt as though the climax in Cinder seemed liked kind of a given) or just that it moved more briskly as the drama was heightened. Either way, I was racing through this story! All the pieces start falling into place, and it just left me so impressed with the way Meyer has plotted this book and tied all these separate strands into this masterful work of art. I love how you can still that there is so much that's going to happen, but I also felt so satisfied by everything that happened in Scarlet.

I know, I know. Have I gushed enough? I'm so happy I continued with this series and y'all I GET IT NOW. Okay? So you can save all your "oh I'm sad this one disappointed you" and just be like "of course you loved it so tell us something we didn't know." If you're like me and only liked Cinder, I certainly encourage you to give this book a chance. And you already loved Cinder (most of you, I'm sure) then you'll probably be happy to hear that I'm planning on re-reading Cinder to see if my feelings for it have changed.

So Quotable
"She kept a hold on her people by tricking both their eyes and their hearts. She ruled with fear, yes, but also with adoration. It would be easy to abuse a person when they never recognized it as abuse."

12 comments:

  1. I haven't read these yet! One of my students checked Scarlet out the other day, so I know our library has it. I might just have to take it home and give this series a whirl. Although I have to admit, I'm reluctant when it comes to fairy tale retellings... that's usually NOT my cup of tea. But maybe since you liked Scarlet, maybe I will too! Great review :)

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    1. Yeah, I am definitely not crazy about fairytale retellings. If the books didn't build on each other so nicely I'd tell you to just skip straight to Scarlet but you can't do that. These books just fit together. I didn't love Cinder, but I totally fell for Scarlet. Keep me updated if you end up reading it!

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  2. One of my most favorite things is when a series that I was previously hesitant about gets more complex and BETTER. I felt the same as you did about Cinder. I liked the book, but wasn't blown away by it. But then I read Scarlet and fell in LOVE. I like that the storytelling has gotten stronger as we've introduced characters and are still following old ones. I love that Wolf is such an alpha but vulnerable where relationships are concerned, and that Scarlet matches him so well. Also I like what you said about the storyline feeling more surprising. With Cinder I was looking for how the book mirrored the fairytale - and thus I was a tad disappointed by the end, but with this story I let go of that and was able to just enjoy where Meyer took me. I feel so invested in this series and am salivating for Cress now!

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    1. Yes, exactly! Cinder was good, but not as amazing as everyone made me think it would be. I felt like I could predict everything that was going to happen. But once I realized that Meyer was having all these different fairytales intersect in this world she'd created?! I was hooked! Like you said, it's so complex and the storytelling and character development has just gotten better since that first book! Agree with you about the fact that I was able to just read this one without comparing it to the fairytale itself. I know that helped me love it more!

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  3. I'm sooooooo excited to read this one! I have had it on my shelf since March, but have now planned to wait and read it and Cress at the same time. Especially given how much Magan was just gushing over Cress! And then I found out that there's ANOTHER book coming after Cress? I don't know how much longer I can wait?!?!?

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    1. I know! I thought about waiting for Cress, too, but I just can't do it now that there's more books beyond that. It's just too long to wait! I'm DYING to read Cress now that I've really fallen in love with this series. I say stop waiting and just go for it! HAHA!

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  4. I'm like you - I only liked Cinder, but I wasn't blown away by it like everyone else seemed to be. But I'm so glad you found Scarlett to be better! I love it when a series gets progressively better (like Julie Kagawa's Blood of Eden series :D), and Wolf and Captain Thorne sound like amazing characters, so I'll definitely be sure to check this out. Thanks for the review!

    Chri @ Fathomless

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    1. YAY! I'm so happy that 1) you kind of felt the same way I did about Cinder and 2) I've got you curious enough to give Scarlet a chance! I liked these characters and this storyline so much more, and I have a feeling it's just going to get better from here. Hope you enjoy!

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  5. YES YES YES YES. Isn't this book so fantastic!? I loved the plot a lot more in this book too -- SO many more twists and turns and you really get to see how each characters' story really is entwined with the others.
    Wonderful thoughts on this! So happy you loved it!!!

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    1. YESSSS! It really is so wonderful! I totally agree on the plot - it just got so much better in this one! And I stopped looking for how it compared to the fairytale and was able to just enjoy it for what it is, which is a FANTASTIC read :)

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  6. I could NOT read this one fast enough! I think you're right that the expectations and world building were already established, so we could get RIGHT to the plot! And the action. And of course the swooooon. :)

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    1. I know, right? I think I spent so much time in Cinder anticipating what was going to happen because duh I had a feeling since I knew the fairy tale. In this one, on the other hand, I was able to just fall into the world and the action without trying to compare it or figure out the ending. AND THE SWOON. <3

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