Review: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

scarletScarlet by Marissa Meyer

My Rating: 5/5 TARDISes

Series: The Lunar Chronicles #2

Date Published: February 5th, 2013

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Pages: 454 pages

Source: Purchased

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: 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. When Scarlet 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.

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This is a spoiler-free review, but does contain some spoilers for the previous novel, Cinder.

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.

5.0 TARDISes

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Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

cinderCinder by Marissa Meyer

My Rating: 5/5 TARDISes

Series: The Lunar Chronicles #1

Date Published: January 3rd 2012

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Pages: 390 pages

Source: Purchased

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

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This is a spoiler-free review.

Cinder is the first novel in The Lunar Chronicles, a series of four novels, each loosely based on a classic fairytale. This story introduces us to the main character of the series, a talented cyborg mechanic by the name of Linh Cinder, as well as to the setting of New Beijing. Orphaned after an accident, she lives with her stepmother and two stepsisters. Despised by her stepmother Adri and stepsister Pearl, Cinder leads a life of servitude, working constantly both at home and at her repair stall in the market, and finding friendship only in her youngest stepsister Peony and an old android named Iko, whom she has repaired. However, Cinder’s life changes dramatically one day as she begins to play a key role in the government’s fight against the deadly plague that is overtaking New Beijing.

I am a massive fan of reading any sort of retelling, particularly fairytale retellings; I have found myself tending to gravitate toward them a lot over the years. However, I am always quite wary of these types of novels, especially with the sizeable upsurge of them in young adult literature recently. 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. An intense amount of hype surrounding a book is another factor that sometimes can make me cautious or put me off a novel. Cinder, I am very pleased to say, not only lands perfectly in that area of unique yet still faithful to the original fairytale, but also completely lives up to the hype.

Cinderella is one of my favorite stories to read retellings of. I do find that it can be difficult to reinterpret in a unique yet solid way, and it definitely tends to be either a major hit or huge miss. The plot that Meyer created for this novel, however, was spot on. She skillfully weaves sci-fi elements into this already established and well-known narrative, creating not only a work that pays homage to a timeless tale but also ends up being a very singular story in itself, and it is distinctively her own.

While this was not one of the more unpredictable novels I’ve ever read in terms of having a plethora of twists and turns that keep you guessing, it was still a remarkably enthralling read. I found myself deducing many of the plot points well before they happened, and yet I never once lost interest; I never once disconnected myself from the story.

Predictability is something that I have learned to expect from retellings, but the key piece to watch out for in a novel such as this is how the author makes up for that. Meyer does it right, and draws the reader in with every single aspect of the story. Though the plot twists are rather foreseeable fairly early on, the book remains deeply engaging until the final page.

Marissa Meyer’s writing itself was absolutely stellar. It flowed beautifully and was very easy to get into. This novel is packed with incredibly vivid descriptions and well-developed settings. I had a clear image of New Beijing in my mind the entire time I was making my way through this novel. She further brings this setting to life by creating a very realistic image of a people affect by and living in terror due to deadly illness beyond their control. The fear and paranoia was constantly palpable and allowed me to become serious immersed in this world.

On top of quality writing, and rich description and world building, another element of the novel that makes it such an engaging read is the all-star cast of characters that Meyer has created. The good characters are very easy to connect with and love, and the villains are exceedingly despicable. Cinder, in particular, stands out as an excellent protagonist; once I started reading, I very promptly connected with her and began to care about her and her story.

It is immensely intriguing and many times heartbreaking to see the story of this young cyborg girl in a world that discriminates against cyborgs. This ended up giving the story a great amount of depth and made it far more thought provoking than I had expected going into it. I completely fell in love with Cinder from page one, and this kept me on the edge of my seat, wanting to see how everything panned out for her. She is shaping up to be a strong, independent heroine and I am eager to see how she further evolves as the stories progress.

I loved the portrayal of Cinder’s friendships with Peony and Iko. Peony is an absolutely beautiful and loveable character, and I enjoyed seeing the relationship between the two of them. Iko is just fantastic and easily one of my favorite characters in the entire novel. These relationships were a perfect contrast to the difficult life that Cinder generally leads and the horrible treatment that she regularly receives.

And then there is Prince Kai. This is by far one of the best romances in a young adult novel in my recent experiences, primarily because it is not a huge, overpowering aspect of the plot. It is rather subtle and there is absolutely no insta-love. It is a much slower and realistic progression, and is something that will continue to evolve and grow throughout the series instead of all in one book. Kai is a lovely character and superb love interest, but I also appreciate the fact that Cinder has her priorities straight and remains independent.

Though we only get a relatively brief glimpse of her as a character, Queen Levana is already proving to be an utterly detestable villain. We also get to see that Levana is going to be quite a multi-dimensional villain as well, and not just someone who is in the plot simply to be antagonistic and create drama or tension. I will be interested to learn more of her backstory in future novels.

Cinder is a novel that has been on my radar for quite a while, and I am extremely glad that I finally picked it up. This is by far one of the most unique and intriguing stories that I have read in recent years, and I was immediately hooked once I began it. I very highly recommend it to everyone, particularly if you are like me and enjoy both sci-fi and retellings, because this is a spectacular mash-up of both. Not only have I already completely fallen in love with this series, but I have also become a huge fan of Marissa Meyer’s writing. I truly look forward to reading the rest of this series as well as any of her future works.

5.0 TARDISes

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