It's been nearly three years since I reviewed "Cinder". (Three years? Seriously? Can we take a moment now and go "WHAT?!" please?) Given how much I raved about it when I first got my mitts on the ARC, you'd think I'd be rushing off to read and review the sequels the minute they came out. However, my little blogger heart knew that if I liked the second book as much as the first (and spoiler, I did!) then I might as well hold out and wait for the next book to come out as well and don't suffer too much from the wait.
If only I had the perseverance to wait until November 2015, I wouldn't be living in such suspense right now because Marissa, seriously! I can't handle it!
But let's go slowly.
"Scarlet" and "Cress" are books 2 and 3 of the Lunar Chronicles, respectively. The series follows the adventures of Cinder, a cyborg mechanic, who discovers she's a lot more than she expects, and each book is a sci-fi retelling of a classical fairy tale. In this case, Little Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel.
"Scarlet" starts off with Cinder escaping the New Beijing prison with the help of another fugitive, Thorne (who is a pain in the arse but has a heart of gold.) She's still awfully confused about the events of the previous book and decides, rather than do what she's told, to learn a little bit more about herself, and decides the answers are in France, where the woman who housed her as a child lives.
However, the woman, Michelle Benoit, is missing, and her granddaughter Scarlet can't get the police to assist. Enter Wolf, a handsome street fighter who may or may not know more about it than he's letting on.
And if anyone has even heard of Little Red Riding Hood, you know Scarlet is headed for some big trouble.
One thing that careful readers might notice about the Lunar Chronicles is its influences. The original story, which Meyer uses as the bones for her retelling, is a cautionary tale about young women being careful, guarding your virginity and never, ever talk to strangers (because if something bad happens to you, then it's your fault, doncher know?) "Scarlet" subverts that. Both heroines (because Cinder's story is far from finished) not only talk to strangers, they actively seize the opportunities presented to them - in Cinder's case, she makes the decision to trust Thorne because he has a spaceship, and in Scarlet's, she partners up with Wolf to help her grandmother.
In both cases, one might question the validity of these decisions, however, it is pretty clear that both Scarlet and Cinder are aware of the superficial risks of partnering up with strange men... and they still take them, because it's a risk worth taking. On one level, it gets the story going. On a meta level, it reminds us of the fact that life is full of risks, and sometimes you have to take them.
That said, and you probably won't believe it when you hear it, but I'm seriously on the fence about the romance here.
On the one hand, I totally get that it isn't Wolf's fault that he's the way he is (literally, his biology was tinkered with against his will and he's often subject to the whims of whomever's controlling him.) On the other, maybe the whole animal bonding thing he has going on isn't the best thing.
I'm not gonna lie - I love the chemistry he and Scarlet have going on. There were a few scenes in the book where I was literally swooning. But I've grown really leery of relationships that develop over the course of a frantic day or two, because... well... everything is a lot more intense, and very few stories actually take us after that time to show us how the relationship has held up. (Luckily for me, though, there are still three more books after that, so yey!)
I should also point out - the story is aware of its own limitations. Scarlet, for all her hot-headedness, has a lot of horse sense when it comes to these things. She's not afraid to call other people out on their shit, and she's not one to be easily intimidated.
Also, unlike the original fairy tale, Scarlet isn't punished for stepping out of line and beating her own path. There's something to be said about that.
A note about the Bulgarian edition, (because it's the one I have) - the translation is serviceable, despite a few hiccups that were overlooked by the editor. And I like how Egmont went with the Spanish covers - despite the fact that the original is quite good, there is just something about these ones that tickles my fancy. (Also, the artist who makes these dolls has some really fabulous work going for her.)
All in all, it's a very good sequel.
Next time: Cress!
Note: Images via BookLikes and Goodreads.