It’s no secret I adored Cinder. Pure science fiction that uses my favorite fairy tale as a springboard for something fresh and different? Yes please! I could only hope that the sequel would be just as good.
And it (nearly) is. Whew.
Like Cinder, Scarlet uses a well-known fairy tale (this time, Little Red Riding Hood) as inspiration for a new story. It’s fun to pick out details from the original story, but for the most part, Meyer’s story is her own (this is a good thing).
Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing, and Scarlet believes she’s been kidnapped. She runs into a streetfighter named Wolf (of course she does), and discovers he knows quite a bit about what happened to her grandmother. They team up and decide to search for Scarlet’s grandmother together. Naturally, Wolf isn’t being quite truthful (he just happened to run into Scarlet?), and the two get into all sorts of fun scrapes while developing massive crushes on each other.
While much of the story focuses on Scarlet, Meyer doesn’t leave Cinder, who has managed to escape from prison with the help of a very amusing new character, behind. The chapters alternate (roughly) between the two characters until they eventually meet up near the end of the book.
Unsurprisingly, Scarlet’s story has quite a bit to do with Cinder’s, but the focus on Scarlet in this sequel keeps interest high. It adds another dimension to the story; it makes the story bigger and raises the stakes. Some mysteries are cleared up and others are introduced. We learn more about Queen Levana’s plan for Kai as well as Cinder’s childhood and how Scarlet and her grandmother are involved. I loved learning more about the world Meyer has created. The whole thing was just a joy to read.
While Scarlet is a resourceful young woman, just as Cinder is, the two characters are distinct, which I can’t stress strongly enough. Judging from other split-perspective books I’ve read, it’s hard to tell a story from two different points of view and keep the voices distinct, but Meyer does it well. Wolf is a good addition, too. Initially, he seems like he might be a typical “bad boy,” he’s got a well-developed backstory and is a great contrast to Kai, who is such a “good guy” it can be a bit wearisome.
For fans of Cinder, Scarlet won’t disappoint. It’s terrifically fun, accessible, well-written science fiction. I’m very much looking forward to the third and fourth books – I’m interested to see if Meyer is able to juggle three or four protagonists as handily as she did two.
Review copy received from the publisher via Kelly (best co-blogger ever). Scarlet will be published February 5.