Scarlet (2013) is the second novel in Marissa Meyer’s LUNAR CHRONICLES. You’ll want to read Cinder first. There will be some spoilers for that novel in this review.
In Cinder we met the titular cyborg, an orphan who lives with her hateful stepmother and two stepsisters in New Beijing. Cinder is the best mechanic in town, which is how she meets the young and handsome Prince Kai. He needs his personal robot fixed because, unbeknownst to Cinder, it may contain information about the whereabouts of Princess Selene, the rightful ruler of Luna, the human colony on the moon. Nobody knows if Princess Selene is alive but, if she is, Kai may be able to avoid a marriage alliance with Levana, the evil queen of Luna.
When Kai meets Cinder, a smart confident young woman who may be the only one in the country who isn’t chasing him, he’s fascinated, but Cinder deflects his advances because she doesn’t want him to know she’s a cyborg. Cinder gets caught up in the royal drama anyway and eventually ends up in prison after being revealed as both a cyborg and Lunar. She has also discovered that she is (surprise) the lost Princess Selene, but Kai (now emperor) and Levana, who is now planning their wedding, don’t know this.
Scarlet introduces a new character, a young woman named Scarlet Benoit who lives with her grandmother on a farm in France. Her grandmother has recently disappeared, and Scarlet is worried. While delivering groceries to a local tavern, she meets a newcomer who calls himself Wolf. He’s rough and powerful, and has ominous-looking tattoos, but in some ways he’s charmingly naïve. When Scarlet begins to suspect that her grandmother has been kidnapped and is being tortured by men who think she has some secret information, she sets out, with Wolf, to find her.
Meanwhile, Cinder is trying to escape from prison so she can go to France to find Michelle Benoit, a woman who, Cinder’s been told, knows her personal history. To escape, Cinder recruits a fellow prisoner named Carswell Thorne, a young man who fancies himself a captain and who has hidden a stolen spaceship. Cinder’s Lunar powers, which allow her to control other people, are developing quickly and she worries that she will begin using them unethically.
Eventually the Cinder and Scarlet storylines converge satisfactorily since, by this point, we are invested in both women’s stories and it’s a delight to see them finally meet.
Scarlet is full of adventure, romance, betrayal, battle, and humor. Some mysteries resolve, but others emerge as the story gets deeper and wider. Queen Levana is an existential threat to humanity and it’s up to Cinder, Scarlet, and their friends to stop her.
My daughter and I thoroughly enjoyed Scarlet. It was fun to recognize the clever allusions to the Red Riding Hood fairytale. We’re listening to the audio editions produced by Macmillan Audio and read by Rebecca Soler. The next book is Cress and we’re eager to start it.
I’ve seen these books around and never been interested. Your review piques my interest! I’ll have to seek them out.