Author: Marissa Meyer
Published by: Square Fish, imprint of Macmillan
Date Published: 2013
In the second book of The Lunar Chronicles series, we meet Scarlet Benoit, a fiery, red-haired farm-grow girl, who’s opinionated and stubborn. Scarlet’s grandmother has been missing for two weeks when Scarlet meets Wolf, the strangely strong and violent, yet reserved and shy, street fighter with a mysterious tattoo. Their introduction leads Scarlet on the search for her grandmother during which she discovers dangerous secrets her grandmother has kept hidden for years. Scarlet finds herself caught up in the violent scheme of the Lunar Queen, Levana – a hidden hoard of hybrid Lunar males and wolves created to search for the lost Princess Selene and kill any who get in their way. Simultaneously, the story follows Cinder in her escape from the Commonwealth prison, her introduction to Captain Thorne, and her desperate search for Scarlet’s grandmother.
What an exciting continuation from the first novel in this series. Scarlet neatly ties in the plots introduced in book one, throughout book two. The story focuses on two new characters whose lives are integrally tied in with Cinder’s story. The world Meyer has created, now expands while effectively maintaining detail and believability as a detailed sci-fi universe. Meyer takes the reader out of the Commonwealth (the main setting for book one), into France, and right out of Earth altogether. We get a sense of how their world works and how countries and nations are perceived as the characters view world news on their netscreens. Despite providing us a window into the entire world, the story remains clear and focused on the main plot.
Scarlet, as stated above, is a stubborn and hot-headed character. Her passion and love for her grand-mere is extremely evident, and she will do anything for her beloved familiar to the point where she appears as reckless. Scarlet’s fierce determination to save her grandmother is admirable, but her disregard for her own life is concerning. I would have liked her to think things through a little more before rushing off without a second thought. I do understand that she’s consumed by her fear and not thinking clearly, but a little more rationality on her part would have made her a more likely character.
I liked that Scarlet doubts Wolf from the beginning, but isn’t completely immune to the attraction that is obvious between them. I thought that her struggle to like this man who has this barely-restrained animalistic side to him differentiates Scarlet than other traditional YA protagonists. She is one of a rare few who hesitates before diving into a relationship. I feel that as a young woman (about 18) she would be drawn to this strong, attractive figure who takes the role of a dominant male figure that was previously lacking in her life, but his association to the gang that’s captured her grandmother keeps Scarlet wary, and rightly so. Their relationship is somewhat unconventional. I couldn’t understand her attraction to Wolf at the start. Her fear of him seems to be overtaken by her attraction, which, in the beginning, made me very skeptical of the believability of their relationship. But Wolf won me over in the end. And he had me swooning. “I think I realized that I would rather die because I betrayed them, than live because I betrayed you” (444). The fact that they refer to Scarlet as his “alpha female” had that cheese factor, but it was cute, if a little sickly sweet.
Wolf is a character that I found gained a lot of sympathy from me. There’s a lot of mystery that surrounds him and his story throughout the novel. This intrigue has the reader turning pages faster to see what he’s going to do next. Wolf reaches all ranges in this novel, from the victim to the protector, from the hero to the villain. He’s a bit difficult as a character to pin down in this novel as the story progresses. I would have liked to see more information and backstory provided for Wolf and his brother Ran. We don’t learn much about them and where they come from in this book, but perhaps Cress will give us more insight.
One thing that had me stumbling throughout the novel was the use of the word “thaumaturge.” I found that in the context of the novel (and the reading level at which the book is written) this word really stood out. I’m a university graduate about to complete post-graduate studies and I had to look this word up. 16-year-old me would have been clueless. I only point this out because thaumaturge is used constantly in this book and it caused a huge roadblock for me while I was reading. It made my experience a somewhat halting one.
My only other criticism would be surrounding Captain Thorne. He didn’t have much of a strong role in this novel. His presence for me was mere comic relief. Meyer seems to be setting him up for more in coming books, but after reading Scarlet, I didn’t think he was especially necessary as a character.
Overall, 5 stars for this one. For Meyer’s second novel, this one really held its own and is a strong continuation to the series. There’s lots of positive feedback surrounding Cress so I will be making my way onto the third instalment in The Lunar Chronicles ASAP. And if you haven’t read this series, I strongly suggest you do so soon!