Published: 17th January 2013 by Penguin
Format: Paperback, 452 pages
Genres: Fairytale Retelling, Science Fiction
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This is not the fairytale you remember. But it’s one you won’t forget.
Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. The police have closed her case. The only person Scarlet can turn to is Wolf, a street fighter she does not trust, but they are drawn to each other.
Meanwhile, in New Beijing, Cinder will become the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive – when she breaks out of prison to stay one step ahead of vicious Queen Levana.
As Scarlet and Wolf expose one mystery, they encounter Cinder and a new one unravels. Together they must challenge the evil queen, who will stop at nothing to make Prince Kai her husband, her king, her prisoner ...
I’ve waited so long for this book, but when I finally got it, I was afraid to start reading – what if it wasn’t as good as Cinder, what if I don’t like Scarlet, is there enough Kai in it? Scarlet, I am ecstatic to say, is just as awesome as Cinder, if not a shade better.
This book follows four chief characters – Scarlet Benoit, a young woman struggling to run a farm after the disappearance of her grandmother; Wolf, a street fighter who knows more about her grandmother’s disappearance than he first lets on; Cinder, who has teamed up with another convict and is leading the Commonwealth’s police forces on a merry chase; and Emperor Kai, as he struggles with complicated Earth – Luna politics, while trying to sort out his conflicted feelings for the cyborg girl he thought he knew.
Scarlet was a surprise to me because I didn’t think I’d like her as much as Cinder, but from the first page I knew Scarlet and I would get on famously. She’s focussed and pragmatic, and does what needs to be done without whingeing about it, but she’s in no way cold or calculating. I admire Scarlet because she’s self-assured and doesn’t apologise for her thoughts and opinions, and when someone has let her down, she doesn’t hesitate to let them know. I liked Wolf too, since he had such an interesting story line. His character is often conflicted and volatile, which makes him dangerous, but underneath all of that it was obvious that he was a really nice guy. I hope he is present in the rest of the series and that we are given the opportunity to understand him a bit more.
It was nice to catch up with Cinder and Kai again, but this is very much Scarlet and Wolf’s book, and we only really checked in with Cinder and Kai in the crucial moments of their individual story lines. Cinder is finding it hard to come to terms with all the secrets that were revealed at the end of Cinder, and in this book we get to see her explore her past. I am glad that Cinder isn’t crippled by her longing for Kai, like some other YA protagonists; she concentrates on her safety and her mission to uncover the past, and her feelings for Kai, although always present, do not affect her decision-making. On the other hand, I didn’t like Thorne, the convict Cinder escaped from prison with, and although he added much-needed humour to the story, I can’t him being useful in any way.
Like Cinder is a retelling of the Cinderella fairy tale with a modern, science fiction twist, so is Scarlet a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. It’s done very well, and like in Cinder, the fairy tale isn’t overtly present in the action but certain events, names and places will remind readers that we have all heard this story before. The story is paced beautifully and is difficult to stay away from, and full of action and plot twists to keep readers entertained.
Scarlet is an amazing book, and few retellings are achieved with such mastery, so Meyer should be commended for pulling off two of them! I am looking forward to Cress (2014) and Winter (2015), which will continue the story of Cinder and Scarlet as retellings of Rapunzel and Snow White respectively. Scarlet is a must read for fans of Cinder, and those who love YA with a lot of action, wonderful characters and a smattering of romance will enjoy this series immensely.