Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles #2)
Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second installment of the Lunar Chronicles. She's trying to break out of prison--even though if she succeeds, she'll be the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive. Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit's grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn't know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother's whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.
The second book of the Lunar Chronicles does not disappoint. Meyer has perfected the art of blending fairy tale and science fiction, although Scarlet didn't stick to the story of Red Riding Hood as closely as Cinder followed Cinderella. The elements of the fable were still plain to see, and worked into the plot seamlessly. The solid world-building from Cinder is present in Scarlet, too, but this time in France, not New Beijing.
As Cinder's story unfolds and tangles with the stories of others, it only becomes more captivating. I wish that Cinder and Scarlet had met a little sooner in the story, but since this book is part of a series it wasn't paramount. Everything else is timed, with plenty of action sequences balanced out by suspenseful or character-building scenes. And, speaking of characters, they were flipping amazing. I fell in love with Cinder in book one, but Scarlet's fierceness and loyalty made me love her, too. Wolf and Thorne, although less major characters, were just as developed. Also, Levana continues to be terrifying.
I connected with Meyer's awesomely realistic characters right away, which made the emotional scenes that much more powerful. There were plenty of those, but Meyer never let the story get soppy, always kicking Cinder, Scarlet, & Co. into action before they could become a soap opera. The only time she doesn't really manage to do that is with the romance between Wolf and Scarlet. It is so blatantly obvious that they're going to get together, just from the blurb (She is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her), and the whole romance is pretty cheesy. It was still a better than a lot of YA romances, but Scarlet and Wolf's relationship doesn't live up to the skill Meyer showed with Cinder and Kai. I did very much like that they were two very different love stories, however.
Meyer brought the stupendous writing, characterization, and world-building from the first book and added even more oomph for Scarlet. Based on the amount of effort and talent Meyer put into the Lunar Chronicles, it's not too far off to say this series is the Harry Potter of the sci-fi genre. I cannot wait to see where she takes this series next.
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