Saturday 15 February 2014

#CBR6 Book 12: "Scarlet" by Marissa Meyer

Page count: 452 pages
Rating: 4 stars

This is the second book in the Lunar Chronicles, and won't really work so well if you haven't read the first one. Start with Cinder, then come back and read this review when you've caught up. Really, you don't want to be reading this review - it's going to contain spoilers about the first book. Continue reading if you don't mind, but don't say I didn't warn you.

Scarlet Benoit needs to find her grandmother, who disappeared without a trace a few weeks ago. Her ID chip was left behind, and Scarlet is convinced she's been kidnapped. The local police, however, don't suspect foul play and have rejected the case. Scarlet's determined to locate her grandmother on her own, but has few leads or clues. How is the mysterious prize fighter, calling himself Wolf, connected? He arrived in the area around the same time Scarlet's grandmother disappeared, and seems very interested in Scarlet.

How is Scarlet's grandmother connected with dangerous Lunar fugitive and cyborg Linh Cinder? The heroine of Meyer's previous book has escaped from prison along with self-styled Captain Carswell Thorne thanks to the advanced cyborg enhancements Doctor Erland gave her at the end of the last book. On the run in Thorne's stolen spacecraft, the two manage to constantly stay one step ahead of the Lunar and Earthen authorities, and discover that a former officer named Michelle Benoit may have further clues about Cinder's past.

Newly appointed Emperor Kai is still reeling from the discovery that the charming mechanic he impulsively invited to the ball is not only a cyborg, but actually a dangerous Lunar. Was his attraction to her nothing but trickery brought on by her Lunar powers? He is desperately trying to fend off the powerful and terrifying Lunar Queen, Levana, who demands that the girl be caught within three days, or there will be disastrous consequences for Earth.

In Cinder, Meyer introduced us to the Cyborg mechanic who bore a clear resemblance to the Cinderella of Grimms' fairy tales. While I liked the book, a lot of it was establishing the world and world building, and I found it a bit slow in places. In the sequel, the fantastic sci-fi world is already in place, and quite a few of the main conflicts and players have been set in motion. Or so I thought. Because Meyer proceeds to introduce more characters, with complicated back stories and motivations. There's a lot more action in this book, it moves ahead at a faster pace all the way through.

The spirited Scarlet argues with townspeople and wears a red hoodie. She's a talented pilot and loves her grandmother, who more or less raised her, fiercely. She's willing to risk pretty much anything to find her, even allying herself with the rather shady Wolf, whose motivations are a lot more murky than she likes. She's sometimes frustratingly stubborn, refusing to believe that there could be something in her grandmother's past that led her to being abducted, even when further investigations keep revealing that her Michelle Benoit hadn't always been an eccentric farmer.

Also introduced in the book is adventurer, wanted thief and confidence trickster Carswell Thorne. When Cinder is escaping from prison, she accidentally drops into his cell, and upon discovering that he has a spaceship, she reluctantly agrees to take him with her. He uses his charm like a weapon, yet she is entirely immune. In reality a cadet in the American forces, he became wanted when he stole an advanced military aircraft to go adventuring. While he calls himself a captain, he's not actually a very good pilot, and it seems that he and Cinder evade the authorities through luck more than skill.

Levana keeps being scary and villainous, and more of her plans to wage war on Earth is revealed in this book. Kai and the rulers of the other Earthen nations do their best to defy her, but without much success. While Kai has to send out forces to try to capture Cinder, he's secretly happy as long as she stays missing, even though he knows her continued freedom could have dire consequences for the people of Earth. It's a dreadful situation for a young, inexperienced ruler to be in, and when Levana's plots against Earth start coming out into the open, he does the only thing he can to try to avoid more death and bloodshed.

As in the first book, there is a romantic subplot in the book, although it's by no means the most prominent. Scarlet seems to go from distrusting and worrying about Wolf to being attracted to him very quickly, but I suppose added danger can throw people together, and he does help her look for her grandmother, even against his better judgement. I suspect Captain Thorne may become a romantic interest for the heroine in the third book, which is coming out in a day or two. I'm very much looking forward to seeing where the story goes next.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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