Scarlet: This sure isn’t your typical Little Red Riding Hood retelling (My thoughts on book #2 in The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer)
Now that I’ve finished reading and reviewing Emma Chase’s Legal Briefs series (Overruled, Sustained, Appealed), I’ve decided to read and review the rest of the Lunar Chronicles basically back-to-back-to-back. Admittedly, I originally thought about doing that when I read and reviewed Cinder back in January, but I ultimately decided to hold off on doing that since I wanted to do the same thing with the Legal Briefs series; that being said, here are my thoughts on Scarlet.
Right off the bat, I have to admit that while I loved Scarlet, this book ended up being very different from the way I was expecting it to be. I was really expecting the titular Scarlet Benoit to be featured in this book front and center with her being the protagonist of the book, and Wolf basically being the co-lead character of the book. However, this book ultimately ended up feeling like more of an ensemble piece than anything else. That definitely really took me by surprise as I was reading it.
While I’ve always thought that three of the most important tasks that the first book in a series is supposed to accomplish is to introduce the main characters, introduce the premise of the series, as well as establish the status quo for the series; I feel like this book did a much better job of establishing what I can expect from the Lunar Chronicles as a whole. Sure, Cinder did a great job of introducing the characters Cinder, Kai and Queen Levana, as well as various aspects of the series such as how the characters are dealing with the threat of the letumosis plague; but as I said, I was originally expecting each book in the series to focus primarily on a different character, with the characters from the previous books being featured in a rather reduced capacity. However, Scarlet really ended up coming across as an ensemble novel that focused on a variety of characters instead of focusing primarily on Scarlet, along with Wolf.
Watching the review for the final book in the Lunar Chronicles series, Winter, and the series as a whole, that I’ve included below in case anybody wants to watch it, is one of things that made me think that Cinder and Kai would featured throughout the rest of the series, but in a rather reduced capacity. However, Cinder ended up being a pretty big part of Scarlet, whereas Kai was featured in the book pretty much to the extent that I was originally expecting both him and Cinder to be featured in the other books. For the record, Heather (The woman in the video) is one of my top favorite booktubers (People who post book reviews and various other kinds of discussion videos about books and reading on YouTube). That being said, I probably wouldn’t have been all that surprised or disappointed if Meyer had featured both Cinder and Kai in this book about the same amount as Emma Chase featured Stanton and Sofia in the Legal Briefs series after Overruled, or as much as she featured Jake, who’s the protagonist of Sustained, in Appealed.
The reason I’m mentioning all of this is because aside from the fact that I felt like Cinder kind of hogged the spotlight with how much she was featured in Scarlet, I honestly can’t think of very many things that I didn’t like about this book. I’ll admit that it kind of makes sense that Marissa Meyer would focus a lot on Cinder in this book, since I do think it was very important for her to follow up on the whole revelation that Cinder is actually the long lost Lunar Princess Selene, who’s the missing heir to the throne and Queen Levana’s niece. Plus, it was definitely somewhat necessary for Meyer to also devote some of the book to Kai dealing with finding out that Cinder is a cyborg, as well as the prospect of entering into a marriage alliance with Queen Levana. Fortunately, Kai’s subplot didn’t dominate the book all that much, and it did add to the fairytale feel of Scarlet, which I did love about this book. However, I still wish that Meyer had put the focus of the book on Scarlet and Wolf more than she actually did.
Only time will tell once I actually read Cress, Fairest: The Lunar Chronicles: Levana’s Story, and Winter, but after reading Scarlet, I’m guessing that those books will also end up coming across as stories about an ensemble of characters, instead of focusing primarily on the titular character of each book. The fact that this book ended up coming across as more of an ensemble story rather than Scarlet being the main focus of the book was definitely something that I found somewhat disappointing about this book. However, I’m thinking that I’m the one who needs to adjust their expectations for the series, instead of holding the fact that this book ended up not being quite what I had been expecting completely against Marissa Meyer and the book itself.
As for how I felt about the character Scarlet, I really like her for the most part. However, it definitely bugged me a lot that she was so quick to accuse Wolf of being guilty of kidnapping her Grandma, when the evidence suggesting that Wolf was the person who had taken her was rather flimsy in my mind. It especially annoyed me that it never seemed to occur to Scarlet that more than one person could have the tattoo that she believed her grandma’s kidnapper had. Fortunately, the whole thing with Scarlet believing that Wolf had been the one who kidnapped her grandma didn’t drag on for too long. The whole conflict that Scarlet had with her dad suddenly showing up at her grandma’s house was pretty interesting. I especially like that aspect of the book since it helped Scarlet to realize that Wolf wasn’t exactly the bad guy she had started to think he was, even if he did have a somewhat shady past with him being a street fighter.
One thing that I have to give Marissa Meyer a lot of credit for when it comes to Scarlet (The book), is the fact that the story itself never really dragged, and I never got bored at any point as I was reading. The story itself had great pacing; it didn’t move too slowly, it didn’t move too fast, it moved at just the right pace to keep me engaged and invested in the story. The fact that the overall pacing of the story was handled very well definitely made it easier for me to deal with the fact that Scarlet started out liking Wolf and thinking that he seemed nice, only to quickly become convinced that he was behind the disappearance of her grandma, and then back to believing that he was actually a good guy. There was also plenty of action and genuinely interesting things that happened throughout the book.
When it comes to how I felt about Wolf as a character, I absolutely love him. I especially loved Wolf at the beginning of the book when he acted quite sheepish and a bit awkward around Scarlet. Personally, I found that side of him rather endearing, and I really wish that we had gotten to see a little more of that particular side of Wolf. Wolf’s backstory as a street fighter whose name used to be Ze’ev Kesley was all very interesting, in my opinion.
While it did bother me that Cinder really seemed to hog the spotlight at times, her interactions with Carswell Thorne, otherwise known as Thorne, were ultimately one of the biggest highlights of the book for me. Their interactions with each other honestly kind of had me wishing that Cinder and Thorne would end up together. However, I already know that’s definitely not going to happen, and I should probably keep an open mind about Thorne ending up with Cress until I’ve at least read the next book in the series, which is Cress.
Despite my issues with Marissa Meyer not putting the spotlight on Scarlet as much as I thought she should have in this book, I thought that this book served as an awesome introduction to the character Thorne. Admittedly, I wasn’t all that crazy about Thorne in his initial scenes. Originally, I thought he came across as being a bit sleazy and not the kind of guy that I would typically root for when it comes to fairytale romances, but he quickly grew on me. Thorne really did “steal the show” at times throughout the book, and in some ways, that doesn’t entirely bother me.
In case you haven’t already watched the video review for Winter and the Lunar Chronicles series as a whole that I’ve included above, or you’re not planning to watch it, I feel like I should mention that one of things that Heather talks about in her review is how Thorne reminded her a lot of Han Solo from Star Wars. Personally, I couldn’t agree more with that comparison in the sense that both Thorne and Han are basically rebellious outlaws to a certain degree. However, I’d say that Thorne is much more playful and fun loving than I think Han Solo ever was. The parts of the book featuring Thorne definitely got me extremely excited to read Cress.
One thing that kind of surprised me about Scarlet (The book), especially compared to Cinder, is that I thought that it was kind of dark and pushing the envelope a little bit at times for a book that’s part of the YA genre. First off, people were suggesting to Scarlet that her grandma might have killed herself when the police couldn’t find her grandma, or any evidence that she had been kidnapped. Second, perhaps I misunderstood what Marissa Meyer was going for, but when Scarlet went to drop off some vegetables at a tavern that she does business with, several of the guys that were there made comments, pretty much saying that they wanted to get her into bed and sleep with her. The thing that made me think that Meyer was kind of pushing the envelope with that scene is the fact that the men seemed to be interested in sleeping with Scarlet, even if it meant raping her in order to do it; at least that’s what I thought they seemed to be implying.
The other moment in this book where I felt like Meyer was kind of pushing the envelope a little bit for a book that’s geared towards a YA audience is the part in the narrative where it’s talking about how Thorne likes to look at “naughty pictures” of women on the computer when he was first introduced. Personally, I thought that Meyer saying that Thorne likes to look at “naughty pictures” of women was her way of saying that he likes to look at porn without having the writing become too raunchy for a YA book. While I wasn’t offended by that part of the story, it was one of things that initially made me view Thorne as not being the kind of guy that I would typically root for in a fairytale type of story.
As I said in my review for Cinder, a big part of what drew me to the Lunar Chronicles is the fact that I’m a huge fan of fairytale retellings. Once Upon a Time and Grimm are two of my favorite TV shows, and both shows have done their own thing with the story of Little Red Riding Hood. Once Upon a Time’s take on Little Red Riding Hood was pretty clever with the twist being that Red was also the “Big Bad Wolf” of the story, and her red cloak had some kind of magical enchantment on it that kept Red from turning into her wolf form as long as she was wearing her cloak. When it comes to what Grimm did with the story of Little Red Riding Hood, the case that Nick and the other police officers were trying to solve in the first episode of the series was centered around the murder of a young woman dressed in a red jogging suit who was attacked and killed by a wolf-like creature referred to as a Blutbad while she was jogging through the woods.
Much like I thought Once Upon a Time’s take on the story of Little Red Riding Hood was pretty clever and cool, I love what Marissa Meyer did with the story in this book. Both Scarlet and Wolf have great backstories, and I love the relationship between the two of them, as well as how it develops throughout the course of the book. In the hands of a bad writer, I think there’s a good chance that the idea of a romance between the Little Red Riding Hood figure and the Big Bad Wolf figure in a retelling of the story of Little Red Riding Hood could have potentially come across as being disturbing and just wouldn’t have worked at all. Luckily, Meyer is proving herself to be a very talented writer with this series, and she really made the relationship between Scarlet and Wolf work for me.
One plot development that took place in this book that I really like is that Cinder’s android partner, Iko, who her stepmother, Adri, had dismantled after Cinder was arrested in Cinder was basically resurrected after Cinder installed Iko’s personality chip into Thorne’s ship. Personally, I found Iko’s interactions with the other characters in this book rather amusing. However, it sounds like Cinder plans on having Iko’s personality chip being installed into Thorne’s ship only being a temporary arrangement until she can get a new body for Iko.
All things considered, while Scarlet didn’t completely live up to my expectations, I still loved this book quite a bit. Plus, as I said, I’m willing to consider the idea that I’m the one who needs to adjust their expectations for the Lunar Chronicles series, rather than hold the fact that this book was very different from what I was originally expecting against Marissa Meyer. Scarlet and Wolff are both great characters, and I loved the relationship between them. This book also served as an excellent introduction to the character Thorne. Thorne was definitely a major highlight of the book for me personally, and the parts of the book featuring him really got me excited to read Cress. The story itself had great pacing, and it never dragged, which is always a good thing.
That being said, my final score for Scarlet is 9 out of 10.
Posted on March 13, 2016, in Book Reviews, Uncategorized and tagged book review, Grimm, Legal Briefs, Lunar Chronicles, Marissa Meyer, Monrosalee, Once Upon a Time, Scarlet, Star Wars, The Legal Briefs series, The Lunar Chronicles. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.