Book 2 in The Lunar Chronicles lives up to, and perhaps surpasses, the expectations set by the first book in the series, Cinder, and the prequel, Fairest. There is plenty of action, intense emotion, and answers to many questions from Cinder. Marissa Meyer is clever in her telling of the tale of Red Riding Hood and big bad wolf, keeping it as unpredictable as possible in the retelling of a classic fairytale.
The book begins with Cinder’s escape from prison in New Beijing, where we meet Captain Carswell Thorne. Their daring escape not only makes the pair the most wanted fugitives on Earth, but it disrupts the marriage alliance between Luna and Earth! Cinder soon realizes that “Captain” Thorne is a deserter of the American military and a mediocre at best pilot, but impressively resourceful. With Iko installed into Thorne’s beloved Rampion spaceship, Cinder learns that their ship needs repairs if they are going to successfully escape. Next stop, Paris for a parts store.
Meanwhile, in France, Scarlet Beniot is a farmer and gardener with her grandmother, Michelle, who goes missing. Scarlet’s grandmother means everything to her; she took in Scarlet as a troubled youth when her father neglected her. Scarlet will do anything or go anywhere to bring her grandmother home. During one of Scarlet’s routine farm-grown produce deliveries to a local restaurant, she encounters a street fighter named Wolf. As her scepticism for him fades and trust in him grows, he provides clues as to her grandmother’s fate, but leads Scarlet right into the middle of his wolf pack in Paris. Can he, or will he, protect her? While in captivity, Scarlet learns that each wolf pack is controlled by a servant of Queen Levana call a thaumaturge, some alphas, several betas, and the omegas that the pack pushes around. She also discovers that this is the pack that kidnapped her grandmother and murdered her father! Can she find and rescue her grandmother? Will Wolf remain by Scarlet’s side?
Suddenly, the wolf packs across Earth attack innocent civilians and create complete fear of the Queen’s mutated and brutal wolf army. The distracted wolves provide Scarlet with an opportunity to escape Paris. Will Wolf come with her? In the chaos of the attack on Paris and Scarlet’s escape attempt, Cinder and Thorne run into Scarlet and Wolf outside of the stolen Rampion ship. Together they fend of a pack of wolves, take out a thaumaturge, and escape Earth. With Scarlet piloting the Rampion, the crew comes together and starts to form a plan to over thrown the ruthless Queen Levana.
As I have said before, I read these books out-of-order. I started with Fairest, then Cress, Cinder, and now Scarlet. Scarlet is my favorite book out of the series so far; Fairest is a very close second. Scarlet is filled with action – from a prison escape, street fighting to brother wolves fighting, Scarlet fleeing for her life in the woods with Wolf, and a brutal wolf attack on Earthens at the order of the Queen. Scarlet and Wolf’s intense emotional connection only adds to the addictive storyline. There are also plenty of strong female characters in this series, revamping the notion of the helpless, damsel-in-distress, fairytale princess many of us grew up with. The characters introduced in this book are intriguing, likeable, and complex.
The combination of these things – action, emotion, strong characters – along with Meyer’s talented way of retelling classic fairy tales with a sci-fi twist, make this series a must read this summer!