Keertana's Reviews > Scarlet

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
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Feb 05, 2013

really liked it
bookshelves: kick-ass-heroines, swoooon, 2013-favorites, wishlist
Read on February 08, 2013

Rating: 3.75 Stars

Scarlet is easily one of the most anticipated novels of 2013, but it never made its way even to my to-read shelf. In fact, while the rest of the blogosphere was going crazy over the release of Meyer's sophomore novel, I was marveling at the fact that I had one less book to read this month than everyone else. Well, needless to say, Scarlet won me over, just as Cinder won over hundreds of readers when it was first released last year. While Cinder proved to be a frustrating read for me, easily irritating me with its lack of world-building, empty-headed protagonist, and obvious plot twists, Scarlet kept me on the edge of my seat, rooting for its kick-ass heroine and swooning every couple of pages, despite the subtle romance. All in all, I think I can say, quite confidently, that I have joined the throng of Marissa Meyer fans. For the few of you out there who, like me, were unimpressed by Cinder, I challenge you to give Scarlet a try. It will, undoubtedly, make you eat your former words about this series. Many times over.

Scarlet is a much stronger novel than Cinder ever was primarily because of its protagonist. While I enjoyed Cinder's narration, her gentle disposition and intelligent nature, her cluelessness could often be highly frustrating. Scarlet, however, is cunning, bad-ass, and not the type of chick you want to mess with. Not only does she carry a gun in her back pocket, but she knows how to stand up for herself and her loyalty to her grandmother comes before all else. Our story opens up with Scarlet hunting for her missing grandmother who left and never re-appeared nearly three weeks ago. With the police giving up and claiming her grandmother simply ran away, Scarlet is alone in her quest - or so she thinks. Unexpectedly, Scarlet finds help in the form of Wolf, a deadly street-fighter who she is forced to put her trust in if she ever wants to see her grandmother again. In the midst of this hunt, though, Cinder is breaking out of jail, determined to escape and find the freedom she so desperately seeks. When Cinder leaves her prison cell with another criminal mastermind, Captain Thorne, however, Queen Levana and Emperor Kai are now both after her, but all Cinder is after are answers - answers that no one seems to have but Scarlet's grandmother who is missing.

Although Meyer's sophomore novel is titled Scarlet, the book is quite neatly split in half between Scarlet's tale and that of Cinder's. Every few chapters, the PoV shifts, introducing us to Scarlet and her quest, all while back-pedaling to let us know how Cinder is faring or giving us a quick glimpse into the head of Emperor Kai. Cinder and Kai are two characters that are impossible to dislike - they are both kind, selfless, and constantly thinking of others. In so many ways, they are similar and perfect for one another, but Meyer gives them both greater depth in this novel. Kai, now no longer a prince, has the fate of an entire nation resting upon his shoulders. As such, he must deal with consequences and decisions he is in no way prepared for, all while battling with his feelings for Cinder, the mechanic he grew to admire, but who ultimately betrayed him. Kai, contrary to what Cinder originally thinks, isn't disgusted with her for being a cyborg. If anything, he is filled with a newfound curiosity to get to know her all over again, yet, he is deeply mistrustful of her, questioning how much of what he knew was the truth and how much were lies. Although we were only given a few short chapters of his perspective, it was enough to make this story all the more well-rounded and intriguing.

One of the best qualities of this novel is its ability to shift from narrators to scenes to events to locations seamlessly. Meyer, it seems, really can write. Yet, despite her obvious talent, it seems as if this series is doomed to struggle onwards without world-building. We still have no idea how the Lunars came to exist on the moon, how their powers even began to manifest, or even how we went from the world we live in today to the world of Cinder and Scarlet. Surprisingly, though, this didn't detract from the plot. While it seemed to be a heavy hindrance in Meyer's debut, it was easily forgotten amongst the fast-paced plot of Scarlet. Still, I eagerly look forward to the day when we finally get some answers to our questions. With that minor blemish aside, the only other faults I found with this novel lay in Cinder herself. It cannot be denied that Cinder's story was the more boring of the two prevalent tales in this novel. It seemed to have been dragged during many instances, but, more than that, Cinder's growth was rather stunted.

In Scarlet, Cinder must finally learn to use her powers as a Lunar and attempt to use them in such a way that she never violates strict moral codes that Queen Levana constantly breaks. It is an important struggle and while Cinder's inner battle was handled deftly, the physical actions and circumstances she was thrown in did little to help her achieve the growth she reaches by the end of the book. It is the obvious end mark for this novel, both in terms of plot and character development, but it felt like a little too big of a jump. I, for one, never felt like I grasped Cinder's character as well as I would have wanted to in this installment. Captain Thorne, on the other hand, was a pleasant addition of comedic relief, although I sincerely hope he plays a larger part in the series to come. In my eyes, he felt a little unnecessary at times.

Regardless of the flaws this novel had, though, it was all made up for with Scarlet and Wolf. I've already mentioned my admiration for Scarlet, but Wolf is another character all together. In some ways, it is difficult to know what to make of him at first. While he seems to be nothing more than a ruthless, cold, and calculating street fighter, he is, in reality, shy, kind, and gentle. Together, Scarlet and Wolf are eerily similar, but also manage to balance each other out perfectly. I found their flirtatious dialogue refreshing and their romantic story arc, although rather rapid, fit the plot perfectly. Instead of falling back on the typical tropes of insta-love, Meyer manages to build two mature characters who are drawn to each other due to lust and sexual tension and, somehow, she manages to make it work since these two also have a bond of friendship and trust that exists between them. Furthermore, the plot twists surrounding these two were ones I never saw coming. I suspect that if you've read the two novellas, or rather the one directly preceding this novel, then the curveballs will be rather predictable, but as someone who has been studiously avoiding the writing of Marissa Meyer for the past year, I was pleasantly shocked, surprised, and left with my heart twisting rather painfully at times.

I love being emotionally invested in a novel and with the tale of Scarlet and Wolf, this is precisely what Meyer did. Moreover, the higher stakes of the situation in this book also perfectly played into my growing attachment to this series. While it does have its flaws - egregious ones - and the story arc of Cinder was slightly compromised in favor of Scarlet's, I can't complain. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and am already itching for more of Scarlet and Wolf. Granted, the majority of my newfound involvement with this series stems from these characters, but with such a clear-cut resolution in sight, I am curious to embark on the journey these characters will take to get there. I can only hope, though, that in the future, the editing for these books will be a little more detailed and the story plots pulled in a little tighter. With just a little tweaking, this series could easily skyrocket to becoming one of my favorites. Especially with characters like Scarlet and Wolf.

You can read this review and more on my blog, Ivy Book Bindings.
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Reading Progress

02/08/2013
12.0% "Dear Marissa Meyer and Editors,

You see that part right there? It would have been the perfect spot to add in some world-building. You know, like how the Lunars came to exist or why they are born with powers when no one else is? Yup, Cinder had a computer, a computer has answers, I want answers. Just keep it in mind next time, okay? Pretty please? I am dying for some answers! >.<"
02/08/2013
28.0% ""You'd better bring my grandmother back, and I swear on the house I was born in if you hurt one hair, one wrinkle, one freckle on her body I am going to hunt every last one of you down and snap your necks like the chickens you are, do you understand me? BRING HER BACK!"

Scarlet, you are amazing. That is all."
02/08/2013
30.0% "Paris. The word filled her up. A clue. A promise.

Um...your father told you he was in a bar in Paris only like ten chapters ago." 2 comments
02/08/2013
62.0% "Wait...what just happened? I'm so confused!" 13 comments
02/08/2013
67.0% "Dang...I think I just fell in love with this book." 4 comments

Comments (showing 1-20 of 20) (20 new)

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message 1: by Savindi (new)

Savindi Is it better than Cinder? I hope it is!


Keertana I'm hoping it is too. So far, I'm loving Scarlet and Wolf more than Cinder and Kai, although I did like them too, just in a different way. Thankfully, there is nothing glaringly obvious about the plot yet, but I'm not even a quarter through the novel, so we'll see. No more new world-building, unfortunately, but either than that, the plot, writing, and characters are good. I'm holding out this will finally make me fall in love with this series! *fingers crossed*


message 3: by Savindi (new)

Savindi The lack of world-building is such a shame though. I hope the characters make up for it. I'm not sure if I'll pick this one up, but I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts about it :).


message 4: by Keertana (last edited Feb 08, 2013 03:16PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Keertana Thanks! I wasn't planning to read it, but throw in a street fighter who's a werewolf and I can't resist. I am such a sucker for werewolves! ;)


message 5: by Savindi (new)

Savindi Lol I approve. Do you watch the show Suits? If you don't there's this awesome character called Donna and you remind me so much of her with your comments and banter :).


Keertana Woah, seriously? Nope, I don't watch Suits although I'll probably check out an episode with her in it just to compare! ;) I've never been compared to a character before, though...I'm flattered! :D


Lauren You are a machine! I haven't made any more progress on this book, and you've read it AND written a review. I must learn your secret. It takes me forever to write reviews. Anyway, I haven't read your review yet, because I'm mid book. But will come back.


Keertana Lauren, I wish I was a machine! I have so many reviews I still need to write that I've been procrastinating on. It takes me a long time to write my reviews as well, but my thoughts about this one were so clear-cut, so it was easier to churn out. I can't wait to see what you think and compare thoughts, though!(:


Anna It's amazing that this series doesn't really continue on with the previous characters but has a new set.


Keertana It has a new set of characters, but the old characters are still there too. As I said, the story is split neatly between the arcs of the old characters and the new ones until they collide.


message 11: by Savindi (new)

Savindi I have to agree with your friends you're a reviewing Beast lol. Honestly I swear you can probably cruise through attending an ivy league school while being involved in so many other extra-curriculars and blogging! Lol I love Donna, she's so sassy and funny. This one of my favourite clips with her http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rlwqqi....


Keertana HA! I wish, Savindi. With the way my year is playing out, I'll be lucky to scrape all As with one B instead of four. Ivy Leagues are near impossible to get into, so I'm just hoping for a decent college, honestly, and one that my parents won't be too close to. They like to hover. -.-

Donna is great! Although I honestly wouldn't have the confidence to pull off a line like that if I wanted to. I'd just make a fool of myself and say something silly and walk off, for sure.


message 13: by Savindi (last edited Feb 09, 2013 12:41PM) (new)

Savindi Ahahaha I'm sure you'll be fine :) I've got complete faith in you. Don't stress yourself out too much. Haha you know I started out wanting to be away from home too and I did move away from college, but you'll start to miss home cooked after a while lol. By my second semester in school, my parents were bringing food for me ;). Moving away was definitely a good decision on my part though and I'm sure you'll make the right decision about which college you want to go too!

Ahha you can pull off a Donna-esque comment ;)


Keertana I'm going to miss the food, that my parents already know, but probably not them a whole lot. At least, not at first! ;) It's exciting to visit colleges and figure out where you want to go and most of them are all so nice, so I don't think there's any specific college that I definitely don't want to go to, which is good.

Nah, I don't think so. I'm so much more myself on the internet, but in person I can be REALLY shy until you really get to know me. Of course, by then you start to wish I was as quiet as you thought I was when you first meet me, but I don't exude the confidence Donna has, haha.


message 15: by Savindi (new)

Savindi Visiting Colleges is always a good thing because then you get a feel for the atmosphere. It's probably one of the best decisions I made when I chose my university. So you have a year to apply right?

Ahaha don't worry I'm much more myself when I'm at home around my family and then when I'm out I kind of keep my mouth shut unless it's people I know very well. If you visit Canada sometime, make sure to stop by in Toronto ;).


Keertana Yup. I only send my applications out by October/November/December, so I have time.

Yes, definitely! We have family in Toronto actually, an elderly couple who is related to my grandmother and we used to visit them often when we lived in Michigan. I live in the Tri-State Region now, but if I come by that area, I'll be sure to let you know!(:


message 17: by Savindi (new)

Savindi I'm sorry I totally forgot to reply to your comment, but yes if you're in Toronto definitely let me know. We can go and look at bookshops and record stores. So I wanted to ask you since you already know my opinion/view of Cinder do you recommend that I pick up Scarlett?


Keertana YES! I definitely do. I had my reservations with Scarlet, mostly in terms of the world-building which was still absent and the growth of Cinder which I felt needed to occur at a more realistic and gradual pace, but either than that, I just LOVED this book. Scarlet is a fantastic new protagonist and her entire story arc with Wolf is mind-blowing and grabs you in at once. Cinder's story arc, just as prevalent, is a little slower, but very funny with the introduction of a new character. We also see Kai's PoV which is very well written. I think if you go into this not expecting a lot from Cinder or the world-building, you will be very pleasantly surprised. For some reason, I can't stop thinking about this book or its characters. It made such a good overall impression on me that it's one of my favorites for the year and considering I was so staunchly opposed to reading this after Cinder, I definitely think you'll like it. If not love it, you'll enjoy this more than Cinder for certain. I can't wait to check out your thoughts, Savindi! :)


Charlie Ika-Heimonen I'm taking a Poll on my blog for who would cast as the best Scarlet here: http://charliebooks.blogspot.ca Because Movie rights for the Lunar Chronicles are in discussion! eg Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, Brittney Snow, or Amy Adams.


Jaime Leigh I am glad you kept going. The series only gets better, and Cress is an amazing book.


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