Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling 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. 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.
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer My rating: 4/5 Stars
Series: The Lunar Chronicles, #2 Format: Hardcover, 454 pg
Status: Read from March 26 to March 27, 2017
In this futuristic world, there are humans, cyborgs, androids and aliens. Cyborgs are considered second-class citizens although they are merely humans with advanced prosthetics. Androids are helpful robots, some with amazing personalities and some that are escort droids so advanced that they can pass as human. The aliens are the Lunars and they dwell within a colony on the moon. The humans are threatened by an unstoppable plague brought upon them by the Lunars as well as domination by the tyrannical Lunar Queen Levana.
At the end of the first book, the lowly cyborg mechanic Cinder discovered that she was the long-lost Lunar princess. She isn’t simply a cyborg; she is now apparently a royal cyborg. She is the only one with the power to stop Queen Levana because she is the rightful heir with more royal blood and more potential Lunar magic. But her discovery came almost too late; she had already been thrown into jail after appearing at the annual ball with Prince Kai. It was Queen Levana who recognized her as Lunar and in one dramatic moment, Prince Kai also learned that she was cyborg after her mechanical foot fell off when she was trying to escape — it was the one detail she was trying to hide. She never tried to hide the fact that she was Lunar, because she never knew. Cinder was placed under arrest to await deportation to Luna and eventual execution.
Although Prince Kai has no idea that Cinder is the long-lost Princess Selene, Queen Levana knew immediately. Cinder is her biggest threat.
Scarlet begins in Rieux, France where a young farm girl is trying to keep the family farm together after her grandmother’s mysterious disappearance. Scarlet is a red-headed ball of fire who dons a red hoodie wherever she goes. When her estranged father suddenly appears, tearing apart the farmhouse looking for a hidden clue, he tells Scarlet that men have her grandmother, horrible men. They tortured him but let him go to find something her grandmother has hidden. Scarlet can’t fathom why anyone would want to hurt her grandmother, or what she could be hiding. The only clue that her father can provide about the men is a strange tattoo on each of the men that bore the initials LSOP and a series of numbers.
That was her clue. Scarlet had recently met a young street fighter, a newcomer in Rieux, with the same tattoo. After a brief confrontation, the young man named simply Wolf agrees to help her find the men. His tattoo was from a past connection with the same group, a symbol of a secret organization: Loyal Order of the Pack. He was no longer a member and had escaped to Rieux.
Wolf believes that they are holding Scarlet’s grandmother in Paris and together they venture on a journey to save her grandmother. But Wolf seems to be keeping his own secrets. He has fangs, bears his teeth and fights ferociously — even bites, is able to tell if predators are lurking nearby with a sniff of the wind, and regularly displays superhuman feats of athletic ability. That — and he considers himself an alpha. Scarlet’s companion grows stranger by the minute.
Meanwhile, Cinder is working on a prison break. Dr. Erland, the plague doctor who first realized that she was the long-lost princess and informed her of such, revealed that he was also a Lunar in hiding. There were many Lunars who have escaped Queen Levana’s cruel reign to live secretly, peacefully on earth. There were many who were hoping and waiting for the return of Princess Selene. Using his powers of mind manipulation, he was able to pass Cinder contraband prosthetics with hidden devices while she was in jail. She manages to escape and take along another prisoner for the ride.
Carswell Thorne is a U.S. Republic fugitive who abandoned his post, stole a U.S. spaceship, and was eventually arrested in New Beijing. He’s a Han Solo-esque charismatic character who flirts with every woman he comes in contact with and uses his boyish charm to get out of bad situations. His stolen (and cherished) spaceship was still hidden and provided the final part of their great escape from the Eastern Commonwealth.
Now that Cinder knows that she is the rightful heir, she wants to find out how she managed to survive the assassination attempt on her life when she was a child, and how she managed to be smuggled to earth. She has no memories before the age of eleven. From secrets unearthed in the first book when Cinder tried to fix Prince Kai’s android (an android who released a hidden message about a long-lost princess – hello R2-D2), she learned that a woman in Rieux, France may be the key. This is when Cinder’s story begins to merge with Scarlet’s until they finally intersect.
My favorite character in both books is Iko, Cinder’s personal android. Iko has a flaw in her personality chip that has given her the identity of a flirtatious, self-conscious, swooning teenager. Although Cinder’s evil stepmother destroys Iko out of spite in the first book, Cinder manager to save Iko’s personality chip. In Scarlet, Cinder brings Iko back to life by inserting her chip into the mainframe of Thorne’s ship.
“Cinder,” Iko said after a few minutes of explorations. “I’m enormous.” There was a distinct whine in her metallic tone.
“You’re a ship, Iko.”
“But I’m … how can I … no hands, no visual sensors, humongous landing gear — are those supposed to be my feet?”
“Well, no. It’s supposed to be landing gear.”
“Oh, what’s to become of me? I’m hideous!”
And after Thorne tries to tell her how beautiful she is — because his Rampion class spaceship is the finest there is and he will not stand to have it insulted (the final confirmation of a Han Solo character insertion) — Iko decides that Thorne is also quite handsome after pulling up photos of him from the net.
“And you, my fine lady, are the most gorgeous ship in these skies, and don’t let anyone ever tell you different.”
The temperature drifted upward, until Cinder dropped her arms with a sigh. “Iko, are you intentionally blushing?”
Scarlet ends with another cliffhanger and the threat of all-out war. This series is truly a race to the finish. I can’t stop reading them if I tried. Again, these books are recommended to all young adults and ages beyond.
By My Friend on Goodreads!