“And what do you have in that spaceship of yours?” the wolf asked her.
“Tomatoes from my grandmother’s farm,” Little Red Riding Hood replied. “Do you want one?”
The wolf was confused. “What’s a tomato?”
Michelle Benoit has been missing for two weeks, and the only person who seems to care is her granddaughter, Scarlet. Scarlet is sure that her grandmother has been kidnapped, and her only lead is Wolf, a street fighter she is reluctant to trust.
But Michelle isn’t the only person missing. Emperor Kai is using all of his resources to find Cinder, lest Lunar Queen Levana wage war on Earth. Even if he doesn’t want to turn her in.
And Cinder—cyborg, Lunar, and now fugitive—is on the search for Princess Selene, heir to the Lunar throne. Or rather, she’s looking for the princess’ past, as she and the princess are one and the same.
Loosely based off Little Red Riding Hood, Scarlet adapts the fairytale to the technological future quite well. I can’t say much more than that without major spoilers, but I can say that it takes the original tale’s sexual undertones rather subtley and seriously.
I can also say that while better than Cinder in terms of adaptation, it’s still painfully predictable. Meyer leaves rather obvious clues, which the characters can’t figure out, but the reader can because they know all the information.
And yet while being fairly predictable at times, it’s absolutely surprising at others. The connection between Cinder and Scarlet was not what I was expecting, but it made complete sense. And Cinder’s past? Brilliant.
Scarlet is a fun character. She’s brash and dedicated. Like Cinder, she’s strong, but not necessarily in the same way. Scarlet is very sure of her own abilities, she knows what she can and cannot do. Her character is very driven by the love she has and wants, and I like seeing that in her.
I like Wolf a lot too, but I got a weird Edward Cullen-y vibe from him (except I like Wolf). There’s a balance of animalistic instinct, childish ignorance, and human morals in him that is enjoyable to read. His interactions with Scarlet are genuine. On the face of it, their relationship is very passion-driven, but there are subtleties that I started to notice as the story progressed. I like how they pay attention to one another. Scarlet can tell when his animal instincts take over and she coaxes him back to humanity. Wolf can tell when she’s about to do something reckless, and will protect her at all costs.
Thorne is a fun addition. He’s that cliche rakish character who thinks he’s suave and a badass. His interactions with Cinder and Iko are some of my favourites in the novel, and I can see why Meyer paired him with Cinder. Thorne can fight but is completely inept at mechanics. He’s the street smart to Cinder’s book smart, and their bickering sessions are the best. They’re the siblings they never had.
Cinder and Kai have some great character development in this book too. There’s an odd parallel between them: they suddenly have this great responsibility thrust upon them, and they skirt around it for as long as possible before finally giving in. It shows real growth in both of them.
Meyer’s writing is much better here. Not necessarily better in terms of imagery (because that’s still lacking), but the adaptation is much, much better. I love the adaptation of the Wolf from the fairytale, integrating it with the sci-fi elements very well. I do have a small issue that in a technologically advanced society the best weapon available is a shotgun (especially in an American military ship) but I’ll let it slide.
My favourite part about Meyer’s writing is the little details she puts into her characters. Each has a specific set of habits and mannerisms, and you can trace them through the story. One of my favourites is how she mentions Wolf scratching behind his ear, and while he doesn’t do it with his foot, I immediately thought of a dog. Then there’s Scarlet with her hoodie drawstrings, Cinder and her hands, and Kai with his hair.
I really like the focus on manipulation in this book. There’s the obvious glamour of the Lunars, but I appreciate Scarlet’s take on it: the manipulation of flirting and seduction.
I also like the take on loyalty, trust, and responsibilty—something all of the characters face. It’s a coming of age story for all of them, whether they be royalty or common.
A strong follow-up to Cinder, Scarlet is a great adaptation of a beloved fairytale with a sci-fi spin. It builds plot and answers questions while leaving more in its wake.
Recommendation: Buy. Scarlet promises a good series as a whole. Meyer’s adaptation abilities are outstanding, layering the stories rather than drowning them out. Definitely continue with this series if you’ve started with Cinder. It’s worth it!