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4.7 16
Young Adult Fiction 650
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The tale that began in Cinder carries on in Scarlet, and this time around Meyer is even more ambitious than she was before. Combining the narratives of a familiar voice, Cinder, and a new voice, Scarlet, this book covers an intense few days, during which the evil Lunar army and its Queen stop at nothing to get what they want.

Scarlet is different from a lot of sequels in the way that it added an additional point of view to the existing perspective. The story is pretty evenly balanced between Scarlet and Cinder’s actions, with occasional glimpses of Emperor Kai in New Beijing. I think this method of storytelling is pretty high stakes, since it isn’t until halfway through the (rather lengthy) book that the connection between Cinder and Scarlet is revealed, and it’s only in the last few chapters that the two teenagers meet up. So for much of the book, this is just two different girls running around trying to survive. Personally, I thought both narratives were interesting, though I am worried about what will happen in future installments, when I assume Meyer will add in a third and fourth girl’s point of view. Scarlet on its own is already a very long YA book, covering only a few days.

For the longest time, I had trouble putting my finger on why I was less than enthused with Scarlet. Don’t get me wrong, I like this book, but I wasn’t totally impressed like most of my friends were. But in the last 50 pages, when Cinder and Scarlet meet up, I figured it out. For me, the two girls’ voices were exactly the same. They spoke the same, thought the same, had the same basic personality. If you switched their names, I wouldn’t have been able to tell them apart. I think that’s a very big issue with dual-narrative books: making the different characters have unique voices. I definitely didn’t think Scarlet or Cinder were unique, and when they were together in the same scene, they might as well have been clones.

I could also say the same about most of the other characters, really. I think that, in general, Meyer’s characters are interesting and easy to root for, but also a bit superficial. The two love interests—Kai and Wolf—have pretty much the same attracting qualities. Nice guy, doesn’t want the power he’s been given, tries to do the right thing. I like those kind of love interests, but not at the cost of a bland, formulaic cast of characters.

I do, however, still enjoy Marissa Meyer’s way of achieving a fairytale retelling. She definitely makes the story her own, while still alluding to the Little Red Riding Hood tale. I like that this isn’t a verbatim retelling, just with the setting switched, as that would be quite dull. In some places, I might like a bit more depth as far as world-building goes, but this isn’t bad at all. Definitely, Scarlet (and the entire series) is pretty much Sci-fi Lite.

Overall, I think this is a fast-paced and fun story. In some places I might have preferred a less shallow approach, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with Scarlet as is. Meyer’s writing is exciting and full of action, and even though readers know how things will turn out in the end, the plot stays fresh. I think this is a very good book, and is an excellent example of a fairytale retelling done right.
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