Friday, March 1, 2013

Book Review: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

WARNING: Spoilers for Cinder, Book One of The Lunar Chronicles, ahead!

When we last left Cinder, cyborg mechanic and long-lost but recently discovered Lunar princess Selene, she had been imprisoned in Beijing by her beloved Emperor Kai after crashing down the steps at the imperial ball, revealing her cyborg foot and Lunar origins to a horrified public - and Emperor - after frantically racing there to warn Kai that Lunar Queen Levana was plotting to kill him.  But now, with the help of fellow inmate Captain Carswell Thorne (imprisoned for the left of a spaceship, which he just happens to still have in storage), Cinder is on the run, desperate to stay one cyborg foot ahead of the manipulative, cruel Queen Levana, who has ordered Cinder's immediate execution upon her capture.

In France, Scarlet Benoit's grandmother has been missing for weeks.  With no leads other than her excised ID chip, her abandoned portscreen, and the fact that she missed Scarlet's birthday (which Scarlet is quite sure would never, ever happen had her grandmother left of her own free will), the police have concluded that Michelle Benoit either committed suicide or vanished voluntarily.  Although her grandmother once served as a military pilot, she's been retired from service for decades, instead farming and selling her produce to local village taverns and restaurants, and Scarlet knows she would never just leave her home- or her granddaughter. Which obviously means that her grandmother was kidnapped, and it's up to Scarlet to find her.

When Scarlet meets rugged, handsome street fighter Wolf delivering vegetables to one of her grandmother's tavern customers, Wolf seems to be quiet, respectful, and mild-mannered, and is oddly ignorant of commonplace things, like tomatoes.  But when he defends her in a tavern brawl he turns out to be ruthless and brutal in a fight. Scarlet also notices a strange tattoo on Wolf's wrist that reads LSOP962.  She's intrigued, but decides she has too much going on trying to find her grandmother - no complications needed, especially not the handsome sort that's never seen a common garden vegetable.

But when Scarlet gets home, she finds her father tearing through her grandmother's bedroom, frantic, crazy, and looking desperately for something.  Scarlet hasn't seen her father in years, which isn't unusual - raised by her grandmother, her father abandoned the family long ago, except when he needs money.  This time, though, Scarlet's dad tells her that he was taken by the same people who have her grandmother - and tortured.  The only thing he saw was a tattoo - one just like Wolf's.  And they want information that Michelle Benoit has kept hidden for a long time.

With Wolf's help, Scarlet fights her way to Paris to find the people who took her grandmother.  In the skies above Earth, Cinder realizes that there is one woman who may hold the secrets to her past.  And behind the palace walls in Beijing, Kai and Queen Levana enter into a deadly chess match of wills and strategy to decide who will rule the Commonwealth - and Earth.

A fairy tale retelling with a twist of dystopia and more than a little bit of futuristic techno sci-fi awesome, fans of Cinder will love the sequel!  Scarlet and Cinder are tough-girl heroines with a lot of punch and pizazz, and Levana  puts the evil in evil queen with all sorts of horrible.  If you love your fairy tales shaken, stirred, and spiced up with cyborgs, aliens, psychic powers, bioengineering and spaceships, you're going to want to grab The Lunar Chronicles @the library this weekend!

(now reading Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff, which is all the eerie, creepy macabre fabulous I've come to expect from The Replacement author!)