I was going to write my own review of Cinder, but Isa did such a good job with hers that there isn’t much I could add. To be honest I probably liked Cinder less than she did because of several reasons. Mostly I was worried that, like with many other young adult series, the author had a good idea for the first book but in the second the plot would start to wander. Happily, that wasn’t the case. I think I might have liked Scarlet better than Cinder. Not that I disliked Cinder, but it didn’t grip me like Scarlet did, maybe because I wasn’t interested in all the bits about the ball and the prince.
Scarlet, however. It picks off right where the other book left off, with Cinder having to run from the evil queen, and having already established the setting it wastes no time in jumping into the action. We pick up a new sidekick for Cinder, the dashing Captain Thorne — who’s not actually very dashing and not even a captain, and would probably pout at being called a sidekick. And there’s a new protagonist and POV heroine, the titular Scarlet, who’s a French girl living on a farm with (you guessed it) her grandmother. There is a grandmother and there is a mysterious guy named Wolf, but Marissa Meyer does more than giving Scarlet a hoodie and call it a modern retelling. The fairytale elements are just the starting point that she uses to spin a very original and compelling story.
Overall, I really liked this book. Thorne is definitely a better foil than Kai, he grew on me a lot and I enjoyed his interactions with Cinder. It took me a while to start liking Wolf and Scarlet, mostly because I read the short story The Queen’s Army and it spoils a couple of things. I get that narratively the story fits best between the first and second book, but in hindsight I should’ve left it for later. Scarlet’s story takes a while to pick up at first, but when it finally gets going it’s really interesting to see how Scarlet and Cinder are linked together.
I loved that the fairytale references are more subtle in this one. My favourite bits were those from Cinder’s POV but I loved the relationship between Scarlet and her grandmother. Iko was so precious and I want to hug her. I especially love the fact that Cress just came out so I can start reading straight away.
The Lunar Chronicles series also has three short stories available online for free.
- Glitches is a short prequel to the series and gives some background about Cinder’s and Iko’s backstory, I suggest to read this after the first book. It’s quite good.
- The Queen’s Army is chronologically set between the first and the second book, but since it gives away a couple of rather important details about Scarlet I suggest to read it after. The only short story of the bunch that I wasn’t crazy about.
- The Little Android is probably the best of the bunch. It’s set shortly before the beginning of Cinder but can be read at any time because it doesn’t have any ties with the main series’ plot. The story is a short retelling of The Little Mermaid and it’s lovely and bittersweet.