Review: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer


January 30, 2013 by Heidi

Scarlet by Marissa MeyerTitle: Scarlet [Amazon|Goodreads]
Author: Marissa Meyer  [Website|Twitter|Facebook]
Standing: The Lunar Chronicles Book 2
Genre: Young Adult, SciFi, Retelling, Fairy Tale
Published: February 5th, 2013 by Feiwel and Friends
Format: Hardcover; 464 pages
Source: ARC from publisher.
Spoilers!: Believe it or not kids, this review is SPOILER FREE for BOTH Cinder and Scarlet.  I want to see new people pick up this series–I’m pretty sure 95% of those who read Cinder are already frothing at the mouth for this one.

Cinder returns in the second thrilling installment of the New York Times-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. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother and the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she has no choice but to trust him, though he clearly has a few dark secrets of his own.

As Scarlet and Wolf work to unravel one mystery, they find another when they cross paths with Cinder. Together, they must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen who will do anything to make Prince Kai her husband, her king, her prisoner.

About the last thing the internet needs right now is more cat videos, but I never really get sick of them, so what can you do?  If we narrow the internet down to readers, YA readers in particular, about the last thing we need is another review talking about how awesome Scarlet is.  But we just can’t help ourselves, because let me let tell you–it is awesome.  Scarlet is one of those rare second books in a series that are working to redefine second book syndrome for the better–it’s even more fun and engaging than its predecessor.

You should check out Scarlet if:

  • You love Bill Willingham’s Fables.  Okay…specifically, if you love Bigby Wolf.  A big bad wolf who can just as easily go on a murdering rampage as protect someone?  Yeah, Scarlet’s got one.  Wolf is one of those terrifyingly beautiful characters that you can’t help but falling in love with, even though you know it’s dangerous.  You know that he could literally rip your heart out, and are all too aware that he may not be entirely in control.  Usually these wolf boys just need the right type of girl to handle them.  For Bigby it’s Snow, but for Wolf it’s Scarlet.  Even in the original Red Riding Hood, the wolf doesn’t end up getting the better of Red in the end, and it’s quite obvious from the beginning that Scarlet won’t be gobbled up so easily.
  • You don’t like SciFi.  I’ve known multiple readers to shy away from this series once they realize that it involves cyborgs, people from the moon, and robots.  I’m here to assure you those aren’t valid reasons to stay away–no matter how ridiculous that sounds.  The Lunar Chronicles is in no way hard SciFi–in fact, it’s a fairly genre bending series.  My biggest issue with it may be that I feel some of the “science” isn’t explained well enough, and verges over into fantasy land, but I have less and less issue with this as we move forward because I’m so busy being engaged in Scarlet‘s fast paced plot and stunning characters.
  • You don’t like fairy tales.  Yes, each book in The Lunar Chronicles takes on a new fairy tale and retells it.  Not a fan of works like Shannon Hale’s middle grade retellings?  Well, first off–let me go breathe into a paper bag for a minute because I need to talk myself off a ‘you’re crazy’ rampage–but secondly, that’s perfectly valid (says the librarian in me).  Fairy tales really aren’t everyone’s cup of tea.  Here’s the thing–Marissa Meyer utilizes a very bare bones structure when forming her tales.  It’s so easy to get lost in the story and forget that you’re reading about a cyborg Cinderella or Little Red Riding Hood trying to get to Grandma, and that’s the way she intended it.  I feel as if the subtle connections between the major aspects of these fairy tales and The Lunar Chronicles are like shiny little Easter eggs for those of us who love these tales, but it’s also a great way to mostly forget that you ‘know’ the story you’re reading.
  • You like to fall in love with an unexpected character.  I’m not talking about Wolf again–because let’s face it, I’m a sucker for wolf boys and we all know it by now.  I’m talking about Thorne.  Thorne is my absolute favorite character from Scarlet, largely because I didn’t see him coming.  Or rather, even if I’d known he was going to be there, I’d have expected to hate him.  You see readers, Thorne is a bit of a smarmy bastard.  Usually, I hate smarmy.  I want to smack smarmy right off that man’s face.  But that man isn’t Captain Throne.  Thorne balances his smarm by being utterly ridiculous and slightly insane.  You can’t be completely confident in his confidence.  He manages to bring an unexpected element along with a large dose of humor to the story, making him that ultimate sidekick.  I really want to meet the woman who can handle Thorne–personally, I’m banking my hopes on Cress (Rapunzel’s castle was surrounded by thorns, was it not?).

In fact, I have to say that The Lunar Chronicles has something for everyone.  Like bad boys?  There’s Wolf.  Like good guys?  There’s Prince Kai.  Like the class clown?  There’s Thorne.  Like smart resourceful chicks?  There’s Cinder.  Like headstrong scrappy girls?  There’s Scarlet.  Like a villain that makes you so mad you shake with rage?  There’s Queen Lavana.  Sure, there’s elements not every reader will love, but I can’t help but pushing everyone to give Cinder and Scarlet a chance–you can take it up with me if you regret it.

Likelihood that I’ll be back for more:  Gah!!! I cannot wait for Cress!!  Like I said, I want to meet this chick, and also feel like Rapunzel is one of the fairy tale women that gets overlooked a lot.  I want to know what a pain her hair is.

Get a second opinion:
Angieville – “I kind of have a thing for this book.”
Alexa Loves Books – “this book is perfection to me.”
Good Books and Good Wine – “it makes me want to keysmash all kinds of words of love”

I’ve also reviewed:
Glitches by Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles .5)
Cinder by Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles 1)
The Queen’s Army by Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles 1.5)


If you liked that you might like this:


  1. Yes. To everything you said!

  2. YAY I cannot wait to read this!!! I’ve heard so many good things 😀

  3. I’m with Jen! I adore this book. Love what you said about the sci fi being “lite” and also addressing the fairy tale retelling. I am not always a HUGE fan of those (don’t hate me, Heidi!) but I LOVE how Meyers re-imagines them. If I am explaining to someone what Cinder and Scarlet is about, I often lose a person when I say Cinderella or Little Red Riding Hood. But I am quick to add that it is a retelling like no other (and it’s got cyborgs and moon people and romance and action/adventure!!)

    Wolf is just, sigh, amazing. And THORNE! What a show stealer. I so hope your Cress/ Thorne theory is right!

  4. Molly says:

    Lovely non-spoilery review!

  5. I could fangirl over Scarlet here in the comments, because of course I read and loved it, and want a Wolf of my own. However, I’m instead going to be complain about how much I want to read Fables, but how my library doesn’t have it. My life is very hard. Graphic novels are so expensive, but the series sounds perfect for me. What’s a girl to do?

    • And I have never even HEARD of Fables. But after reading both of your thoughts I am thinking I need to add this to my TBR list pronto.

      • Heidi says:

        That is IT. I am doing a Fables post. It’s one of my favorite things EVER, but I haven’t dedicated a post to it on the blog…I just bring it up a lot. 😛

    • Heidi says:

      OMG you DO need to read Fables! I’m sad that your library doesn’t have it…it’s such a big series that purchasing them is a big investment. I’m lucky to be dating a huge comic book nerd who happened to own the first 40 issues when we moved in together–go the rest from the library!

  6. YAAYYY my review for this goes up tomorrow and I also swoon over Wolf (obvs) and talk about his deliciously over protective nature :] This book was nearly perfect, it might have given me the biggest book hangover over the year TBH

    I can’t WAIIITT for Cress!! AHHH oh and I love Thorne too :]

    • Heidi says:

      Ah! I suck and still need to read your review (I’ve been such a slacker this week), but yes yes yes for Wolfy love.

  7. Angie says:

    Wolf, Wolf, Wolf, Wolf, Wolf, Wolf, Wolf, Wolf . . . . <3

  8. I’m literally shaking to get my hands on this book after reading your thoughts on Scarlet. And I love that you’ve written a different kind of review. I’ll admit to LIKING but not LOVING Cinder. But everything I hear about this book tells me that I’m going to fall in love with this series. It seems like everything gets bigger and better.

    I’m really hoping that these books are going to end up being like MWT’s series, in that you just can’t even fathom how amazing they’re going to be when you’re reading book one. Sci-fi isn’t my favorite, though I will read it, so I love that this isn’t just that. I DO love Shannon Hale’s MG books though. WHEW. We can still be friends :).

    And WOLF has me absolutely SALIVATING.

    • Heidi says:

      I really hope you do, Lauren! I know a fair amount of readers who didn’t love Cinder that enjoyed Scarlet so much more and are now thoroughly on board.

      Friend, you will LOVE wolf!

  9. SEE? You did it! You pinpointed my problem with this. I love sci-fi and this isn’t sci-fi enough, despite alluding to sci-fi aspects and world-building themes of dystopian magic that is never explained! I think if all this is finally explained in SCARLET, I’ll wind up jumping onto the bandwagon for this series. Either way, I have to check out the e-novella for sure before I consider picking this up. (Although, really, Wolf sounds AMAZING!) 😉

    • Heidi says:

      Yeah, I actually had issues with the world building in the first one because I was expecting harder SciFi. I was able to kind of let that go, and the second is so fact paced and with such high stakes that I honestly didn’t think about it at all anymore. I hope that you do give it a try, and even more that you like it!

  10. VeganYANerds says:

    You’re so right about reading this series even if you don’t like sci-fi, I LOVED Cinder :) And I am excited for this book 😀

    • Heidi says:

      I was so happy to read your positive thoughts on Cinder, Mands! SO glad you ended up loving it–Scarlet’s even better!

  11. Scarlet is amazing! As is The Lunar Chronicles series. I hate science fiction, but I love this series. Like you said, there’s something for everyone :) Now I need Cress.

    • Heidi says:

      That’s it, Quinn! This is such a genre bending series that I think it will make a lot of readers happy who might usually shy away from this sort of thing.

  12. Holly says:

    Thorne did grow on me by the end of the book. I really do hope he appears in Cress! “(Rapunzel’s castle was surrounded by thorns, was it not?)” *snickers*

    • Heidi says:

      Teehee. 😛

      And yeah, at first I thought I was going to hate Thorne, but I ended up kind of loving him. I think Wolf’s my normal book boyfriend…sad to say it, but Thorne’s more the guy I date in real life.

  13. Hah! It’s so true! There are a ton of positive reviews out there for this book, but I still love reading them and just…relishing how much everyone likes this. (I haven’t picked it up yet, so I can’t share in the general awesomeness, but all this hype is definitely building my anticipation.) So yeah, this is just me saying how glad I am that you liked this too!

    • Heidi says:

      Yes! I love reading everyone’s enthusiasm, some books deserve the hype, and this is one of them. I hope that it doesn’t disappoint you! I somehow doubt it will. :)

  14. Totally agree. I loved this more than Cinder. By a lot actually. Scarlet is the book that made me a huge fan of this series.

    I loved Thorne too! I loved all the new characters as well but Thorne made me giggle. I hope he has a bigger role in Cress.

    And you are right. There really IS a character for everybody. And I didn’t think of that when writing my review so that’s a really good point you made there. 😀

    Hell yeah! I cannot wait for Cress.

    • Heidi says:

      I feel like a lot of people didn’t enjoy Cinder as much as I did, but really fell into Scarlet–I’m so glad readers came back to give the series another chance!

      I’m glad for more Thorne fans, I can see how he would annoy a lot of people, but I kinda like it.

    Soon. I hope.

  16. Asheley says:

    YES. I can’t really say a lot that hasn’t already been said about this book but I want to high-five your comment about the bare bones fairy tales re-telling structure that Meyer uses. I’ll read just about any re-telling and see how I like it – I’m one of the fairy-tale lovers. But I LOVE what Meyer has imagined with her incredible mind so far and it WORKS. You don’t have to rip off a fairy tale to re-tell it. LOVE it. And all the characters in this book? PLEASE. I can’t believe I like this one more than Cinder. But I DO and that’s that. Dear gracious, HURRY Cress, I can’t stand it. My most anticipated book right now, which is a bold statement.

    • Heidi says:

      Yes! I love how different these are from any other fairy tale retellings that I’ve read, and yet they work so incredibly well. Goodness gracious I can’t wait for Cress.

  17. Mark says:

    Hello Heidi.
    Just a note to let you know how much I enjoyed your review. I have read hundreds, if not thousands this past year and yours is one of the best. Not only is it well written, it is insightful and informative. In short, you get it. And just so you know, this is the first time I have commented on a review. Again, well done!
    Best regards,
    Mark (Marissa’s dad).

    • Heidi says:

      Mark, thank you SO MUCH for your kind words. I am so glad that what I had to say about Marissa’s work resonated with you and that I GET it! 😀 I know you have to be proud of her success, and it is so well earned. I can’t wait to see what she writes next!

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While the source for each book I review is posted within its review, please assume unless otherwise stated that books reviewed on Bunbury in the Stacks were received free from the author or publisher in exchange for an honest review.