Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

13206760Scarlet is the second book in Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles and loosely follows the Little Red Riding Hood story. Much like Cinder, what’s old is new again and Meyer successfully manages to imbue new life into the familiar tales. I love how she manages to interweave the fairy tales together creating interesting connections between Scarlet and Cinder that are believable and so much fun.

We pick up right where Cinder left off, switching back and forth between the two girls’ perspectives. I enjoyed each voice equally and wasn’t bothered by the back and forth one bit. The story still manages to keep up Cinder’s non-stop, breakneck pacing with one adventure following the next. I adore Meyer’s female leads immensely. Strong, independent teenagers growing up in a crazy dystopian world where cyborgs, humans, and aliens aren’t managing to get along very well.

As much as I liked Scarlet, Cinder still stands as the better novel. Scarlet abounds in insta-love which is a young adult trope I cannot get on board with. That sucks since Cinder and Kai’s flirting and quietly burgeoning relationship was perfection – one of the book’s most attractive qualities. I guess having two unrequited love stories happening simultaneously might have been too much. However, I’d have preferred no additional love plot line to the insta-love far too often found in YA novels.

I recommend this collection of novels if you’re looking for mostly well-done YA with female leads not afraid to get their hands dirty and kick some ass. Summer brain candy at its finest and earns a deserving spot in anyone’s beach bag!

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

11235712I’ve had such an intense love/hate relationship with YA fiction this year.  And even the supposedly awesome selections weren’t as amazing as I had hoped they would be.  I’m not sure why this is because normally reading 10-15 YA books a year is like crack to me.  Love me some YA.  But this year, not so much. (I’d love some recommendations of amazing YA if you’ve got them!)

However, Cinder was definitely a bright spot.  Soaked it right up – literally read in 1.5 sittings.  It’s a modern re-telling of Cinderella – very well done.  The story takes place far in the future after many world wars have changed the face and politics of planet Earth.  Cinder lives in New Beijing (old Beijing was destroyed) and is a cyborg.  She’s human, but with robotic parts.  She’s also a kick ass mechanic and her best friend is an android.  Her world is rocked when her youngest stepsister comes down with this pandemic plague virus that currently has no cure and Cinder becomes very important in the search for said cure.  Meanwhile, she’s also battling an evil stepmother, stepsister, alien Lunar Queen (you read that right), and her burgeoning crush on the gorgeous Prince Kai.

Most of YA is plot driven and Cinder is no different.  Meyer’s debut novel excels at pacing, story, and characters you come to really care about.  Her take on this fairy tale classic has all the original and essential elements – just with awesomely updated twists.  Plus, the Lunars’ story line adds something new and entirely fresh to enhance what could have merely been a super predictable re-telling.  Aliens, cyborgs, and handsome princes – yes, please!

Cinder endears herself to readers almost effortlessly.  You’ll be touched by her relationships with Peony and Iko and appalled by her stepmonster and the evil bitch queen.  But most importantly, you will CARE.  The romance element, which normally loses me in YA with all the insta-love, is well done here.  This is not love at first site and marriage after first kiss.  Kai and Cinder slowly get to know one another – Meyer actually just lets them crush for the whole book! Almost unheard of and absolutely appreciated.

I also loved Meyer’s world-building and that her story doesn’t take place in America. The Chinese setting lends a bit of mystique and flavor to the novel for those of us who haven’t grown up there or visited. Between China and the Moon, Meyer’s really stepping away from the norm of other YA novels which wins her a ton of points in my book.  I do hope that we learn a bit more about these world wars in future books.

Some readers might complain about the predictability of the story, but it didn’t bother me too much.  While I did see almost every plot twist well ahead of time, I enjoyed the journey regardless.  I looked forward to reading how Meyer’s unsuspecting characters would discover the truths and how these new realities would change and affect their lives.

Most importantly, I had so much fun reading Cinder and can’t wait for Scarlet, the second book in this 4 part series.  The idea of multiple fairy tale heroines teaming up together is exciting and superhero-ish in the best way.  Highly recommended for when you need some fast paced brain candy filled with action, political intrigue, and old-fashioned princesses getting a kick ass modern update.  Plus, the cover is GORGEOUS.