Hardcover, 464 pages
Expected publication: February 5th 2013 by Feiwel and Friends
Source: ARC provided by Raincoast Books
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.
The second installment in the Lunar Chronicles introduces various new characters into the exciting world created by Marissa Meyer. I have many things I want to say about this novel so bear with me.
As one of my friends, Stephanie Sinclair, said in her review, (paraphrased) it felt like Meyer attempted to do a whole lot more in one book than was possible. I really liked some of the things she did and I understand why she wanted to do everything she did but it just felt like there were too many things to focus on. As a reader, I felt that too many separate things wanted my attention and the things I really wanted to pay attention to weren’t granted enough page time. Know what I mean? No? Well, maybe you will sooner or later.
I loved Scarlet. She’s kickass, badass and all sorts of spunky. I loved how much she adored the farm she lived on and how close she was to her grandmother. In fact, while I knew the story was a retelling of Red Riding Hood, I felt that Scarlet, her grandmother and the world she lived in were totally original. I appreciated the troubled relationship she had with her father, it made Scarlet more multifaceted than she would have been. We’ll talk about Wolf later.
I was SO glad to see Cinder, you guys! I had been afraid that most of the focus would be on Scarlet and Cinder would be reduced to having a cameo in the book, with like ten pages dedicated to her troubles. I didn’t need to worry about that at all as she was very much present in the novel as was Kai though both were separated. The new character introduced, the unrepentant, irrepressible Carswell Thorne who is redeemed by his good heart and his willingness to help Cinder, adds a much needed lightness to the fare. More pieces of the puzzle that is Cinder as the Lunar princess fall into place and we get an intriguing look into the evil queen’s mind. I found that portion to be very satisfying as that glimpse into her thoughts made the queen more than a random villain and gave her motivations that are still reprehensible but understandable.
The pacing is swift, oh how swift it is. It moves at a breakneck pace and things happen whether you are ready for them or not. Scarlet’s Wolf is both interesting and not. His twist was unexpected and I thought his real colours show a brilliant sleight of hand by Meyer. I didn’t think too much of their romance as it happened too fast and there was never enough time for Scarlet and Wolf to develop the feelings that would have been necessary for them to achieve that level of emotional intimacy. I would have been satisfied with ambiguity where their feelings were concerned with the hint that they may have something more to them than could be shown. Then in the third book there could have been a continuation of their love-fest.
What I really wanted, I did not get. I wanted a sisterhood of sorts to spring up between Scarlet and Cinder. I hope it happens in book three though I am not sure there will be enough page time for it to happen. Cinder is faced with some existentialist questions in this installment – like who is she, what is she, can she accept who she was born to be – stuff like that and I think it is about time she sat down and had a good think about what it means to be her. I wasn’t too surprised by the ending and I had gathered Kai would make the decision he did from the desperation that seemed to rule him after Cinder disappeared. I’m certain it won’t go through but it does give the narrative a lot of tension which makes for wonderful reading.
All in all, I liked Cinder a bit more than I liked Scarlet simply because Cinder gave me a lot more time to get to know the characters in and out and empathize with them. However, Scarlet is a very strong installment to the series, developing the primary narrative in very strong ways while bringing another fairytale heroine into the melee. I can’t wait to see what happens in Cress because I know lots of things will. If you haven’t read Cinder yet, what are you waiting for? Seriously!