Author: Marissa Meyer
Narrator: Rebecca Soler
Series: The Lunar Chronicles, book #2
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Publication Date: February 5, 2013
Source: purchased/received from publisher for review
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible
Free Preview of first 5 chapters for Kindle | Nook
First, if you haven't already, you should read the FREE prequel story titled The Queen's Army. You can also purchase it for your e-reader, but it's free on Tor.com, and it's relatively short, so reading on your comp shouldn't be an issue. I mean, it's not absolutely imperative that you read it prior to Scarlet, but it gives you some background on a few characters that makes this story all the more intriguing.
If you'll remember, I was more than a little hesitant to read Cinder last year. In fact, I waited until just a few months before Scarlet's release to even give it a chance. But once I did, I was mesmerized. And I immediately wanted to read the sequel. However, I resisted the urge to read that five chapter preview (linked at the top). I'm an all-or-nothing kind of girl, and I knew a mere five chapters would do nothing to satiate my hunger for more of this story. So, I waited till the day of release and downloaded the audio to my phone first thing that morning...and had it finished in a couple of days. (And then I received a review copy from Macmillan Audio and reprimanded myself for being sooo impatient...I knew it was supposed to be on its way, but I just couldn't wait. :D)
Rebecca Soler's narration of Scarlet is even more intense and evocative than her recitation of the Cinder audiobook, which I also loved. There are more characters and there's more action, and she delivers just the right emotional punch to make the listener as much a part of the story as the characters themselves. Soler provides just the right amount of quirky, cocky and reticence to make each character a separate entity within the story. I truly hope this narrator performs the rest of the series, as she really does justice to this story and its many facets.
Scarlet's story is no more compelling or heart-wrenching than Cinder's, but if I was forced to choose which character I liked more, I don't know if I could. Both girls are strong and capable, if not stubborn and impulsive, and each brought something to the table. Each of their stories is told separately -- interspersed with bits from Prince Kai's perspective as he plays at a battle of wills with Queen Levana -- until they finally converge and meet for the first time. There is animosity and little to no trust at first, but the beginnings of a mutual understanding -- and possibly friendship -- are there.
Besides Scarlet, the addition of new male counterparts to this storyline was, well, fun. Wolf was mysterious and brooding and at times, left you pondering whether he really was the Big Bad Wolf to Scarlet's Red Riding Hood. I just adored this enigmatic character and the various interactions with other characters, pleasant or not. Then there's the egotistical, self-important Captain Carswell Thorne. His banter with Cinder and the fact that he was only initially freaked out by her being a cyborg AND a Lunar immediately endeared him to me. Thorne also fancies himself a ladies' man, and although I would love to see a Cinder/Thorne pairing, I don't think that's in their future. Like I said, Thorne is a bit of a flirt, and Cinder is still hung up on Prince Kai. I'll still take their sarcastic back-and-forth any day, though.
While the characters are essentially my favorite aspect of this series because they're just so interesting, I still thoroughly enjoy the storyline and where it seems to be headed. Each book in this series is based on a fairy tale: Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White. I like retellings, but I'm not usually all that impressed with them, though this series is definitely the exception to that. So far, I'm loving how each story is incorporated into the plot yet still leaving Cinder's story as the focal point. I'm very curious to see how the other stories play into the bigger picture.
If Cinder was about lies and manipulation, then Scarlet's focus is on all of the secrets that led up to that. It's engrossing and fast-paced, the kind of story you never want to end. And when it does, you're wondering why you couldn't have made yourself wait until the entire story was told so that you don't have to wait another year for the next installment. At least, that's where I am at this point.