WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD FOR CINDER
The sequel to Cinder, Marissa Meyer's Scarlet carries on the retelling of fairytale tradition by introducing us to some non-familiar familiar characters, and upping the stakes for the ones we already know.
The titular Scarlet is, of course, based on Red Riding Hood. Only transported to France, working in her grandmother's grocery business and fiercely independent.
When we meet Scarlet, her grandmother has been missing for almost two weeks, and the police aren't bothered enough to try and find her.
Scarlet takes matters in her own hands, and joins up with Wolf, a lean, mean street fighter who tells Scarlet her grandmother is in Paris. So off they go.
Running alongside Scarlet's narrative is the continuation of Cinder's story. When readers left Cinder, she wasn't exactly in the best place. In Scarlet she breaks out of jail and goes on the run, accompanied by Carswell Thorne, a soldier in the American military who's wanted all over the place for various crimes.
As a tertiary story, we see how Emperor Kai is coping with Cinder on the run and Lunar Queen Levana seriously hacked off. Hacked off enough to start an offensive against Earth.
As in Cinder, Meyer creates brilliant characters. I already liked Kai and Cinder, and I like them even more in this book as the pair struggle against forces in their lives they have no control over. Kai was slightly sidelined, so it was a little harder to relate to him in this book, as his appearances are few and far between.
Iko is also back, in a slightly different form, and continuing to be the human friend and confidant Cinder needs, despite not being human at all.
But it's with the new characters that Meyer truly shines. Thorne is a perfect sidekick - funny, witty and someone who really grounds Cinder. The pair have a great love-hate relationship, and despite his criminal background, you know from the moment Cinder and Thorne meet that he's going to be a loyal friend.
Scarlet is instantly someone you want to be - she's tough, she stands up for what she believes in, and she shows no fear. But there's more to her than the fighter, and Meyer shows that in the way Scarlet's relationship with and feelings for Wolf develop.
Ah, Wolf. What can I say about him? Not a lot, without spoiling the heck out of everything. Needless to say, he is and isn't the wolf from the Little Red Riding Hood fairytale.
I could easily picture everything from Scarlet's home to the mean streets of Paris to Thorne's ship in my mind because of Meyer's talent for building worlds. This helps, because the action of Scarlet takes place over just a few short days, so there's a lot crammed in.
Meyer's good at balancing out the louder moments with quieter ones, and although Cinder and Scarlet are brought together in an explosive way, it's the quiet finale that really grabs at you.