In complete contrast to what I normally think about second books in a series, I not only enjoyed Scarlet as much as Cinder, but I think it improved Cinder in my mind.
Scarlet is a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, set in the same world as Cinder (with Lunar society and cyborgs etc), only set in France rather than China. Scarlet’s grandmother has been kidnapped, and there’s a strange new man in her little town who goes by the name of Wolf and participates in local fighting rings. The book is punctuated by pieces from the fairy tale (What big teeth you have!), and periodically follows Cinder’s story until the stories collide.
This was a fascinating book, and I loved the way the fairy tale played out. I loved Wolf’s wolf-society, even though it was obviously a lie. I never guessed the truth about him, though – about where he was from, anyway. I never trusted him, and I was actually surprised by the way his character developed. I enjoyed it.
I also enjoyed several of the other characters, particularly Iko (come back to life as a ship!) and Cinder’s new companion, “Captain” Carswell.
The best thing about this book, though, is, as I said above, that it improved Cinder (the book) quite a bit. I really thought the whole Lunar plotline was superfluous in the first book, but there was a lot more about it in this one, and I no longer feel quite so unsatisfied with the first book. I liked seeing where Cinder (the character) went after the end of the first book, and I liked seeing the glimpses back at Kai and several of the other characters from before. I’m looking forward to seeing more from the doctor, who I believe will be in the next book.
My only disappointment was in discovering that the next book will be based on Rapunzel, my least favorite fairy tale ever. I’ve hated every retelling of Rapunzel that I’ve read, so I’m really hoping that Meyer manages to win me over on that score!!