Today I Read…Scarlet

Today I read Scarlet by Marissa Meyer, the second book in The Lunar Chronicles. My review of the first book, Cinder, can be found here. Scarlet

Scarlet Benoit lives with her grand-mere Michelle on a farm in France. It’s hard work, and they don’t earn much money, but they’re happy there. Until one day when Scarlet’s grandmother disappears. The police are useless–they think that Michelle just decided to up and leave. Scarlet knows better–she knows that something terrible must have happened, but no one will listen to her.

No one, that is, except for Wolf, the street fighter. Wolf may be large and violent and strange, but he keeps turning up and helping Scarlet–more so than her own father, who finally shows up at the farm after abandoning her years ago. Her father, who has been tortured, who betrayed his own mother to his tormentors and helped kidnap her so that she too can be interrogated and tortured. Now Scarlet and Wolf are traveling to Paris to try and rescue Michelle from Wolf’s former packmates , the violent gang who call themselves the Wolves. At least, Wolf says they’re a gang, just like he says he ran away from them. Whether Wolf can be trusted remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, Cinder has escaped from jail with the help of the self-proclaimed “Captain” Thorne and his stolen spaceship, and now they’re on the run from the evil Queen Levana and her Lunars who are demanding Cinder’s capture and execution, and from Emperor Kai and the Eastern Commonwealth–Kai who just wants to understand how the pretty mechanic Cinder can really be a murderous, lying Lunar and a repulsive cyborg. He also has to balance his feelings for Cinder against the demands of Queen Levana, who has offered him a choice–marry her or be invaded.

Good thing nobody ever said being a long-lost magical moon princess was easy. *************************************************************************************************

Scarlet is an excellent follow-up to Cinder. It introduces Scarlet Benoit, or Little Red Riding Hood, and tells her story of trying to rescue her grandmother from the Wolves, but it also continues Cinder’s story from the first book while showing how their stories are intertwined.

Scarlet doesn’t focus as much on Earth class structures, since Scarlet is fully human. While she was raised to be open-minded by her grandmother, and defends Cinder even before she meets her or finds out about their connection, Scarlet doesn’t have the same concerns as Cinder does. Instead we learn a little bit more about Lunar culture, which has deviated from Earth culture over the years that they have been separated, with little contact between the two worlds. Queen Levana not only rules her subjects’ behaviour but also their minds and bodies, to the point of changing her army into monsters. Wolf is caught between what he was created to be and what he could be with Scarlet.

The action is also ramped up in this story, since both Scarlet and Cinder are on the run trying to find something–Scarlet running to find her kidnapped grandmother and Cinder running away from prison and trying to discover the truth about herself and her past. With the attacks by the Wolf packs and the start of the Lunar invasion, there is a lot more violence in this book than in the last one, and a more explicit romance between Scarlet and Wolf than there was between Cinder and Kai. However, both the violence and the sex are still at about a PG rating.

Meyer has created an interesting world, and filled it with strong characters (I have to admit, a strong female protagonist, especially a self-rescuing princess, will hook me in every time). The only problem is that now I have to wait until next year when the third book, Cress, is scheduled to be released. I want to know what happens next!

*************************************************************************************************

Anger clawed its way back up Scarlet’s throat and she half slammed, half dropped the stack of plates back onto the booth’s table. She ignored the startled expressions around her and shoved through the crowd, circling to the back of the bar.

The bewildered bartender watched on as Scarlet pushed some liquor bottles out of the way and climbed up onto the counter that stretched the length of the wall. Reaching up, she opened a wall panel beneath a shelf of cognac glasses and plucked out the netlink cable. All three screens went black, the palace garden and cyborg girl vanishing.

A roar of protest bellowed up around her.

Scarlet spun to face them, accidentally kicking a bottle of wine off the bar. The glass shattered on the floor, but Scarlet barely heard it as she waved the cable at the incensed crowd. “You all should have some respect! That girl’s going to be executed!”

“That girl’s a Lunar!” a woman yelled. “She should be executed!”

The sentiment was enforced with nods and someone lobbing a crust of bread at Scarlet’s shoulder. She planted both hands on her hips. “She’s only sixteen.”

A brash of arguments roared up, men and women alike clambering to their feet and screaming about Lunars and evil and that girl tried to kill a Union leader!

“Hey, hey, everyone calm down! Give Scarlet a break!” Roland yelled, his confidence bolstered by the whiskey on his breath. He held his hands out toward the jostling crowd. “We all know crazy runs in her family. First that old goose runs off, and now Scar’s defending Lunar rights!”

A parade of laughter and jeers marched past Scarlet’s ears, but were muddled by the sound of her own rushing blood. Without knowing how she’d gotten off the counter, she was suddenly halfway over the bar, bottles and glasses scattering, her fist connecting with Roland’s ear.

He yelped and spun back to face her. “What—”

“My grandma’s not crazy!” She grabbed the front of his shirt. “Is that what you told the detective? When he questioned you? Did you tell him she was crazy?”

“Of course I told him she was crazy!” he yelled back, the stench of alcohol flooding over her. She squeezed the fabric until her fists ached. “And I bet I wasn’t the only one. With the way she keeps herself holed up in that old house, talks to animals and androids like they’re people, chases folk away with a rifle—”

“One time, and he was an escort salesman!”

“I’m not one tinge surprised that Granny Benoit split her last rocket. Seems to me it’s been coming a long while.”

Scarlet shoved Roland hard with both hands. He stumbled back into Émilie, who’d been trying to get in between them. Émilie screamed and fell back onto a table in her effort to keep Roland from crushing her.

Roland regained his balance, looking like he couldn’t decide if he wanted to smirk or snarl. “Better be careful, Scar, or you’re going to end up just like the old—”

Table legs screeched against tile and then the fighter had one hand wrapped around Roland’s neck, lifting him clear off the floor.

*********************************************************************************************************

She wiped her damp palm on her bleached-white jumper. This was not about Carswell Thorne. This was about Queen Levana and Emperor Kai and Princess Selene. The innocent child Levana had tried to murder thirteen years ago, but who had been rescued and smuggled down to Earth. Who remained the most-wanted person in the world. Who just happened to be Cinder herself.

She’d known for less than twenty-four hours. Dr. Erland, who had known for weeks, decided to inform her that he’d run DNA tests proving her bloodline only after Queen Levana had recognized her at the annual ball and threatened to attack Earth if Cinder wasn’t thrown into jail for being an illegal Lunar emigrant.

So Dr. Erland had sneaked into her prison cell and given her a new foot (hers had fallen off on the palace steps), a state-of-the-art cyborg hand with fancy gadgets that she was still getting used to, and the biggest shock of her life. He’d then told her to escape and come meet him in Africa, like that would be no more difficult than installing a new processor on a Gard3.9.

This order, simultaneously so simple and so impossible, had given her something to focus on other than her newfound identity. Good thing too because when she dwelled on that, her entire body had a tendency to seize up, leaving her useless, and this was a bad time to be suffering from indecision. Regardless of what she would do when she got out, she was sure of one thing:not escaping meant certain death when Queen Levana came to claim her.

She peered back at the inmate again. If she had a close destination in mind, and a working spaceship at that, it could be the key to her escape.

He was still twiddling his thumbs, still obeying her command—just leave me alone. The words had been fire in her mouth when she’d said them, while her blood had boiled and her skin had burned. The sensation of overheating was a side effect of her new Lunar gift—powers that Dr. Erland had managed to unlock after a device implanted on her spine had kept her from using them for so many years. Although it still seemed like magic to her, it was really a genetic trait Lunars were born with that allowed them to control and manipulate the bioelectricity of other living creatures. They could trick people into seeing things that weren’t real or experiencing made-up emotions. They could brainwash people into doing things they wouldn’t otherwise do. Without argument. Without resistance.

Cinder was still learning how to use this “gift” and she wasn’t entirely sure how she’d managed to control Carswell Thorne, just as she wasn’t sure how she’d managed to persuade one of the jail guards to move her to a more convenient cell. All she knew was that she’d wanted to strangle this inmate when he wouldn’t stop talking, and her Lunar gift had surged at the base of her neck, spurred on by stress and nerves. She’d lost control of it for a moment and in that breath Thorne had done precisely what she’d wanted him to do.

He’d stopped talking and left her alone.

Her guilt had been instantaneous. She didn’t know what kind of effect it had on a person, all that brain manipulation. And, more than that, she didn’t want to be one of those Lunars who took advantage of her powers just because she could. She didn’t want to be Lunar at all.

**************************************************************************************************

Kai paced before the netscreen, his gut twisting with anxiety. He straightened his shirt, wrinkled from a long day, but at least he’d still been in his office when the alert had come. He believed he might never experience a full night of sleep again after this.

After what he was about to do.

In his frenzied thoughts, he couldn’t help thinking of Cinder at the ball. How happy he’d been to see her descending the stairs into the ball room. How innocently amused he’d been at her rain-drenched hair and wrinkled dress, thinking it was a fitting look for the city’s most renowned mechanic. He’d thought she must be immune to society’s whims of fashion and decorum. So comfortable in her own skin that she could come to a royal ball as the emperor’s own guest with messy hair and oil stains on her gloves and keep her head high as she did so.

That was before he knew that she’d rushed to the ball to give him a warning.

Cinder had sacrificed her own safety to plead with him not to accept the alliance. Not to marry Levana. Because after the marriage ceremony was done and she had ascended to the throne of the Eastern Commonwealth, Levana intended to kill him.

He felt sick to his stomach, knowing that Cinder was right. He knew that Levana wouldn’t hesitate to dispose of him as soon as he’d served his purpose.

But he had to stop these murders. He had to stop this war.

Cinder was not the only one capable of sacrificing herself for something greater.

Inhaling, exhaling, he faced the screen.

“Establish vidlink to Queen Levana of Luna.”

The small globe in the corner turned over only once before it brightened with the image of the Lunar queen, draped in her lacy white veil. He imagined her face old and haggard and decrepit beneath its sheath, and it didn’t help.

Kai sensed she’d been waiting for his comm. He sensed she’d been listening in on everything, and already knew precisely what his intentions were. He sensed she was smirking behind the veil.

“My dear Emperor Kaito, what a pleasant surprise. It must be quite late in New Beijing. About two hours and twenty-four minutes past midnight, is that correct?”

He swallowed his disgust as best he could and opened his hands wide to her. “Your Majesty, I beg you. Please stop this attack. Please call off your soldiers.”

The veil shifted as she listed her head to the side. “You beg me? How delightful. Do go on.”

Heat flooded his face. “Innocent people are dying—women and children, bystanders, people who haven’t done anything to you. You’ve won, and you know it. So please, end it now.”

“You say I’ve won, but what is my prize, young emperor? Have you captured the cyborg girl who started all this? She is the one you should be appealing to. If she turns herself over to me then I will call off my men. That is my offer. Do let me know when you are prepared to bargain with me. Until then, good night.”

“Wait!”

She folded her hands. “Yes?”

His pulse thrummed painfully against his temples. “I can’t give you the girl—we thought we had her, but she’s gotten away again, as I suspect you already know. But I can’t let you continue to murder innocent Earthens while we try and find another way to track her.”

“I’m afraid that’s not my problem, Your Majesty.”

“There’s something else you want, something I can offer. We both know what that is.”

“I’m sure I don’t know what you speak of.”

Kai didn’t realize he was gripping his hands, practically pleading with her, until his knuckles started to ache. “If your offer of a marriage alliance still stands, I accept. Your prize for calling off your men will be the Commonwealth.” His voice broke on the final word and he clamped his jaw shut.

He waited, breathless, knowing that every second that passed meant more bloodshed on the streets of Earth.

After an agonizing silence, Levana tittered. “My dear Emperor. How could I resist such a charming proposal?”

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6 thoughts on “Today I Read…Scarlet

  1. Superb blog! Do you have any helpful hints for aspiring writers?
    I’m planning to start my own blog soon but I’m a little lost on everything.
    Would you recommend starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option?
    There are so many choices out there that I’m totally confused .. Any tips? Bless you!

    • Well, I’m fond of free sites because I’m cheap. And broke. Mostly because I’m broke.
      Wordpress is fairly easy to use- it will do both an html view and a WYSIWYG view for posts similar to Word. There’s some tutorials and videoes for how to set one up, but I’d say just sign up and mess around. I keep fiddling and altering and adding things as I figure it out and decide what is most useful for my purposes. Good luck!

  2. Pingback: Today I Read…Cinderella Ate My Daughter | wadingthroughbooks

  3. Pingback: Today I Read…Cress | wadingthroughbooks

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