Cinder is in a bit of a mess. She’s in prison awaiting transport to Luna, where Queen Levana will surely execute her. Given that she just learned that she is the lost princess Selene, she cannot allow this to happen and busts out of jail, using another prisoner to help. Now they are on the run and Cinder tries to determine her next move and avoid recapture. Everyone assumes that if they can just discover the identity of the lost princess and find her, all will be saved. Cinder doesn’t know how to save everyone, but the worse things get in the kingdom, the more she realizes she will need to find a way. On the other side of the world, Scarlet Benoit is searching for her grandmother. Everyone assumes the old woman ran away, but Scarlet knows she’d never abandon her like that. When she finds Wolf, a fighter with information on her grandmother’s whereabouts, she’ll stop at nothing to rescue the old woman, even if it costs her life. Meanwhile, Prince Kai is trying to find a way to avoid marrying Queen Levana and that may lead to more problems than any of them are ready to handle.
I was a little nervous to start this. I adored Cinder (both the novel and the character) and I wasn’t very keen on the idea of changing perspectives. I’ve read books before where that has went disastrously. Shifts in perspective have caused me to abandon series before or make it very difficult to finish because I hate the new voice. The forth Vampire Diaries book by LJ Smith is the best example of that. I had a very difficult time getting through that because, regardless of how much I loved the characters and the story, Bonnie’s voice was dull. Luckily, that is NOT the case here. Scarlet voice is strong and clear and intense. She’s a very different character than Cinder, but just as enjoyable.
Cinder is the same character we remember from the novel of the same name. She’s smart and snarky and determined to stay out of Levana’s grasp. Her cyborg/lunar combination makes her a very unique character. She’s very interesting to watch and easy sympathize with. How can you not? She’s been forced into servitude her entire life and now that she is finally out from underneath her Step-Mom’s thumb, she is on the run, and learns that she must find a way to save the planet from her evil aunt. As if having an evil step-mom and step-sister wasn’t bad enough, she has to deal with evil blood relatives. And the loss of Peony still weighs heavy on her mind, as does the loss of Iko. Never fear, though, because she finds a new “body” for Iko. Iko, by the way, is probably my favorite character. The “malfunctioning” operating chip has such spunk and personality that you cannot help but love her. Her obsession with Prince Kai is comical all around, as is her desire to be pretty.
Kai is another character that I cannot help by feel sorry for. He’s caught in a no win situation. If he marries Levana, he knows he’ll basically be handing her the Common Wealth on a platter and that she’ll assassinate him quickly after her coronation. But the longer he refuses, the angry she gets and that could lead to a slaughter that no one is ready for. Not to mention the fact that she has the antidote to Letimoses (spelling? I listened to this entire thing on audio) and that could say billions of people with the terminal illness. Then he learns that he girl he likes is actually a cyborg? A Lunar cyborg? Was she lying to him the whole time? What, if anything, of their interactions was real? The doubt swirling around his head and her and his own ability to lead this country had me wanting to hug the poor guy.
We get quite a few new characters in this installment. My favorite new addition is Carswell Thorne. He is the prisoner Cinder escapes with. He might remind me just a bit of a certain pirate.
He’s very cocky and sarcastic and maybe a bit more heroic than he wants to let on. Carswell and Iko are definitely the two comic relief characters and, as such, they both have a special place in my heart. I thought for a moment a love triangle would be set up between him and Cinder and Kai, but Meyer steers clear of that, thank goodness.
Then we have Scarlet and Wolf. I was unsure of both characters initially, but they grow on your. Scarlet is so feisty and determined to save her grandma that you cannot help but root for here. Even if you know her cause isn’t going to go how she plans, you want her to succeed. Wolf was harder to pin down. It’s pretty clear that he is hiding something and I was hoping my gut was wrong on that that was. It wasn’t, but things still turn out well enough for them.
In this adventurous installment of The Lunar Chronicles, we get everything we feel in love with in Cinder plus much more. I was more than a little irritated when I learned that Scarlet would be told via a new perspective. Can’t we just stay with Cinder? WHY CAN’T WE JUST STAY WITH CINDER? And I’ll admit that for first 100 pages or so, I was happier when the focus shifted back to Cinder, but Scarlet’s journey was just as interesting. Meyer gives us what we didn’t know we needed, a fuller, more rounded story that I couldn’t help but love as much as the first one.
It took me a while to get through this. I
forced encouraged my husband to listen with me as I revived my memory of what happened in Cinder. He quickly become addicted and wouldn’t let me listen to any of Cinder without his presence. The instant it was over, he demanded we start Scarlet. My normal plan of listening my way through my audiobooks during my lunch hour and occasionally at breakfast went out the window quickly. Every time we were in a car for more than 10 minutes, it was Scarlet. We made excuses to run extra errands or take unnecessary trips just to get a few more minutes of the story. It is as addictive as Cinder was, if not more so, and I cannot wait to get started on Cress!
Rebecca Soler does a pretty awesome job of narrating this. Though her name sounds familiar, I don’t think I’ve listened to her work before. She does a wonderful job of creating new voices for each characters, even giving Scarlet the proper French accent she should have. Sometimes the male characters can get confusing, but Rebecca does a good job of cluing us in on who is speaking. I only had one issue with her. She says the name Nancy weird. It almost feels like she has a natural southern accent and it shines through on that one word, despite her efforts. Every time she said the name, I couldn’t help but snicker.