Marissa Meyer was one of the debut authors I read the year I was on the William C. Morris YA Debut Award (2013). Book One of her series, The Lunar Chronicles, was eligible and I read and enjoyed Cinder, particularly the original ways she twisted the familiar fairy tale; like Cinder having a missing foot (instead of a shoe). The larger picture of Meyer's Chronicles -- a very nasty Queen intent on conquering Earth from the Moon (and the fact that Cinder might be related to this Queen) -- wasn't as interesting to me, but I liked it enough to want to find out more. A considerable time later I managed to get to Scarlet.
(I am currently filled to the brim with these three [I include Meyer's third inspiration] tales as they all show up in Into the Woods, which I braved the Christmas Day crowds to see. Even though I have a loyalty to original versions -- be they plays or books -- I quite enjoyed this movie.)
So, Scarlet. Scarlet riffs on Little Red Riding Hood, and the Scarlet in this novel favors a red hoodie. She runs a small farm in the French countryside with her ... grandmother and comes home one day to find her missing. Searching for her, she meets a "professional" streetfighter who goes by ... Wolf who (ooh ... details a bit fuzzy) helps her escape the interest of some other fighters, who are looking for something of her grandmother's in the farmhouse. She's kind of a pill, though, and against everyone's advice she travels to Paris where she believes her grandmother to be.
Meanwhile, we find Cinder in a maximum security prison, which she manages to break out of accompanied by the wisecracking, Han-Solo-like Captain Thorne. Somehow (remember those details have gone blurry), she knows she needs to get to Paris for some answers ... perhaps from Scarlet's grandmother? Well, you know what happens then. They all fly off to find Rapunzel, obviously.
I didn't think this had the same originality in skewing the original tale as Cinder, and the whole story felt like a bridge to the next installment. There was a lot of to-ing and fro-ing, but not much came out leading to a big revelation or an aha moment (beyond the one we all but knew about Cinder). The characters weren't very interesting; Scarlet is a whiner, Wolf is a wounded hunk in need of the right woman, and the Captain's schtick just gets old fast. Cinder, though, I'm still invested in.
Rebecca Soler. I'd heard her read a Sarah Dessen book years ago and was pleasantly surprised at how authentic and teen-friendly she sounded. When I learned she was the voice of The Lunar Chronicles it seemed a good idea to listen to one installment. She keeps up the teen voice successfully here and gives the novel a brisk pace that maintains the interest in the lengthy story. The transitions between Scarlet's and Cinder's adventures are clear and seamless.
Soler tries to give some of the characters (including Scarlet) French accents and these all sound a little "ooh-la-la" to me and are wildly inconsistent. Some people have them, but not all the time. She does show some skill in computer voice, though. Cinder has a robot servant/friend, Iko, who is currently just a thumb drive. She installs Iko into the operating system of Captain Thorne's ship and chats with Cinder in a nicely mechanical voice.
There's some vaguely suspenseful (driving beat, ominous chords) music that begins and ends the audiobook. It's barely there, but it works as an intro.
The conclusion of The Lunar Chronicles is scheduled for publication in November, with Winter. I'm sure the author had "claimed" The Snow Queen long before Frozen-mania. The series has plenty of fans already and doesn't need a tie to that movie to be successful. There are some Frozen tweens who could segue right into this series -- plenty of clean romance and lots of strong women (although the author does have a slightly regrettable tendency to check the true-love box for each of her heroines). On to Cress for me (but shouldn't it be Tress?).
(Yikes! I've linked to not one but two Disney movies in this post!)
[This Big Bad Wolf (who isn't Red's nemesis, but The Three Little Pigs') was found at Gay Pride in Paris in 2011. The photo was taken by Marcus Povey and was retrieved from Wikimedia Commons.]
Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles, Book 2) by Marissa Meyer
Narrated by Rebecca Soler
Macmillan Audio, 2013. 11:19