Cinder was my favorite book of 2013. I loved the sci-fi world, loved the very original style of fairy tale retelling. I was beyond eager to read Scarlet, and the bar was set very high.
This book alternates focus alternates between Cinder and the newly introduced Scarlet. Scarlet's grandmother has been taken by a mysterious gang, who believe she knows something about the Princess Selene. Scarlet is determined to get her back, so when former gang member Wolf offers to lead her to them, she goes with him willingly. Meanwhile, Cinder must escape from prison with Thorne, a fellow convict who offers her a way out on his spaceship. She must decide where to go first--to Africa to find the doctor who provided her means of escape, or to find Scarlet's grandmother, who might have answers about the past Cinder can't remember.
What I liked about the first book, I continued to love about the second. The world building is brilliant, fun, and easy to immerse yourself in. It's the kind of science fiction that would appeal to readers that don't normally like science fiction. It's very accessible.
Cinder is an appealing character, with her intelligence, guts, and unusual skill set. In this book her Lunar powers start to grow in ways that even she doesn't fully understand. Thorne is a fun addition, sort of a wannabe bad boy with a great sense of humor. He and Cinder have great report, and they're entertaining, although I became nervous that the author would try to make him the third point in a love triangle. Please, God, no. But, as of now, that's not the case. Scarlet, meanwhile, is a farm girl with no remarkable talents to speak of. She's likeable, though, because of her determination to find her grandmother and her willingness to see Wolf's best side. I liked Wolf, a lot. He's less predictable than the other characters, in both personality and nature. I found myself very curious about what he actually is, as well as what his motivations were.
One of my disappointments with this book was how little time we spent with Emperor Kai. We mostly just experience his stress over ruling and dealing with Queen Levina, plus his conflicted feelings for Cinder. Not a lot in terms of insight or character development.
But the main issue with this story is the fact that the larger arc of the story does not progress as much as it could have. That's not to say that nothing happens, but...not as much as I would have though or liked. I got the impression that the big action was being saved for future books, and that this is just a bridge book. That's fine, I guess, I just wanted more--I'm greedy like that.
It's a very good, very entertaining book. It would never stand on it's own, and it raises more questions than it answers. However, I found it far above average in the page-turner category, and I highly recommend it. 4.5 stars.