Review: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer vs. Little Red Riding Hood

This review is part of the Classic Double Challenge, hosted by One Librarian’s Book Reviews.

Classic Double Challenge 2012 One Librarian's Book Reviews

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer review at Reading With My Eyes Shut

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer is the second book in the Lunar Chronicles series, following Cinder. Since I used Cinder last year in the Classic Double Challenge, I thought it would be super fun to do it with the sequel this year.  But first, let’s do the real review:

Scarlet Benoit is a pretty great character.  She’s sassy, she’s strong, she’s a redhead (gingers rule!).  Whereas Cinder starts off with an unsure, shy character, who is still learning to come into her own in this book, Scarlet begins with a fierce heroine who doesn’t have the time or interest to come into anything.  She’s got a problem (the disappearance of her grandmother) and she has a single focus on fixing it.

The fun thing about this book is how Scarlet’s and Cinder’s stories were told side by side.  And at the beginning they seem separate, but as the plot moves you begin to see Meyer’s grand plan, and understand why these two characters are sharing this book.  As far as the plot goes, this is a bit of a “transition book.”  Some people call it “middle book syndrome.”  I felt like this book had a pretty good pace, and was even action packed.  However, as far as the arching plot of the series goes, it definitely moved in baby steps.  It was, at least, a fun enough read that this didn’t bother me a whole lot.

As far as the romance goes, Kai and Cinder are at a stalemate, and that is frustrating.  The romance between Scarlet and Wolf made up for it.  There is just something about the damaged, sensitive guy that gets me every time.

After you’ve read this book, I’d recommend the prequel chapter, The Queen’s Army.  It is not a prequel that is meant to be read before you’ve read the book.  Read it after for maximum enjoyment of both the book and the prequel chapter.

The third book in the series, Cress, comes out next year.  Rumor has it that it will take us down a Rapunzel-esque path, and I’m pretty excited about it.

I give it:

4 stacks

Now, for some Classic Double comparison:  I’ll start this off the same way I did the Cinder comparison last year, by reviewing a bit of the history of Little Red Riding Hood.  The first we see this story in writing is in France, and by Charles Perrault (famous for his Tales of Mother Goose, which included versions of Cinderella, Sleepy Beauty, and Puss in Boots).  This was an oral tale told to children long before then, generally to scare them into doing as they are told and “staying on the path.”  There is evidence of early versions of this story in Germany, France, Italy, and even parts of Asia.  The earliest written versions (both Perrault and Grimm, but more so with Grimm) were pretty dark, with both grandma and Little Red being swallowed by the wolf, and then saved by a huntsman who opens the wolf’s stomach with an axe.  In the Grimm’s version, there is a part two, which shows the lessoned learned.  In a second trip grandma’s house, Little Red avoids the wolf, makes it safely there, and then grandma and Little Red are able to defeat the wolf when he comes calling.  Over the years there have been lots of versions, some light and fluffy with no one being eaten, some even more dark.  The themes they carry range from “obey your parents” to exploring the budding sexuality of young women (in these the red cloak or hood have special meaning).  I thought that was interesting, since in Scarlet, Scarlet takes her first foray into romance. 

As far as what Meyer has done with the story, it really is quite a departure.  Not just because of the futuristic setting, but because Scarlet isn’t so much off to grandmother’s house, as she is leaving their shared home in search of her grandmother.  All of the identifying markers are there, though.  For one, Scarlet is never without her red hoodie.  Her grandmother is in danger, although not so much from one wolf, but from a pack wolves.  And whether or not the character name Wolf can be trusted?  And who exactly is the rescuer in the end?  Ah well, you’ll just have to read and see.

I will say this: the whole “what big hands you have” scene was rock solid awesome.

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