I never know to say in these things. I guess that says something about me. I read a lot, write stories, and like books. I like a good debate. Nothing else is to say. :-)
Once again, it is a new year, and once again, I begin my quest to catch up or finish all these YA fantasy series books or trilogies that I started years ago. It's never ending.
I always intend to read the next part right away, as soon as I get it. But I'm a slutty reader. I am easily seduced by the next pretty little thing. There is always another shiny book or series that I read about, or someone recommends and there I go off on a detour.
Then two years later...oh right book 3 in that series…
There are 4 series finales I need to finish. The Lunar Chronicles is one of them. Each book is a play on well-known fairytales. Cinder = Cinderella, etc. Pretty clever IMO. I don't remember when I read Cinder, it was probably 2 years ago, so of course I had to refresh my mind when I started Scarlet. It did not take too long for it all to come back, I remembered the basics, read my old review, and the second book started right where the first left off.
In book 2 we get introduced to Scarlet, who we find in the middle of a search for her grandmother who has gone missing. Her grandma is known to be eccentric so most people are not taking it seriously, and think she just ran off somewhere. But then Scarlet meets Wolf...I know..I know...the Red Riding Hood thing just hits you right in the head. Not subtle at all. Anyway, Wolf ends up leading her to her grandmother, and right into the thick of the action. It turns out Scarlet did not know her grandmother near as well as she thought, and her family was involved in the harboring of the missing Lunar princess: Cinder.
We also follow Cinder on her escape from prison and her life on run as the most Wanted Fugitive on Earth. On her way she picks up Captain Throne another fellow prisoner who just got lucky to be in the way and got dragged along for the adventure. I suppose he is supposed to be one of those lovable cad type guys. I say supposed, because he was one character that fell kind of flat for me (And that plays into the next book). He just seemed too forced and I never really...felt invested in him. Scarlett, while annoyingly stubborn to the point that I wanted to kick her, at least solicited some emotion from me. I don't have to like or agree with your characters, but they need to make me feel something. Scarlet I felt something, and as part of that, her feelings for Wolf and their growing relationship kept me interested (even if I still found it a bit forced). So by the end of the book, I at least bought that she would take him with her when they escaped and he had feelings for her (the depth of them demonstrated in book 3, I don’t really buy though).
Anyway...Wolf turned out to be more than just some random street fighter, and is involved in the Lunar plot to take over Earth. Through him we learn a lot about how far the Lunar Queen is willing to go to win, and how she in turn treats her subjects and the people she rules. Everyone is just a tool. They are not real to her, just pieces to move on the board and discard when she is done. The Queen is one of the most interesting characters. I am so looking forward to knowing more about what motivates her. Because all villains convince themselves they are the hero in the story. Why does she think she is the hero?
Book 2 ends with Scarlet and Cinder meeting up, and joining forces.
Book 3, like the previous, begins where the last one ends. But this time we are introduced to Cress. She is a Lunar Shell, someone without any abilities, who has been imprisoned on a satellite for 7 years working as the Queens hacker extraordinaire. She has not been exposed to many people, and lives through her computer games and simulations. She was taken as a baby and thrown aside as garage for being a shell, they are normally killed, so I gave her some leeway for being naive, and insecure. And boy was she. Thinking herself in love with Thorne just based on what she read in his files. Just making up a fantasy Throne based on her own projections. Going into cars of strangers and being kidnapped. No stranger danger at all. Being jealous and running off in a huff and causing all kind of problems that people don't need, because they are trying to save the world from an evil mind controlling Queen thank you very much! Save your insecure, low self-esteem drama for a time you are not running for your life miss! God she annoyed me. But...like I said...her actions made sense in the context of her story and upbringing. But Thorne, like I said, I already had issues with him. His relationship with Cress...especially the end....just seemed too thrown together. Like the writer wanted to tie everyone up into neat little couple packages. And Thorne who is a womanizing cad...falls for an innocent naive girl and mends his way. Ech. But to me...the story would have been more interesting if Thorne kept to his initial assessment of the situation: "You don’t love me. You are fixated on me because you have been locked up and isolated and lonely your entire life and I am the first available, handsome man that you meet, who was decent to you. Let’s be cool friends, but there will be no love connection." I think that would have been cool. Cress is brand new. She could use this to grow as a character. Learn self-reliance. Not everyone needs a relationship to be whole. I don't like that message.
Anyway...as for the plot. Cinder and her motley crew try to come up with a plan to not only save Emperor Kai from marrying the horrible Queen and save Earth, and save the Lunar people from her as well. The plan involves stopping a wedding, kidnapping the Emperor, and finding a way to get to Lunar, so Cinder can announce she is the missing Princess and rightful Queen of Lunar, and start a revolution. On the way there, they get broken and battered, trek through the desert and almost die, and fight the plague. It's all very action filled.
In conclusion to this long ramble: I liked that all the plot points dropped in book one are being picked up and expanded on or resolved. So everything is trying to together. I can say, I think Cinder, book 1, is still the better book. These two were nice additions, but the enjoyment is going down a notch each one. Still fun and readable. And the world building is great. That gets an A+...but the story is dragging a bit. This could have been done in 3 books. Wrap it up!