There’s a right way and a wrong way to do a love story in a YA novel. Twilight is the wrong way. Scarlet is the right way (and Cinder too, if we’re counting—that’s the first book in the series).
The relationships that develop between Marissa Meyer’s characters in this series are satisfyingly fraught and romantic, without being gimmicky or over-the-top. The initial attraction, the evolution of the characters’ feelings for one another, and the way each member of the “couple” (because no, they don’t always end up together—not yet, at least) independently struggles against forces that would pull their relationship apart are all presented in a very relatable, believable way. Not once are you left wanting to roll your eyes, let alone so hard that they straight up fall out of your face.
The futuristic Earth in which the story takes place is also fascinating, with a well-crafted history and mythology. The political system and technology—even the Lunar “magic”—seem plausible enough that it’s easy to imagine the world developing from our own current Earth (and interesting to consider what might have to happen for our Earth to get to that point). Little has thus far been revealed about the state of affairs on isolated, totalitarian Luna, which only enhances its mystery and menace. This may change with book three, Cress, which focuses on a native Lunar operative. A brief glimpse can also be found in “The Queen’s Army,” a short story on the history of Scarlet‘s Wolf. My copy of Scarlet included this story as supplemental material at the end, which was a nice surprise!
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #2
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Young Adult
In the second installment of the Lunar Chronicles series, sixteen-year-old Scarlet Benoit leaves the small town of Rieux, France, aided by the enigmatic street fighter Wolf, and heads to Paris in search of her grandmother, who disappeared under unusual circumstances some three weeks earlier. Meanwhile, in the Eastern Commonwealth, the cyborg girl Linh Cinder---who finds herself imprisoned and facing certain death, only days after learning she's not at all who she thought---breaks out of prison and vows to track down the one person she believes can help shed light on her past and her true identity: retired military pilot Michelle Benoit. Scarlet's grandmother.