So I finished Scarlet during my first Creative Writing Masters’ Residency a few weeks ago, which may be part of the reason this book got 2.5 stars.
True, I was having a hard time swallowing Wolf and Scarlet’s interactions before I went to the program, but after 9 days of intense seminars on nothing but writing and the craft of writing, my disappointment in these two characters solidified.
But because I loved Cinder so much, and feel really terrible giving this book 2.5 stars, let’s first talk about what I loved. Cinder continues to be a fantastically badass wonder, and we pick up a new fun-loving character, Thorne, who is a convict with personality and the two go off and have wonderful adventures in his stolen space craft.
I also enjoyed seeing Kai struggling to be the emperor and the set ups Meyer begins in order to propel the story into the third installment were some great world builidng….but now we have to talk about the problems…..
Scarlet is introduced as rough and temperamental with a take-care-of-herself attitude, which in the first chapter or two were fine characterizations and believable based on her back story. But Meyer falls into serious cliché when Scarlet is introduced to Wolfe and she immediately hates him. Since we’re all well-read here, we know that instantaneous hate by a strong female character means they will end up together in the end.
And boy do they, and I wouldn’t have a problem with that if Meyer had done what she did in Cinder where the prince and the lowly cyborg build a relationship that makes sense for their stations in life and their character traits.
But Wolfe just keeps saying Scarlet is ‘different’, she’s ‘special’ and there’s something about her that keeps him coming back and makes him want to be a better person. But there’s nothing written on the page that sets Scarlet apart in this book. She’s temperamental and capable of some pretty serious endurance, but aside from wanting very badly to find her lost grandmother, and traveling to Paris with a stranger to find her, nothing Scarlet is or does is extraordinary.
Wolfe is really the extraordinary character, with canine enhancements, quick reflexes, and a mysterious past as a fighter, he’s much more than he lets on, but his Twilight-esque obsession with Scarlet comes off as forced and unrealistic.
Now, if Meyer’s first book had similar issues, I wouldn’t be giving this book 2.5 stars, but she proves in Cinder that she is far better than hallow clichés and cipher characters, and she continues to prove that anytime anyone not named Wolfe or Scarlet appear on the page.
Perhaps she felt fenced in by the Red Riding hood fairytale, or perhaps she just didn’t like Scarlet but needed her to get us to Wolfe, I don’t know. All I know is that suspending my disbelief for these characters’ relationships became basically impossible by the end of the story, and as I’ve moved on to Cress (book 3) I’m trying real hard not to skim right over Scarlet and Wolfe as the story continues.