First reaction: much better than book 1. Second reaction: a lot like book 1 really.
Scarlet is book 2 of the Lunar Chronicles series, and this installment is patterned supposedly on Little Red Riding Hood. The connection to Cinderella in Cinder was quite a bit more recognizable in terms of plot and character than the fairy tale connection is here. Maybe that’s why this one is a little better, especially in terms of character because ti doesn’t have to rely on the requirements of the original tale. Scarlet has a lot of the fairy tale elements, a girl with red hood(ie) with a grandmother who meets a wolf, but changes them. No woodcutter though, and no trip to grandma’s house, since Scarlet already lives there when the story opens. The wolf is also not exactly bad; in fact, he and Scarlet almost immediately develop this almost inexplicable connection to each other as they help each other out on what initially appear to be whims.
Scarlet and Wolf are pretty clearly the heroes here, and while Cinder shows up off and on throughout, her parallel plot isn’t nearly as detailed, or even that interesting. She’s picked up where the last book left off: trying to figure out how to get rid of her evil aunt Queen Levana and how to patch things up with Kai. It helps Cinder’s parts too that she’s given company: the “Captain” of a stolen spaceship named Thorne. Iko the android is resurrected as the ship’s main computer as an emergency-temporary repair, and she’s there mostly for comic relief. All together, this part of the story goes largely as expected: lots of near misses, a battle or two, and slowly Cinder puts together a plan.
Scarlet’s main mission is actually to find her grandmother who has mysteriously disappeared, and who Scarlet eventually discovers has an interesting connection to Cinder. This connection is of course what brings Cinder and Scarlet, and their respective companions together. Much like book 1, this installment concludes with something of a cliff-hanger, but at least now Cinder et al. have some direction. Also, much like book 1, we get a budding romance, this time between Scarlet and Wolf.
Now that we have some actual characters with personality to watch I’m much happier with this series. Hopefully, things continue.