This is Meyer’s second fairy tale/sci-fi/dystopian romance series.
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer. Lunar Chronicles Book 2.
Cinder left our heroine, Cinder, in jail, exposed as a Lunar and a cyborg, and newly imparted with the knowledge that she is the missing Lunar Princess Celine, which means that the Lunar Queen Levana wants to kill her. She is also quite sure that handsome Prince Kai, her only friend after her stepsister Peony’s death, now despises her and will probably disregard the advice about Queen Levana’s plans that she risked her life to give him. Naturally, then, as the second book opens, Cinder is nowhere in sight. Instead, the story opens in the European Commonwealth with a new heroine, Scarlet. She runs a farm outside of rural Rieux, France, with her grandmother – except that Grandmother has now been missing for several days. The police are about to give up the search, convinced that the ripped-out ID chip on the table means that Grandmother ran away of her own volition. But Scarlet knows Grandmére would never leave her. When her estranged father appears, tearing through the house and raving about having been tortured to try to get his mother to confess, she knows she’s got to do something herself. But the only person who’s willing to help is a street fighter named Wolf, whose arm has a number tattooed on it, just like the number her father described tattooed on the arm of his torturer.
Meanwhile, Cinder acquires a sidekick with a somewhat functional ship, in the form of handsome and vain American criminal Carswell Thorne. Her robot Iko’s personality chip gets installed in the ship, and suddenly (while both Cinder and Iko miss the old Iko), Cinder has a ship with a dear and familiar personality. Instead of following her instructions to go to Africa to meet Dr. Erlund from the last book, she decides that she needs to find out more about where she came from and how she ended up a cyborg, a path that will lead her straight to Scarlet’s Grandmother in Rieux. Queen Levana’s horrible and somewhat unbelievable plan to take over the earth is further revealed, and Cinder ponders the ethics of the Lunar gift.
The whole story feels kicked up a notch from the last one. There are lots of chases, narrow escapes and Exciting Happenings. Scarlet and Wolf have a sweet romance going on, with the strong-willed and self-assured Scarlet taking the lead. Prince Kai is sadly mostly absent. I’m still not sure that the author or Cinder has quite figured out this Lunar gift thing – is there really an ethical way to use it? Queen Levana is also so very evil that it’s hard to believe that her own people, even controlled by her Lunar powers, would ever put up with her. But this didn’t stop me from caring very much about the main characters, and devouring this lengthy book in just a few days over my work breaks.