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Haruki Murakami, Philip Gabriel
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Scarlet

Scarlet - CINDER went down in history as my favorite book of 2012. I received SCARLET thanks to the intrepid work of a friend soon after Comic Con, signed (to my friend Meagan, but close enough) and realized pretty quickly – I was afraid to read it. Flailing in my seat, chewing on my nails, sobbing in worry too afraid. You know it’s seriously when you stare at it for a few minutes debating whether or not you should read it every day for a few months. But eventually, I gave in and picked it up, still biting my nails in worry. I expected to be disappointed, but I was quite frankly thrilled when it turns out all my worrying was for naught. SCARLET was everything I hoped for and then some.MEET SCARLET – LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD IN THE FUTUREIf you haven’t noticed, the Lunar Chronicles series are retellings of fairy tales in a plague-addled future. In CINDER, we followed a young cyborg mechanic in New Beijing. In SCARLET, the narrative is split off – half the time, we follow CINDER as she makes her escape from New Beijing with the help of an escaped AWOL American soldier. The other half, we follow a new heroine with Scarlet, a girl in France making a living by helping her grandmother sell fruits and vegetables outside Toulouse until her grandmother is kidnapped.There is a small issue I had with the dueling narratives – there was a LOT going on for slightly less than 500 pages. Of course, the stories are intricately winded in, the actual novel taking place over the course of about three days. There was a LOT going on, and it just seemed that characters and depth fell victim to nonstop action and frenetic pacing.At the same time, I really loved the new characters – people like Captain Thorne, Scarlet, Scarlet’s grandmother. Pretty much all the characters minus Wolf. Wolf just wasn’t for me.INSTALOVE VERSUS THE FORESHADOWING HAMMERCINDER, you might remember if you read my review (here), I felt had some issues with blatant foreshadowing. In SCARLET, the foreshadowing problem has been corrected, but what we find instead once again is the dreaded instalove. And this time, it’s even more egregious than the less than two week romance of Cinder and Kai. The love between Scarlet and Wolf – from meeting to first kiss – takes about 24 hours. And within 48, there are declarations that basically equal to love.I mean, I can’t even tell my bed that I love it after 48 hours of sleeping with it, but I haven’t been a teenager in awhile. Ew, I’m getting old.EMOTION VERSUS CRITICALITYSCARLET, like CINDER, is a case of where I rate the book more with my heart than my head. Critically, this book probably only deserves a 3.5. There are some issues with plotting, with characterization, and with the writing. But where this book succeeds is through its heart. I can’t help but love the Lunar Cycle series, to the point where I am afraid that the hype will kill me in the end. I am worried for book three and four, with the way that book two turned out – at times a mish-mash of characters, plots, and ideas. But I cannot wait for what happens next.VERDICT: Unique, fascinating, and thrilling, SCARLET is a great sequel to a great book. I cannot wait to see what might happen next!