Red Hoodies, Grandmothers and Droids: Scarlet & Cress Book Review

Hi everyone, and welcome back to another book review! For today I am presenting to you a sort of a book review mash-up, a combination of two books bundled into one review. These two books are Scarlet and Cress by Marissa Meyer, the second and third book of the Lunar Chronicles. I read Cinder last year and marathoned the rest of the series from January to February, and here are my thoughts on them. Another review of Winter will (hopefully) be coming up in the future as well. Warning for spoilers if you haven’t read the first three books of the series!

cover1Let’s start off with Scarlet. The story continues where Cinder left off, but now we have a new addition to the team, Scarlet Benoit, a girl who is trying to find her grandmother. Her location is in France, which is kind of less interesting than New Beijing, but Scarlet is such a badass, and she would do anything to be able to track down whoever kidnapped her grandmother.

I love Scarlet. I like her more than Cinder in a way that I can’t really put my finger to. She’s quite interesting and I just really like her love for her grandmother and how passionate she is in finding her. The story starts off really great, we have Scarlet’s introduction, not to mention Wolf another new character, and we also have Cinder’s plotline, where she meets Thorne and tries to figure out what to do.

Cinder and Thorne’s storyline for me was a little meh. I really preferred Scarlet’s chapters compared to Cinder’s. Although I still really like Cinder, by the middle of the book I was super engrossed in Scarlet’s journey and meh towards Cinder’s. I wasn’t attracted to Thorne at all. I felt like he was a terribly done character, he had so many popular character tropes – the handsome and charming playboy, always trying to pick up a girl, acting like he’s better than he really is. There is no real depth in him in this book.

Title: Scarlet
Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Date Published: 2013
Num of Pages: 332
Date Read: 10th January, 2015
Goodreads Link

In the meantime, Scarlet’s story was quite interesting. I really liked her story, and her relationship with Wolf was fun to read, up till the kiss scene. Now don’t get me wrong, I think the two of them are adorable. They are the only two people I ship in the series. But this is just yet another case of young adult instalove. They’ve only met each other for what, a day? Two maybe? And they’re already kissing and being in love and shit like that? Unbelievable. I still think they are cute, but if they hadn’t kissed, if they had just you know, looked at each other lovingly with a lot of sexual tension, if the kiss had happened later in the book or maybe even later in the series, I would’ve been so in love with them. It felt too forced.

But as a character himself, I thought Wolf was yet another one of those trope-y characters. The quiet, brooding type who is strong and intimidating but has a deep dark past and once you get to peel his outer layers, you’ll fall in love with him and blah blah blah. He’s a charming guy, believe me, but he’s not that good of a character.

quote2Amusement touched the corner of his lips. “Animals love me.”
“Oh, I’m sure they do,” Scarlet said, beaming with fake encouragement. She shut the door before muttering, “What farm animals don’t love a wolf?”

Other than those two main plotlines, I really liked the chapters that had Kai’s point of view as well. I thought he showed a great part of the story from another part of the world, and he was a very rational and human character. I liked his struggles to rule the empire, and his thoughts about his feelings for Cinder but also prioritizing his kingdom. It was really fun to read. All in all, I found Scarlet a really solid novel with great plots and twists, and some great characters. But it wasn’t amazing at all. If I hadn’t liked Scarlet or Kai that much, I would probably rate it a 3.5

4 stars

Moving on to Cress, the third book of the series. I found Cress as a character to be less interesting compared to Scarlet. She’s the newest addition to the gang, and she’s probably not the youngest but acts like a child in my eyes. She’s so naive, which kind of makes sense because she has been trapped in this room for most of her life, but her attitude is just icky to me. The way she imagines weird scenarios and how she idolizes and stalks Thorne is just plain weird for me. She reminds me a lot of rapunzel in Disney’s Tangled, but that rapunzel was way more fun and a more dimensional character than Cress. Which is part of why I didn’t like this third book as much as the second one.

cover2The plot was alright for me. It has a lot of twists and turns and again, like the previous two novels, there is never a moment where it is peaceful or relaxed. There is always something going on, always something bad happening, which is fine because this is a young adult novel, and I know a lot of people who like this kind of books, but for me they just felt a little too orchestrated. Like when they were separated and Cress and Thorne was in that desert and then magically, coincidentally, they met people who took them to the same place where Cinder and the others landed. Like, it felt too easy and too planned, it made the whole gang being separated became totally unnecessary. But I do like the whole suspense and action-packed story. I like the little twists with Dr Erland and Cress, and the little plot twist at the end when we thought the gang would be able to escape the kidnapping.

Cress was an okay book for me. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it. Not as good as Scarlet, which was mostly because I didn’t like Cress and also because there wasn’t enough Scarlet in it. Plus Wolf was just a dormant and weird piece of chess in this story, there wasn’t any character development from him – in fact I think he has downgraded into a useless, unpredictable character just because he lost his “alpha” (was it his alpha? Or was it beta? I don’t know, I don’t speak wolf). But there were parts that I really enjoyed. I liked Cinder’s relationship with Thorne. Thorne sort of developed ever since he was blinded. I quite liked him more here. And I really liked Cinder and her role as sort of the leader for the whole gang in this book, how she had grown more mature and I think she was the one with the most character development in the series.

Title: Cress
Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Date Published: 2014
Num of Pages: 412
Date Read: 24th January, 2015
Goodreads Link

The last parts of the book was intense and I think that was my favourite part of the book. I like the whole sabotaging kidnapping strategy with the little conflicts, and how Cinder met Kai. It could’ve been executed better in my opinion – I sort of hoped it would be as epic as the scene in the third book of Artemis Fowl where he broke into a house and all that. But like I mentioned before, this is a young adult story, it has a mediocre writing style for me (I thought it could be a better written story if it was written by someone else). The characters of the whole gang was flat and one dimensional for me, if the characters had been more dynamic like the gang from Avatar (The Last Airbender), or The Raven Boys, I’d probably love them more.

Another thing that bothered me was the romance. I hated the fact that each of the main characters (the girls) were “paired off” to a “cute” guy to make them more “complete”. I agree what Kristina said in her review of Cress, about how it was really unnecessary. None of the romances I ship too deeply and they were all so predictable.

But all in all, I rated Cress 3.5 stars. It was all right, fast-paced, fun to read. And I do want to read Winter, just to see how it all solves out. I want to know why so many people are raving about it, saying how mindblowing and exciting the series is, especially how the series ended so well with the last book. So far I don’t see why so many people would rate the first three books with five stars. I think the series so far is great, but not good enough for me to actually recommend to people. We’ll see.

3.5 stars

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