Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She's trying to break out of prison--even though if she succeeds, she'll be the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive. Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit's grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn't know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother's whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

No spoilers ahead.

Perhaps all supernaturally-inclined book series should span four books from now on. Following the mindblowing spectacle that was The Dream Thieves, the second book in The Raven Cycle, and now Scarlet, the second book in The Lunar Chronicles, it might be safe to assume that with four-book series, the second book syndrome is quite absent. Then again, New Moon... never mind, scratch that.

For Scarlet, however, the point still stands. Where Cinder built up an intricate web of relationships and a world unlike few others in YA, this second book in the series improved upon the first in many ways - even in areas which seemed perfect enough as they were. It is one of the rare instances where the author chose not to "leave well enough alone", and wound up with a genuinely more impressive result. (The naysayers, meanwhile, are gaping in the background, questioning their philosophies. Turns out, what isn't broken can be fixed. Or at least polished.)

Red Riding Hood and the Big, Bad Wolf are here to save the day - or at the very least help Cinderella. In alternating chapters, the book follows Scarlet - a girl whose grandmother is missing, a continent away from where the last book left off - and Cinder, as she runs from the Lunar and the Earthen authorities alike. The two seemingly unconnected plotlines develop independently, as far apart in space as they are in substance. Until suddenly, they are one and the same. And this incredible skill of Marissa Meyers - the skill to weave so many different plotlines together in the end - is the crowning glory of this series as a whole.

Remember those peace treaties and missing princesses and faded pasts and stepfamilies all converging into a single, formidable conclusion? Scarlet is this, only more.

What Scarlet also is is an array of fresh, exciting characters. While I nurture a personal soft spot for bad boys and therefore couldn't help but to sympathize with Wolf, it is Captain Thorne who is deserving of a special paragraph. Captain Thorne, so eerily alike another Captain we all know and frequently allude to, only... sober and more stable on his own two feet. Also, in his case, it's space ships.

You know exactly who we mean.

Without going into any of the spoilery details, suffice it to say that Scarlet, Wolf, Captain Thorne (emphasis on Captain!) are a new book's dream cast - each strong, each independent even when dependent, and each very much their own person. And in the end, all blending seamlessly into the predominant plot arc and furthering it along in so, so many ways.

(Also, Kai being the man-damsel in a potential-arranged-marriage situation is a wonderful subversion of the common damsel trope, and I take my hat off to Marissa Meyer for it. This series is both concrete action and subtle diplomacy. And Kai is ever the diplomatic one, whereas Cinder drives the action-packed side of things. Hat's off, Marissa. The hat is off.)

Okay, I'll say it - why didn't I pick this up way sooner? If ever there was a series to endear a reader to science fiction, and the sci-fi genre to the reader, The Lunar Chronicles is it. Leave us a comment below or find us on social media and join in our general fangirly appreciation for the series. This ship could always use more crew.