Saturday, September 14, 2013

(Audio) Book Review: Scarlet

Back in the summer, around late June early July I believe, Marissa Meyer was hosting a contest where the winner got an audiobook copy of her latest book, Scarlet, and while I'm generally not that interested in audiobooks it sounded like she really liked how this one had turned out so I tried the sample clip and wow, I really did like it! I didn't win the contest but then I remembered, there are a number of podcasts/youtube channels I follow which are sponsored by Audible so if I was to say, take advantage of their free one month subscription and listen to the book within a month (and I had two big family trips coming up within that month) I could do that and support other things I loved, perfect! Plus, most of the time when authors have a book out they'll link to reviews of it, that's fairly normal. This book came out this past winter so I wasn't surprised to see that many reviews of it, what was worrying me was that Meyer was also linking to a lot of reviews of the ARC for her next book, Cress, which isn't due out until next winter and I was starting to get seriously worried that I'd be spoiled for Scarlet and/or Cress at this rate. So that was a bit motivator, and I have to admit this is actually the first time in all my years of media consumption that I've been worried about that, even when almost all the anime I follow is a week behind and I'm dodging spoilers daily as a result.

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer and narrated by Rebeca Soler

Summary: Scarlet has been raised by her grandmother on her farm for most of her life so she's quite distressed when she suddenly vanishes, and utterly frustrated with the police when they say that they can't find any evidence of foul play. She's determined to find out what happened but could never have imagined the kinds of secrets her grandmother was holding. Meanwhile, a certain lunar princess is breaking out of jail cells and dragging other criminals around with her in stolen spaceships, trying to find out answers to her secrets as well.

The Good: Hmm, well, this time around the little prologue that Meyer released wasn't as critical to the plot as I felt like the one for Cinder was, but on the other hand is a bit spoilerly (so perhaps it shouldn't be considered a prologue but an additional side story? But if you read it after the book there's not much point, everything in there has already been revealed). Honestly I can't say if I preferred this book or Cinder since they both had weaknesses but they were different ones, here I felt like the twists weren't as dragged out (especially if you disregard that other story) but didn't like Scarlet as a character as much. I did like the additional world-building in this book and was surprised yet happy to see that Kai was as important a character as he was, it's funny but adding that plot thread made the book seem tighter and made it a lot easier to keep the overall story focused. However, it does reinforce the fact that a lot of events will need to happen in the next two books in very short order and I'm worried not about the pacing of the individual books but about how far I can suspend my disbelief that world-shattering events all keep happening within about two months of each other.

The Bad: As mentioned above, the side story this time around presents a bit of a problem since it could be spoilerly, the story this time around plays around with "oh is it this thing or is the twist really this!" a lot more (both for Wolf and Cinder) which is good but depending on how you interpret it at first you could already know all the major reveals before you even start reading. I didn't like Scarlet a lot in some cases, she's a bit of a hot head and headstrong and wish that Wolf had been a better foil to her, hopefully that will happen in the later books now.

The Audio: Like I said, I got this because the preview clip really did sound nice and I liked how Soler was able to manipulate her voice enough to make all the character's sound distinct and easy to tell apart. It was a bit odd to hear what voices she used for some of the characters that had first appeared in Cinder (ie, not the voices I was expecting) but I got used to them fairly quickly and one or two of them, like Iko, seemed like a much better fit than the voice I had previously had. And thankfully this book is much shorter than Shadows of the Moon, I had at first been worried about trying to finish a whole book in a month but it's only a bit over 11 hours so it was much easier to manage, although it was frustrating that while on my ipod I can go to individual chapters to listen to I couldn't manage that on itunes on my computer, which is less the books fault and more a problem I have with Audible itself. 

So, for this book I'm going to give it a 3 out of 5 for having different problems than Cinder but being strong in other ways as well. That said, I feel like I'm still not enjoying the series as much as I should, it's setting itself up as this sweeping, sci-fi almost fantasy story with a large cast and politics yet something is just missing to make me love it, I'm just hoping that Cress (or Winter, the last protagonist, whom I'm trying to remember if we've already met) will be more up my alley and let me really enjoy the series).

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