Scarlet Benoit lives with her grandmother on the family farm. She helps tend the crops, and makes deliveries to the local businesses in Rieux, France. Three weeks ago, her grandmother disappeared without a trace. The local authorities have closed the missing person's investigation claiming there is no evidence of foul play, but Scarlet knows better. She knows her grandmother would never leave their farm without telling her and, even if she had, she would have contacted Scarlet by now. Scarlet is determined to find her grandmother, but little does she know that her search will involve the mysterious street fighter with whom her friend Emilie has been flirting for the past week; the crazy news reports about the Lunar cyborg who escaped from New Beijing's high security prison, and some secrets about her grandmother's past that she never knew.
In Scarlet, author Marissa Meyer has done to the fairy tale "Little Red Riding Hood" what she did to "Cinderella" in Cinder. She takes a familiar story and reinterprets it into a science fiction adventure. While Meyer remains true to the basic elements of this well-known story, she has placed them in the context of a fascinating, war-ravaged earth of the future, where, as with storybook elements, things may seem familiar, but may not be what you remember or expect. Cinder, the first book's title and eponymous protagonist, is back, along with most of the principal characters from the first book. In addition, Scarlet introduces some fascinating new characters who are sure to play integral parts in the continuing story.
While Scarlet and Cinder have their basis in familiar fairy tales, many traditional storybook conventions are subverted. In these stories, "the prince" does not always have the ability to overcome the obstacles placed before him, and none of the young women are "damsels in distress." Indeed, the young women presented in Meyer's books are well-realized and likeable characters with recognizable flaws and, more importantly, incredible strength and determination. They are easily as compelling as Katniss Everdeen, from The Hunger Games, or other recent female protagonists in YA fiction.