I was surprised by the first installment in this series, with its intense, gritty post-apocalyptic universe, its rough-and-tumble heroine and visceral imagery. It stalled in places, but the momentum of the unique characters and well-spun universe kept it from being merely an oddity in its market. I was excited to see what the author would do with these characters and even more so to see that the release of the follow-up books would be so immediate.
"Scarlet" is another interesting foray into this universe, but it lacks a lot of the polish of its predecessor. Where "Red" took pains to make its main character, Gina, really own her tough-as-nails description, "Scarlet" sees Gina lose much of her spunk and danger in favor of a brave facade with more than one inner monologue about staving off tears over a separation as contrived as possible, particularly the catalyst and conversation that lead Gina's love interest, Morgan, to hoof it out of state for most of the book. Light on character development or direction, "Scarlet" left this reader a little disappointed as most of the book is spent plodding through six or seven characters' point of view on one setup after another, each as frustratingly transparent and poorly interpreted by the characters as the last.
While the selling points remain the same and "Scarlet" is worth reading for the change of pace it provides, as well as another visit to the characters the reader met in "Red," this second installment lacks the sense of purpose and the audacity of the first. Still, I haven't lost faith in this series and hope the third book, due out in the fall, makes good on all the promise the series holds.