This is the second addition to the series, disregarding the little side stories. When I started reading I was worried that we wouldn't see anything of Cinder, but my fears were quickly silenced. While the majority of the story does focus on Scarlet, Cinder is still a part of it.
This story is different from Cinder. The previous book was a lot slower, and focused on the plague. It also had a lot more of Kai. While the Emperor is still occasionally there, his part is minuscule. However, it's still good.
The story focuses on Scarlet, and just like her original version, Little Red Riding Hood, she's searching for her grandmother. While the wolf is originally the symbol for a sexual predator, Wolf is more of an actual wolf, but sexual attraction still plays a part. The story is very fast-paced. It sweeps you along, making you keep reading. Thinking back, the whole thing takes place in about three days. Cinder is also looking for the grandmother, but she is no longer alone. She got a new friend.
Scarlet is not the scared little girl in the fairy tale. She has guts, and is determined to go after her grandmother, even though people try to deter her. I took an instant liking to her.
Wolf is an interesting character. I suggest reading The Queen's Army first, because it does give a lot of insight into Wolf. He is an interesting character, and his animal nature is fascinating to me. However, I always loved wolves. That part did make me think of A Game of Thrones. I do want to see more of him though, because he also makes the air sizzle with his animal instincts.
Cinder is more on the side lines this time. Though I was glad for her response to the revelation at the end of the previous book. In a way that part reminded me of Japanese anime, which the author does like. Usually the characters in those deal with such monumental revelations about themselves this way.
Carswell Thorne is Cinder's new friend, and she needed a man like that. Cinder is a nice person, and she is very disturbed by her abilities, but Thorne gives her the outside perspective that she needs. He is also the sort of rugged rascal we women tend to go for in our weak moments, and he knows it. However, deep down, he's a good person. He is a walking cliché, but he fills a needed hole.
This story also has romance. It is kept to a minimum, maybe a bit too much. The attraction is that sudden YA romance thing, but thankfully the fluff is kept to a minimum. I can deal with it. Though I had to admit, at the end it was getting a bit too sugary cute.
Overall, it's a fun book of action. It is different enough from the previous book to not feel like a copy of that like some bad series sometimes do. No surprises really, but it's not the kind of book that you expect to win literary awards. I still recommend it to people who like good action, light sci-fi, and re-interpretations of fairy tales.