It does say something about a book when you can criticize it so harshly(like I'm about to) and still give it four stars.I think the foremost problem that has discouraged readers when it comes to this series is the flaky world-building. It's dysfunctional, rootless and plain superficial. It develops in this second installment but not by a great degree. Usually, by the second book in a trilogy or a quartet, you receive a whole lot of info dump, which is not always a nice thing but it's something. There is no such thing in [b:Scarlet|12296|The Scarlet Letter|Nathaniel Hawthorne|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327879100s/12296.jpg|4925227]. There is a mention of the Third World War and a scene showcasing its ramification on Paris's infrastructure. Beyond that, I have no idea how this world came to be. Who instigated the war? How did the Eastern Commonwealth come to be the supreme power, and in that China and monarchy? I would have expected Russia or Japan. Why are the Lunars always at war with the Earthens? How did the pioneers on moon survive?Then the issue with Cinder. She is half-robot but what makes her half-human? This topic could have been explored more deeply. Why is it the default response of mostly every person to hate cyborgs? It simply can't be because they are 'disgusting' with all the wires and mechanics. Surely not in a world so into the future. If it were so, the procedure would have been banned long ago. Kai. He is an interesting character and I like him a great deal. But he really is not king material.And the cultural infusion. I was not at the receiving end of any exoctiness, either from China or France. The only eastern influence seemed to be incorporated in one scene, when Kai is in his office. He is gazing at these Chinese murals when two women in kimono pay him a visit. And France? No cheese or wine. Only farms and your basic countryside, which didn't fully cooperate with the futuristic setting.There is this line where she uses farmhands and androids in the same sentence. That, right there, is a bold undertaking. One that fails. My general impression of France was that it was still stuck in the olden(present) days with a few spaceships dumped in the middle. And it boggled me why Scarlet was still using the old cartridge-and-gun-powder weaponry. What happened to laser beams and supersonics and radiations?While Cinder's beginning reminded me of [b:Shipbreakers], this one gave me the impression of [b:The Windup Girl|6597651|The Windup Girl|Paolo Bacigalupi|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1278940608s/6597651.jpg|6791425]. I can't say much because I have yet to read those two beyond the first chapter but I just wanted to put it in. Coincidence? Maybe. Probably.So much potential for a book that makes you think. All crushed to bits and pieces.But then you join them all back with glue and you know what you get?An engaging read that leaves you hyperventilating and begging for the next installment.I love fairy-tales, but more than that fairytale retellings. Give me one any day and I will slurp it down no matter how bad it tastes. Not that I'm saying this one tasted bad. [a:Marissa Meyer|4684322|Marissa Meyer|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1357318852p2/4684322.jpg]'s twists are one of the things that captivate me. She never deviates far form the origin but gives them her own flavor. This factor is only seconded by my affection for the array of characters that she introduces.There are many POV's in this installment but they never clash. Wolf, Cinder, Scarlet, Kai, Thorne. They are all distinct personalities. And this is a very character-driven novel, so if you can't get into them, you probably won't enjoy it. I'm scared to thinnk how she will manage [b:Cress|523468|Cress Delahanty|Jessamyn West|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1354209859s/523468.jpg|750686] and later on, [b:Winter|6668467|Winter Garden|Kristin Hannah|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1265932201s/6668467.jpg|6863383]. I'm keeping my fingers crossed, just in case.The romance between Wolf and Scarlet seemed like a substitute for the one budding between Cinder and Kai in the first book, but it's one of the only one-day romances that I genuinely believe and it never overrides their personalities or priorities.That is supposed to be a gun in the girl's hand. :/Ugh. This seems disgusting now because that guy was her uncle in the anime.Ugh!Looking at this review, it doesn't seem like the book deserves four stars from an objective view. But what the heck! I loved it and the cons out weighed the pros for me and I don't feel like it warrants and average rating.This review can also be found on my blog.