As we’re about at the end of February, I thought I should review a book series I’m currently obsessed with–I mean, that fits the theme of love that is usually associated with February. And it doesn’t get any more romantic than a fairy tale retelling!
I forget exactly how I found out about The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. I think I was stumbling around Amazon and it was a recommendation. It had been highly rated and it was a fairy tale retelling (which are among some of my favorite stories to read), so I added it to my list. I wound up getting it for Christmas or my birthday or something and I finally started reading the series last year. By the time I finished it, I wondered why I waited so long to read it.
So, the series is a quartet: Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter. There is also a standalone book of short stories titled Stars Above and another one titled Fairest that is about the series villain, Levana. Marissa Meyer has also created a two-part graphic novel titled Wires and Nerves. The point is that she has really expanded this universe. You get to see background stories, stories about secondary and tertiary characters, and even a glimpse of what comes after the series ends. You will have material to enjoy beyond just the series if you decide to start reading this.
Now, about the actual series itself. Cinderella is, maybe obviously, the character Cinder. She’s a mechanic in the city of New Beijing, formed following the Fourth World War. Yup. She’s a 16 year old mechanic that supports herself, her stepmother, and her two stepsisters. Cinder is also a cyborg.
Yup. A cyborg. And a mechanic. Cinderella. You don’t usually think about Cinderella being a strong character to associate with or having much of a personality, but Cinder certainly does. She has to deal with the struggle of being treated like property, like a thing that shouldn’t be alive. She has two friends: an android named Iko and her younger stepsister, Peony. Cinder is flawed and sarcastic and smart. I do think she comes across as a little entitled sometimes, but it’s not hard to see why.
Earth is dealing with the blue plague, also knows as letumosis. A cyborg draft has been enacted to fight it. One day, while Cinder is in her booth at the market, two things happen: Kai, the prince of the Eastern Commonwealth (China, Japan, the rest of Asia), comes to her to have an android fixed and, after he leaves her, a letumosis case breaks out in the market. From there, we continue with our story.
As we progress through the series, we meet Scarlet, a young woman who helps run her grandmother’s farm in France searching for her missing grandmother (yes, she has red hair and a red hoodie); Wolf, a mysterious street fighter; Carswell Thorne, a criminal who deserted the American Federation and stole a Rampion cargo ship; Cress, a hacker for Luna (more on that in a moment); Jacin, a guard on Luna; and Winter, the beautiful stepdaughter of the Queen of Luna.
Luna is the moon. Yup. The world was able to send colonists to the moon and those people evolved the ability to manipulate people’s bioelectricity, generating glamours–meaning that people will see what the manipulator wants them to see. Levana, the Queen of Luna, is desperately trying to become Empress of the Eastern Commonwealth, leading to a lot of political tension. Relations between Earth and Luna have been strained for the better part of a century. Levana is known on Earth as a tyrant and a murderer, suspected of having murdered her older sister, Channary, and her three year old niece, Selene, in order to sit on the throne.
Letumosis, missing people, strained political tensions, the search for Selene–this is a whirlwind series. It reads as if things happen over a long period of time, but much like a Disney movie, a lot of the events happen within a week or two. The original storyline of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood (and Beauty and the Beast if you squint), Rapunzel, and Snow White are easy to follow along with. Each time you pick up a different little detail related to the original stories (such as Iko the android being like the mice from the Disney animated Cinderella).
I think it’s a well-written series and will appeal to people wanting to read a series with strong female characters. If you read it or have read it, let me know what you think!
(Picture taken by me and includes my Kindle because I have eBooks of Cress and Winter.)