Next up: “Cinder”, “Scarlet”, “Cress”, and “Winter” by Marissa Meyer
There is also a prequel (“Fairest”) and a short story anthology (“Stars Above”) in this ‘verse. I haven’t read them, yet, however.
These books are vague retellings of classical fairy tale, as one might guess from the titles. Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White. However, the world in which they take place and the actual plots are pretty different and ensure that, even if you might guess some small plot tricks, you won’t be able to predict exactly what will happen.
The world is an interesting futuristic place where the moon has been colonized and science has advanced enough that robots, cyborgs, and genetically modified humans exist. Still, there is an interesting thread of the fantastical in the series. The Lunars’ abilities aren’t quite explained via science (or, they aren’t satisfactorily explained for this scientist), and some countries have returned to monarchal governments. It’s a clever set-up that nods to the source fairy tales while adding a lot of fresh elements to those well-known stories.
The first book introduces us to the Cinderella character, Linh Cinder, a cyborg and talented mechanic. It is because of her mechanical abilities that she meets Kai, Prince of the Eastern Commonwealth, whose personal android is damaged and who, curiously, does not wish the royal family’s mechanics to work on the droid. But Cinder is hardly able to work on the Prince’s droid, as tragedy befalls her family and sets her on her own path, one that is shaped by the same influences that had sent Kai and his damaged android outside the palace in the first place. More intrigue, action, and revelations unfold as the series expands.
I really enjoyed this series. Though it is YA, it doesn’t fall into a lot of the pitfalls YA is so often riddled with. One of my pet-peeves with YA is when characters just run off and do really stupid stuff without thinking anything through, operating on pure emotion. But the characters in the Lunar Chronicles don’t really do that. Perhaps it is because of their world and who they are within that world, but they all seem to have pretty good heads on their shoulders. Even the character who is supposed to be very sheltered and naive manages to do basic consequence weighing. It is easily believable that they can accomplish what they are setting out to do because they actually think about it and make plans, rather than throwing themselves and their emotions into the chaos and everything magically working out. They have heart, but they also have brains.
I liked the assortment of characters; they were all very obviously their own people, and fully imagined. Racially they are pretty diverse, and they’re pretty evenly split between male and female, but there is a distinct lack of any nonbinary or other characters. That’s pretty much my only complaint against the series (only serious complaint; I still wish there had been more Wolf).
Each book introduces a new ‘main’ female lead, but the characters from the previous books continue to appear. I would say that there is a main main character: Cinder is pretty much the linchpin of the series, and the overarching story is generally about her, I would argue. While I did like Cinder, I actually think my favorite story was Scarlet’s… and Wolf’s. For a number of reasons, but I won’t get into that because it might turn spoiler-y.
The world of the Lunar Chronicles is really interesting. It was really pretty well imagined, though the Lunar abilities seemed a little over-powered; there didn’t seem to really be any significant checks against what they can do, aside from a tiny population of immune individuals and some inherent personal limitations on power. It was a little surprising they didn’t have more influence on Earth than they did. Especially considering some of the other plot threads weaving through the story. Meyer did a good job making everything just that little bit more complicated and interesting. There was a fair amount going on in the series, and that made it really hard to restrain myself when reading them. I read the first three books in one fell swoop, and waited impatiently for “Winter” to come out. I needed to know what happened! The same thing happened to a few of the people I recommended the series to: They devoured the four books in quick succession.
A very good series overall, definitely recommend.
There’s a little bit of cruelty and abuse (nonsexual) with some of the nastier Lunars, and between Cinder and her step-family.