Book Series: Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
Reviewers: Jeriann and Bethany
Age/Genre: YA Dystopian Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Preferred Reading Environment: In a bay window with a view of the full moon
Reading Accoutrements: Moon-pies! And Moonshine! Or Cheese, Gromit!
Content Notes: Murder; Abandonment; Racism; Cinderella-esque abuse/neglect; Violent, pustile illness
Tonight’s the full moon, so we decided we’re going to review the Lunar Chronicles, by Marissa Meyer!
Bethany: So…I do this thing where I wander around bookstores and pick up all of the books and then buy WAYYYY too many of the ones that I like. That’s how I came across Cinder, the first book in the Lunar Chronicles.
Jeriann: When Bethany told me about the dystopian cyborg cinderella book she was reading, I knew I’d have to read it next, and of course, as usual with series Bethany gets me started on, I knew immediately I had to read the rest.
Bethany: I have really good taste in book series, you guys.
Jeriann: Yes, of course she does (ignores the library full of Bethany’s Romance Novels that I will never read).
Cinder follows Linh Cinder, a teenage cyborg living in post WWIV New Beijing with her step mother and two step sisters and working as a mechanic in a marketplace booth. Cinder is an amalgamation of human and robotic parts that cause her to be shunned by New Beijing society.
Cinderella-style, Cinder meets Kai, New Beijing’s Prince charming, in the marketplace when he brings his beloved android, Nainsi, to her booth for repairs. He is stunned to realize that the master mechanic he was sent to by the royal mechanics – because they couldn’t fix it themselves – is a teenage girl, not the old man he expected. She is flattered by his compliments about her abilities and his fascination with her uniqueness, although she keeps him in the dark about her cyborg-y state for as long as possible.
Cinder not only has a sci-fi steampunk aesthetic, but it also includes a plot device that is not present in the typical Cinderella story: political intrigue.
Bethany: And also THE ALIENS!!!
Yes, Levana, Queen of Luna (the moon) has her evil eyes set on New Beijing, and subsequently, Earth. She visits earth on a “diplomatic” mission, trying to insert herself peacefully with the long-term goal of complete Earthen domination. Levana is said to be so beautiful that she has to wear a veil when on Earth so the puny humans don’t kill themselves over her. X_x
Part of Levana’s stated reason for visiting Earth is to help discover the cure to The Lunar Plague, which is devastating humanity. Lunars are apparently immune to this plague, so she is offering to share Lunar research …. but …. only if Kai marries her, creating a political alliance between Luna and Earth, leaving Levana within reach of ultimate power.
When Cinder’s sister falls ill with the plague, Cinder spends time with researchers at the palace trying to find a cure. This gives her an opportunity to get to know Kai and the two…surprise, surprise…fall in loooooooovvvveeeeeee.
Jeriann: General political intrigue and other excitement ensues.
Bethany: I loved reading this book. The world was insanely immersive and the characters, while occasionally irritating (I am seriously done with insecure teenage girls) are relatable and unique. Cinder’s brain interface allows her to fix stuff, which is awesome, if a little disappointing when she doesn’t have access to it and you realize how reliant she is on the tech in her body. But she even overcomes that!
Jeriann: This was a fun, exciting read, and at the end, I couldn’t wait to see more of Cinder and Kai! So I was really excited for the sequel …. Scarlet. Wait, who’s Scarlet?
Scarlet starts us off with completely new characters. But if you’re disappointed by the move from Cinder, that won’t last long. Scarlet is Meyer’s Little Red Riding Hood, and her wolf is a Lunar genetically-enhanced wolf-soldier, (aptly named Wolf). How bad-ass is that?
Scarlet’s grandmother, a former military pilot, has gone missing and Scarlet is desperate to find her. Meanwhile, Cinder joins forces with Carswell Thorne, a thief and a smuggler (and also a really good pilot). When it turns out that Scarlet’s grandmother and Cinder’s mysterious personal history are connected, Scarlet and Cinder team up to try to stop Queen Levana’s tyranny.
Scarlet is an independent French spit-fire who has helped her grandma on their farm since she was a kid, and doesn’t really stand for any nonsense from people. She is both intimidated by Wolf and attracted to him, and has a lot of internal struggles figuring out how and where to set boundaries.
Bethany: When I bought Scarlet, the employees at the bookstore warned me that someone had just returned a copy of the book. Apparently, halfway through, the book changed completely and the customer was pretty sure it was a printing error – another book’s end had been printed by mistake. What’s more likely is the customer had no idea they were buying the SECOND book of a series and Cinder’s sudden presence confused them. Read these books in order, people. It’s important. Speaking of order…the next book in the series is Cress.
In Cress, our titular character is a techy rapunzel, trapped in a satellite and forced to spy for Queen Levana. Cress has been on this satellite for most of her life, and has almost no experience to speak of in the realm of socialization. Perfect tech nerd. Cress is secretly working to sabotage Levana, but gets caught, and narrowly escapes with the help of Carswell Thorne, our daring outlaw pilot. Cinder’s crew is separated in the process, Cress ending up with Thorne on Earth, Scarlet and Wolf being imprisoned on Luna, and Cinder continuing her quest to help Kai deal with the political fallout of Levana’s meddlings. It’s really fun watching Cress, who has been incredibly sheltered all her life, experience new things and learn to make decisions for herself.
Jeriann: Can you guess what fairytale character is the star of Winter? That’s right, Elsa! Just kidding, it’s Snow White, of course.
We mentioned that Scarlet was imprisoned on Luna at the end of Cress. She is, in fact, trapped in a cage in a menagerie, basically a pet for Queen Levana’s stepdaughter (dun dun duuuunnnnn) Winter.
Winter has long been kept physically ill by Levana. She must work past years of abuse and emotional manipulation to figure out where she stands in the political atmosphere, and how to help set things right.
Jeriann: All four books do focus mainly on their titular characters, but Cinder really is the main character of the series. The plot that ties everything together centers around Cinder and her mysterious past. Despite the abrupt change in the second book, I felt that the multiple storylines were pretty well intertwined throughout the series.
Bethany: There were times when I wished we could get to another plot line and try to link things together at a faster pace, but Meyer did a great job of developing the story the right way…in other words, she wasn’t lazy like some authors we have complained about on this blog before…even if I felt the pace was a little slow in parts.
Jeriann: I really loved how even though the plot was Cinder-centric, the world around her was really fleshed out, and we see the historical building blocks for the turmoil that is currently affecting our protagonists.
If you’re like us, when you finish a series, you might feel a little bit of a pang inside. That’s it? It’s over? You want more! Well, you’re in luck, Meyer did not limit her Lunar Chronicles to just the four books. There is Fairest, a prequel that shows Levana’s origin story, and Stars Above, a short story collection featuring our favorite androids and fairytale-inspired characters.There is also a graphic novel series called Wires and Nerves that follows Iko, Cinder’s android, as the protagonist.
If you’re looking for a dystopian series with androids, cyborgs, and fairytales –
Bethany: AND ALIENS!!!
Then you should definitely check out the Lunar Chronicles series. It’s a fun, relatively quick read, great for both adults and teenagers. We loved it, and we’re sure you will too!
What’s your favorite mixed-genre read? Tell us in the comments, we need to buy more books!