I finally did it: I finished The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer! I debated how I was going to review the rest of the series because I reviewed Cinder at the beginning of this blog (Sept/Oct). After reading Scarlet, Cress, Fairest, and Winter, I feel ready to write a review of the entire series. I will say that I haven’t read most of the other stories or comics that are included in the timeline of this series, but I am working on reading Stars Above currently (as of June 10th, 2021).
So, I took the advice of Goodreads and other sources for the reading order and made sure that I read the novella Fairest in between Cress (Book 3) and Winter (Book 4). I highly advise that. It enriched my experience of the fourth book while not spoiling anything for the first three books.
This is going to be as spoiler-free as possible, but I want to say that you might consider some things I say spoilers. If you are planning on reading this series and don’t want to know anything about any of the books, stop reading here! You can head on down to my review on Cinder (Book 1) to find out why you should start the series. Alright, hopefully, you’ve turned away if you want to avoid spoilers.
I will sing the praises of this series forever. I realize I’m late in reading them, but I loved them and I want other people to read them too! It took me a fair amount of time to get through this series—I started Cinder the week after I got laid off for the pandemic in March 2020—and although I plan to read it again to see the story unfold without breaks; I don’t believe that the breaks I took between reading the books changed how impactful and intimately woven this story is.
So that I spoil nothing about the plot or character development, I’ll talk mostly about how the four fairy tales fit into this sci-fi world, those being Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White.
Linh Cinder is our Cinderella character, whose life imitates the fairy tale in key ways. She has a stepfather/father figure who has passed away, leaving her to be kept as a servant for her stepmother and two stepsisters. The climax takes place at a ball, though I won’t say anything else about that, and Cinder finds herself in the company of a certain prince more than once throughout her story.
Scarlet lives with her grandmother, as do most Little Red Riding Hood characters, in a small rural town in the European Federation. She encounters a wolf and always wears a red sweater that means more to her the further she gets from home and her grandmother.
The Rapunzel character is Cress, a small girl who struggles once removed from her “tower”. The best hacker in the known universe, she is instrumental in the plot.
Finally, we have Princess Winter. She embodies Snow White, though she’s madder. And by mad, I mean crazy. Her beauty is second to none, though Queen Levana of Lunar would have my head for saying so. After her mother (the previous Queen) and father both die, her aunt, Queen Levana, raises her. As with all Snow White stories, the theme of jealousy runs deeply in this one.
Marissa Meyer seamlessly translated all these fairy tales into a science-fiction world where technology has advanced, Cinder became a cyborg as a young girl to save her life, and a young girl locked in a “tower” has become a phenomenal hacker. I have read many fairy tale retellings after taking the Fairy Tale Literature course during university, and none of them have struck me as perfectly as these did. Though I had long breaks in between the books, each one I picked up disappeared in one sitting. I read each one in a day. There isn’t another series that I can say that about, and I believe that is because Meyer wrote these books with great care and great use of tension. Using jargon regarding their technology didn’t trip me up—I could recognize their “portscreens” as our tablets, though with an increase in technology. I pictured them looking like the tablets used in Star Trek (2012) and the sequels.
Overall, I loved The Lunar Chronicles. I hope that this post has convinced you to try them out without spoiling anything. I’m pretty sure you can get most of this information from the backs of the books or the descriptions on Goodreads. Thank you so much for tuning in and reading my review of The Lunar Chronicles! I highly recommend picking them up and giving them a go—they’ll be worth it.
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