Lunar Chronicles Book Review

Author: Marissa Meyer (www.marissameyer.com)

Marissa Meyer is an American novelist from Tacoma, Washington. Cinder was her debut novel, which was released on January 3, 2012. She primarily writes within the genres of Young Adult, Science Fiction & Fantasy, and Literature & Fiction.

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction & Fantasy

Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress were all NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) novels. If you are unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, it encourages writers to draft a 50,000 word novel during November every year. I’m thinking about taking up the challenge this November. Check out their website for more information.

Quartet Series Titles: Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter

Read in… The Ugly Mug Cafe & Coffee Roasters while… procrastinating and avoiding my thesis.

Music I listened to while reading the series: Meet Joe Black soundtrack & Once Upon a Time soundtrack

Cinder

cinder-Marissa_Meyer

Title: Cinder (for Cinderella)

Publisher: Square Fish & Feiwel and Friends

Publication Date: 2012

Dedication: For my grandma, Samalee Jones, with more love than could ever fit into these pages.

Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WidePurchase your copy here.

Review: 4 out of 5 Dogwoods

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Summary (from the back cover): “Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl… Sixteen-year-old Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past and is reviled by her step-mother. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future. Because there is something unusual about Cinder, something that others would kill for.”

Set in New Beijing, Eastern Commonwealth, an East-meets-West fusion of modern day Asia, we are immediately introduced to our heroine, the cyborg mechanic Cinder. I loved diving into this world; it was definitely an interesting mashup of science fiction and fairy tales. Marissa Meyer attributes Joss Whedon’s Firefly as inspiration for this series on many levels, including the East-meets-West approach to the world-building.

Overall, I really enjoyed Cinder! This was a great first novel in a series. The setting was believable, keeping its readers tied to the Cinderella fairy tale, while also creating a world that was believable enough to keep me invested. The character development was strong as well. My favorite character was Iko – she is Cinder’s best friend and an android. (I found myself forgetting at times that Iko was an android and not human.)

Beyond the fascinating setting and the ties to Cinderella, I loved the political and ethical themes that ran throughout the novel (and the series). In Cinder, Marissa Meyer explores what it truly means to be human. As a cyborg, Cinder experiences discrimination and has fewer rights than her “fully-human” counterparts. Lunars (citizens from Luna, the moon) experience discrimination on Earth as well. I also loved the exploration of the laws and rules governing and mandating ID chips implanted in everyone’s bodies.

As a whole, this was a great read. I could not give it a full five crescent moons just because there was a disconnect between the main character’s age and her perceived age. Cinder is supposed to be sixteen in this novel, however, I never believed that; Cinder’s knowledge, demeanor, and character is well beyond that of a sixteen-year-old. I think this novel would have been stronger if it left the Young Adult genre, and the characters were written in their early to mid-twenties instead of teenagers.

Scarlet

Scarlet-Marissa_Meyer

Title: Scarlet (for Little Red Riding Hood)

Publisher: Square Fish & Feiwel and Friends

Publication Date: 2013

Dedication: For Mom and Dad, my best cheerleaders.

Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WidePurchase your copy here.

Review: 4 out of 5 Dogwoods

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Summary (from the back cover): “Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She is trying to break out of prison – even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive. Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information about her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.”

Scarlet is told with two separate plot threads – Cinder’s story and Scarlet’s story. Each chapter jumps from one character’s story-line to the other. Although this is a challenging way to present a novel, Marissa Meyer achieves it effortlessly and organically; I found both story-lines to be intriguing and suspenseful, while linked together in a way that kept me invested in both at the same time.

We get to see more of the world of The Lunar Chronicles in Scarlet. We leave the Eastern Commonwealth, head into space, and travel to France. I wish that France’s setting had been a little bit more well developed. At the end of Cinder, I had such a concrete grasp of the Eastern Commonwealth. In Scarlet, we are thrown into another country with less context and background information. Leaving out these details helped move the plot along faster, but it resulted in me feeling a little bit lost in the world at times, forgetting that the story was occurring in France and not the Eastern Commonwealth.

We are also introduced to my second-favorite character of this series: Captain Carswell Thorne. Thorne is as close to a Han Solo archetype as I have seen in literature thus far. He is quick-witted, cocky, and very much aware of his own charm. I loved Thorne!

Although this is a second work in a quartet, and thus subject to the middle-story slump that many series suffer from, Scarlet kept me invested and wanting more. The plot moved along quickly, with more secrets and background information on Cinder and the world divulged along the way. I thoroughly enjoyed Scarlet and could not wait to read Cress, the third book in The Lunar Chronicles.

Cress

Cress-Marissa_Meyer

Title: Cress (for Rapunzel)

Publisher: Square Fish & Feiwel and Friends

Publication Date: 2014

Dedication: For Jojo, Meghan, and Tamara *high fives*

Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WidePurchase your copy here.

Review: 4 out of 5 Dogwoods

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Summary (from the back cover): “Cress, having risked everything to warn Cinder of Queen Levana’s evil plan, has a slight problem. She’s been imprisoned on a satellite since childhood and has only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice. When a daring rescue of Cress involving Cinder, Captain Thorne, Scarlet, and Wolf goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.”

There are a lot of moving parts in Cress. We are introduced to new characters, new lands, and new conflicts. The book jumps around from different characters’ perspectives, different locations, and the plot line marches forward at a pretty fast pace. As a result, the book is entertaining and fast paced, but not as strong as Cinder or Scarlet.

Our heroes spend most of the story in outer space, but they also visit and spend some time in Africa. I found myself wishing for more detail and information about the African setting as I had in Scarlet with France. The backdrop of the series grows more tense as well; Earth and the moon (Luna) are on the verge of war, and many on Earth are dying of a highly contagious disease.

Overall, I enjoyed Cress and sped through it, but I felt as if it was the weakest book of the series thus far. It was a necessary component to moving the story along to its conclusion in Winter, but I did find myself trudging through it at times for the sake of getting to the final book in the series.

Winter

Winter-Marissa_Meye

Title: Winter (for Snow White)

Publisher: Feiwel and Friends

Publication Date: 2015

Dedication: For Jesse, who turns every day into a happily ever after.

Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WidePurchase your copy here.

Review: 4 out of 5 Dogwoods

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Summary (from the back cover): “Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana. Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend, the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long. Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters?”

Finally! We reach the end of The Lunar Chronicles, and it was everything I hoped it would be and more!

Our heroes unite in Winter to take on Queen Levana on Luna. With a more stable setting (almost the entire story takes place on Luna) and stronger/more developed characters, this book was rewarding and enchanting. Each character is strong as an individual, but as a unit and a team their relationships are a joy to explore and experience.

The end of the book and the end of the series is dramatic, climatic, and bloody. It is fantastic! I was thrilled to finish the book and the series, but I was also sad to leave these characters and their world behind. Although this is a young adult series, it is a great series for a reader of any age! I highly recommend Winter and The Lunar Chronicles for any fans of Fairy Tales, Science Fiction, or Fantasy.

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