Review: The Lunar Chronicles

Books by Marissa Meyer include:

Cinder (2012)

Scarlet (2013)

Cress (2014)

Winter (2015)

She also wrote Fairest which is in the same world and psuedo-prequel, but for this review I don’t think I’m going to add it.  I listened to all of these via Audiobook, so if I misspell something it’s because I heard it rather than read it.

Synopsis: Cinder is a cybor in New Beijing, practically a slave to her step mother and step sisters. When tragedy strikes, she finds herself in an ugly predicament which eventually unravels her own past in a set of Cinderella-inspired escapades. The first books’ revelations lead Cinder to strike out in a campaign against the queen of the moon, Levana.  Collecting friends in tales inspired by Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Sleeping Beauty: Scarlet, Cress & Princess Winter the step-daughter of Queen Levana.

Overall: I thoroughly enjoyed this series. The narrator did an excellent job with variations in accent and tone for the multitude of characters in the books. It does a fabulous job of re-envisioning the classic fairy tales in a futuristic/sci-fi setting.

World Building: This is always a big deal to me, and the first three books do a great job of building up the settings for each one: New Beijing, France, & North Africa. I didn’t feel that way about the fourth book. When she moved to the Luna setting I suddenly felt like I was muddling through the landscape. The walls were left blank. The architecture turned to legos instead of beautifully crafted buildings with variety and culture. ESPECIALLY culture. I noticed about 2/3 of the way through book four that I still had no idea what kind of culture existed on Luna. Not really. Glimpses. I could kind of fill it in with stereotypes.  The earthen cultures were very well done, there might be some stereotyping there, but – letting me stereotype what the “American Republic” might be like is different than a colony-turned-dictatorship/monarchy-on-the-moon. Who were the settlers? What art, architecture, and style did they bring with them? How did their own struggles as a colony and then free-state impact those things?  I found myself wanting more.

Characters: It’s hard to re-imagine fairy tales. Some of them are just a thin veneer of a tale. Making good heroines after some of the “princesses” of fairy tales is a challenge.  Marissa Meyer does this beautifully.  Even better – her villians.  Fairest, the book I’m not reviewing is about Queen Levana (pre-queenness).  Meyer’s villians – from Cinder’s stepmother Audrey Lin to Queen Levana, to the thamaturges (“mages”) who work for Levana are all believable.  There isn’t anyone who I read and thought “real people would never do that” – no, real people would totally behave that way. Even when it depresses/angers me – I believe.

Review: If you enjoyed Harry Potter; if you grew up enjoying Disney movies (if you still enjoy Disney princess movies!); if you want a creative jaunt through a set of fairy tales with a futuristic/modern twist – READ Cinder. If you hate it, leave it there. If you enjoy it even a little bit, read all four in the Lunar Chronicles.  They are young adult, so don’t expect the sort of gritty depth of a George R. R. Martin. Don’t expect the science of a Timothy Zhan or a John Scalzi. Come for the characters, enjoy the ride and relax. After all, fairy tales are told to entertain and warn. Marissa Meyer captures that essence entirely.

Writer, nerd, and perpetual student. I am obsessed with books - both the reading and the making of them. If I won the lottery I would try to have the best private(ish) library in the world. It wouldn't be totally private because the whole purpose of having books is helping other people find a book they will love. I have 2 cats, Genkii (energy) and Kawaii (cutie). I will mention them regularly because they are a daily delight in my life. Granted, sometimes when I'm playing video games they are not so much "delight" as they are "distraction"... but I love them regardless.

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