The first category to be ticked off in the PopSugar Reading Challenge 2016 was a book based on a fairy tale – I decided the best way to fulfil this would be to give The Lunar Chronicles a go. I didn’t know a whole lot about the series going in – mostly ‘fairy tales’ and ‘Robots’ and, given that the series was called The Lunar Chronicles, I was guessing that ‘the moon’ was going to feature.
There are five books in the series, plus a collection of short stories. The publication order goes Cinder – Scarlet – Cress – Fairest – Winter – Stars Above, so that was the order I read them in (although a few of the short stories I read in between times). Cinder to Winter I read in January, but Stars Above wasn’t actually published until March, so obviously I couldn’t read it until then.
I LOVED this series. I love fairy tales at the best of times, and I love romance, and I love fantasy, so this was basically never not going to be a thumbs up from me, but Marissa Meyer does a really good job of drawing you into her world and making you really root for the characters. Even the clichéd and predictable aspects of the book, I accepted them on the basis that ‘it’s a fairy tale! Of course there’ll be a happily ever after’ and went away from each of these books with a really satisfied sense of happiness.
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.
Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. 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.
As the opener of the series, this was bang on. I loved all the little nods to the original Cinderella story, from the pumpkin-coloured vehicle to leaving the ball, to the prince not knowing who he was looking for. The main character, Cinder, is a bad-ass, a mechanic, a put-upon stepsister, disabled, a WoC, and basically awesome – she’s a really compelling head to be inside, with all sorts of cyborg additions which make her really interesting, too. The story was, at times, a little predicable – you could see certain reveals coming a mile off – but at the same time, I loved the story-telling, the characters, the world-building, and all the little nods to the fairytale lore I’m so fond of. A really strong start to the series, a great book, and one which I’d have no hesitation in recommending.
Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s 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. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to 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 (which is based on Little Red Riding Hood) was much slower to start than Cinder. I didn’t like Scarlet as much as I liked Cinder as a main character, and after the hustle and action of New Beijing, a tiny town outside Toulouse was a massive change of pace which jarred with me a little. But the book settled before too long and I was hooked again – really enjoying still the nods to the original fairy tales, but intrigued also to see where else the story would take us.
Even in the future. there are damsels in distress…
In the third installment of the Lunar chronicles, 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 a great 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 as a high price. Meanwhile, 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.
Cress, based on Rapunzel, is the third heroine to join the group trying to save the world from Queen Levana. Naive, sweet, innocent, and utterly loveable, she’s totally different from tough, spiky Scarlet or clever, innovative Cinder, and rounds out the group dynamic wonderfully. In this third installment, the story begins to diverge as the group is split up by their rescue mission going awry, and the group have different objectives to achieve. I felt like this book was sometimes a little nondescript, maybe? As the middle of the series, it couldn’t really do much in terms of framing, nor in terms of concluding, so it was kind of stuck with keeping things going. That said, though, it managed to do that admirably – much better than some first or last books I’ve read before!
That’ll do for now, and I’ll put up my thoughts on Fairest, Winter, and Stars Above in my next post!