I’ve actually managed to tick a few categories off the PopSugar challenge by using The Lunar Chronicles – Fairest and Winter/Cinder have fulfilled ‘a book and its prequel’ while Winter ticked off ‘a book more than 600 pages’ and Scarlet was ‘a book set in Europe’. Combined with ‘a book based on a fairy tale’, that was four categories for six books, which is really not bad at all. I feel a bit guilty that either Cinder or Winter has ticked off two categories, though. I might reassign Cress as the book based on the fairy tale, and then each book fulfils one criterion.
I realise that this is just prevarication, but I don’t really want duplicates on a single list.
In any case, there are three more books to be briefly discussed in the series!
In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.
Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?
Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.
Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death.
Fairest, on GoodReads, is marked up as #3.5. Although that is when I read it – between Cress and Winter – I would disagree with its numbering. I think it’s really better placed as #0.4, as it happens almost entirely before Cinder. But I can understand why it’s placed as #3.5 as it’s really only relevant after Cress.
Fairest tells the backstory of Queen Levana, the Lunar queen who has been prowling around in the background of the first three books, attempting to, basically, take over the world.
This book was really short – almost a novella, rather than a novel, at only 256 pages. It, however, was certainly more than enough to give an insight into Levana’s strange and twisted mind, as well as her bizarre upbringing.
Levana isn’t a sympathetic character in any way, shape or form. She’s twisted and evil, basically. But I really enjoyed the insight into her mind and her motivations as they led to the point where we met her first, as she engineers a political marriage to Kai.
My opinion of Levana from this book was a little like this:
She is *twisted*. And I really enjoyed seeing that, but I wasn’t as compelled as I was with earlier books in the series, so this one didn’t get as high a rating.
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?
Winter, then, is based on Snow White, and Winter is the step-daughter of Queen Levana – the Fairest of fairest. As the conclusion of the series, this was everything I had been hoping for – it was packed with action and adventure, rebellion, disasters, tragedy, romance, more fairy-tale references, and the oh-so-important happily ever after. It was long, and there was a whole lot going on, but I was left totally satisfied with how the series was concluded. I would’ve been satisfied to have left it there, as I really did think it was ended wonderfully, but the last thing to add on to this was Stars Above.
The enchantment continues….
The universe of the Lunar Chronicles holds stories—and secrets—that are wondrous, vicious, and romantic. How did Cinder first arrive in New Beijing? How did the brooding soldier Wolf transform from young man to killer? When did Princess Winter and the palace guard Jacin realize their destinies?
With nine stories—five of which have never before been published—and an exclusive never-before-seen excerpt from Marissa Meyer’s upcoming novel, Heartless, about the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, Stars Above is essential for fans of the bestselling and beloved Lunar Chronicles.
The Little Android: A retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid,” set in the world of The Lunar Chronicles.
Glitches: In this prequel to Cinder, we see the results of the plague play out, and the emotional toll it takes on Cinder. Something that may, or may not, be a glitch….
The Queen’s Army: In this prequel to Scarlet, we’re introduced to the army Queen Levana is building, and one soldier in particular who will do anything to keep from becoming the monster they want him to be.
Carswell’s Guide to Being Lucky: Thirteen-year-old Carswell Thorne has big plans involving a Rampion spaceship and a no-return trip out of Los Angeles.
The Keeper: A prequel to the Lunar Chronicles, showing a young Scarlet and how Princess Selene came into the care of Michelle Benoit.
After Sunshine Passes By: In this prequel to Cress, we see how a nine-year-old Cress ended up alone on a satellite, spying on Earth for Luna.
The Princess and the Guard: In this prequel to Winter, we see a game called The Princess
The Mechanic: In this prequel to Cinder, we see Kai and Cinder’s first meeting from Kai’s perspective.
Something Old, Something New: In this epilogue to Winter, friends gather for the wedding of the century…
Stars Above isn’t a novel – it’s a collection of nine short stories, four of which had already been released in other forms. It’s not essential reading – lots of the stories expand on what was already mentioned in the main novels. But it’s interesting and pads out the series by filling in little details, expanding on the back story of various characters, and giving an alternative perspective to that first meeting between Cinder and Kai way back in the first book.
I had two favourite stories in this:
The Little Android was a (largely) unrelated adaptation of The Little Mermaid which I thought stood really well on its own, and was true to the spirit of the Hans Christian Andersen story, while still adding its own Lunar Chronicles twist – it alone would get four stars from me.
Something Old, Something New is an epilogue to Winter, where two of the main characters get married – I won’t say any more because of spoilers. Suffice it to say that it was a lovely, sweet, enjoyable epilogue which showcased the characters of the series in a far more relaxed, sweet, and romantic setting, which added an extra little sweetness to a series I thoroughly enjoyed.
Stars Above is definitely not necessary for the series, though, and doesn’t provide anything crucial. Unlike Just One Day and Just One Year, Stars Above adds and embellishes, but the books stand on their own, and Stars Above is just a bunch of snapshots of extra detail.
Because of that, it’s not entirely compelling, and so it doesn’t grab the same way the novels did. Still enjoyable though!