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Book Review – The Lunar Chronicles

Hello, dear friends!

I had planned to write an in-depth, hard hitting, 4 part series of reviews for this set of books. One for each book. Except I can’t finish the last book. I just can’t do it. It’s too long, it’s not as gripping as the previous installments and to be honest I’m just not as invested in the characters as I was when I first picked up Cinder, so I’ll do one big review of the whole series and move on.

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer are: Cinder, Scarlet, Cress and Winter. Each book tells the story of a new protagonist, while still revolving around the main plot of the series. Each protagonist is a different fairy tale princess, re-imagined for a sci-fi audience, you can probably guess who is who.

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Cinder, the first in the series, revolves around a cyborg mechanic in New Beijing named, Cinder. She is Cinderella. Cinder meets a handsome prince, has a bit of a flirt and must save the prince from marrying the evil Queen of Lunar (the Moon), Levana. Who has magic mind-control powers.

Scarlet is book two. The red riding hood figure, Scarlet, is trying to find her grandmother who has gone missing, with the help of a chemically enhanced super soldier, named Wolf. Cinder is off avoiding capture and learning about herself with the help of the lovable rogue, Captain Thorne; who is basically Jack Sparrow in space.

Book three is Cress. Cress is an isolated prisoner on a remote space station and Queen Levana’s personal digital spy and hacker. After a botched rescue attempt, she and Thorne wander the desert and try to regroup with Cinder, who is busy attempting to thwart Levana’s evil plans to marry Kaito (Cinder’s Prince charming) and take over Earth. Cress is Rapunzel.

And Winter is the final installment. With the wedding of Emporer Kaito and Queen Levana drawing nearer, Cinder and the crew must fight against time and rally the people of Lunar to revolt and remove the Evil Queen from her throne. Winter is the queens niece, she’s a bit crazy because she refused to use her magic mind-control powers and she talks to animals. Winter is Snow White.

These tales have been told time and time again, in many different ways and formats. This series is a fresh, new approach to old subjects and a very engaging read. The settings are imagined and described well and the politics of this future Earth are complete and make sense in a way understandable to a younger audience. While Cinder (the book) may have been a tad predictable the story was well told and still heavily addictive. The characters are fleshed out and relatable and I truly loved reading it.

Unfortunately the second book suffers from what I think of as “Sequel Syndrome”. Writers of both books and movies know that they have a lot to live up to with sequels and either cop out and fall back on the same cliches and jokes, or just fall short of the first installment. In this case it was the latter. Scarlet is, in my opinion, a tad slow. A lot happens towards the end of the book, the beginning and middle being exposition and bogged down plot. The whole book is driven more toward gearing up for a series than actually telling a new story. Enjoyable but not amazing.

Cress was where I thought this series really hit the ground running. Characters and situations properly fleshed out and documented. Fights brilliantly narrated. Angst. Love. Treachery. This book is by far the best of the series and I was very impressed with how Meyer slipped the Rapunzel plot lines into Cress’ situation. I’ll let you figure out what they were for yourself, but they were pretty genius. My biggest issue with this book is the title character. Cress herself had the potential to be an interesting and diverse character with rich backstory and complicated issues. Instead she’s a vapid teenager who is good at hacking. Her only traits are: ‘In love with a fictional character’ and ‘Good at hacking things’. The constant mooning over Captain Thorne got particularly annoying.  Considering Cinder is a complicated cyborg with hopes, dreams, fears and is a handy mechanic and Scarlet is an emotionally closed off, fierce, independent woman but secretly a big old softy AND an amazing pilot, I was a little disappointed.

I can’t really write a proper review for Winter because I couldn’t finish it. I just wasn’t as engaged with the characters as I was with the previous installments. The situations seemed contrived to fail then miraculously be survivable and Cress was as annoying as ever, despite getting captured in the first 100 pages. The 300 pages I did read, didn’t leave me wanting to read more and having looked up the spoilers, it doesn’t seem like anything too spectacular occurred. To be honest I think I just got fed up of magic mind powers and ‘insta-love’ and at 800 pages, it was just too much.

Reading this back, it sounds a little like I’m hating on the series, which isn’t the case at all. I genuinely loved the concept of the entire series and the execution of Cinder and Cress (the books). The series is an enjoyable read for anyone who likes a mixture of science fiction and fantasy and is definitely one of the better series of the YA movement, the comic relief of Iko, the robot who wants to be human, alone is reason enough to read this series. I couldn’t finish it for reasons of personal opinion and recommend to anyone looking for a quick and easy read (although Winter won’t be a quick read).

3 Stars. ***

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