Series Wrap-Up: The Lunar Chronicles

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The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer review - Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Fairest, Winter

The Lunar Chronicles is a four-book young adult science fiction series (plus one novella and a lot of short stories), doubling up as a retelling of numerous fairy tales and a dystopian adventure set in a futuristic Japan. The series takes the main characters from the fairy tales Cinderella (Cinder), Red Riding Hood (Scarlet), Rapunzel (Cress), and Snow White (Winter) and adapts them to this new setting, moulding backstories and personality traits around it. 

The world is one where citizens of Earth are at odds with a society that lives on the moon: the 'Lunars'. The Lunars have powers to glamour themselves and appear as they wish to, along with elements of mind control and a tendency to be quite sick and twisted. They are ruled over by Levana (who gets her own fascinating backstory in the novella Fairest) who is eager to have the Earth for herself as well as Luna. Back on Earth, we have humans living among androids and, more importantly, cyborgs who are human/android mixes. Levana hates cyborgs, because she's an evil dictator and they always need to be a little bit racist, don't they?

We are introduced in Cinder to, well, Cinder. She's a mechanic and a cyborg, adopted by a caring father who dies and leaves her with, you guessed it, her evil stepmother and stepsisters. Her stepmother looks down on her and treats her as if she is simply a machine, although we learn through this series that androids very much have feelings too. This is where we begin our journey, at humble beginnings, but everything picks up very quickly. Throughout the series we are introduced to more characters with their own stories and clever twists on the traditional fairy tales, but I can't go into that without giving all of the juicy details away.

One thing I can initially praise this series on is the fact it contains a believable array of people from different places around the world, something I never really associate young adult fiction with. Our main character, Cinder, is Japanese, as well as Kai, the Crown Prince of the Eastern Commonwealth. In the fourth book we are introduced to Princess Winter who is black, and so is her father. The majority of the first book takes place in Japan and I'm fairly sure through the entire series there are no parts set in what is future America or the United Kingdom. A non-white female protagonist for a young adult series is still, sadly, quite a rare thing. One of my gripes, however, would be that, as far as I'm aware, there are no non-heterosexual couples in this series, to the point at which is gets annoying (see: predictable) and doesn't stray from your usual Disney (see: man and lady love each other) fairy tale format.

Back to the good stuff: the world-building in this series of phenomenal. Perhaps because Meyer has based this on Earth but perhaps not, these books are so engrossing and I found myself constantly eager to find out more about this world and its dynamics. When reading you are deeply entrenched in its politics, meeting envoys from other nations and hearing discussions on contracts and unions and war. This is where the retellings really stand out for me. The stories have been uprooted and placed somewhere completely new, but still work in a way that make you put the book down and go, 'Wow, that was so smart and I didn't see it coming.' I'm really hoping this is the same response I have when I pick up Meyer's new series which is a retelling of Alice in Wonderland, starting with Heartless (being released in November by Feiwel & Friends).

The Lunar Chronicles is a series I am genuinely sad to see end, and I wish I could be more eloquent when speaking about it. I want more from these characters after being spoiled by such an entertaining story and so many extra short stories released to fill in the little details. Marissa Meyer, never stop writing.

M x

P.S. So, there's people on the moon but there's not anyone on Mars. Where are the Martians? Where are they???

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