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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

REVIEW: The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

Published in 2012, Cinder marks the beginning of Meyer's Lunar Chronicles. A futuristic twist on Cinderella, protagonist, Cinder, is a 16 year old cyborg living in New Beijing as a mechanic and under the domineering thumb of her stepmother.  Everything she knows changes when 1) Prince Kai seeks her assistance in repairing a very important android and 2) her beloved step-sister, Peony, contracts a deadly virus, leading Cinder to be handed over by her step-mother for experimental testing.  Her immunity to the disease leads to some surprising revelations concerning Cinder's true identity and the role she'll play as Queen Levana of Luna threatens the security of not only New Beijing but Earth as whole.

I just love this first book.  I've read it four times and appreciate its innovative twist on a fairy tale classic more each time.  While elements of the original tale seep through, Meyer deftly creates a compelling world of her own with outstanding detail, memorable characters, excitement and humor.

The adventure continues with Scarlet--a twist on Red Riding Hood. At 18, Scarlet Benoit is a fiery and fiercely independent protagonist living with her ex-military grandmother on a farm in rural France. When her grandmother, Marie, goes missing, Scarlet is determined to find her; however, what she doesn't bargain for is the unexpected connection to Cinder and Queen Levana's alarming plans for genetically modified soldiers' attack on Earth. Scarlet is drawn to the mysterious streetfighter, Wolf, and together they unravel one mystery before joining Cinder as well as her new, unlikely ally, Captain Carswell Thorne--a wisecracking, wanted fugitive. They have to stay one step ahead of the queen's evil plans in order save Prince Kai from a deadly marriage alliance.

As much as I love Cinder--the story and characters--, the series as a whole begins to gel with Scarlet.  There are still plenty of memorable Cinder moments as she discovers more about her past but the addition of Thorne, Scarlet and Wolf and the intertwined stories push the adventure to another level. Lest I forget Iko, the beloved android with a faulty personality chip, readers grew to love in Cinder. She's back with a surprising new look much to her dismay, but it makes for amusing reading.

Cress, the third book in the series, is a retelling of Rapunzel. Born a Lunar shell which separated her from her family, Cress has lived nearly her entire life isolated on a satellite orbiting Earth. Forced to work as a computer hacking spy for evil thaumaturge Sybil, her only connection with the outside world has been immersing herself into the fantasies of Earthen net-dramas. Determined to aid Cinder's cause, Cress uses her skills to protect the rebel spaceship and its crew...and it's Captain. In a gloriously failed rescue attempt, Cress makes it to Earth with charismatic Thorne, too bad they are stranded in the Sahara and he's now blind. Readers are in store for an entertaining adventure with plenty of character in peril. The real question is if they'll reunite to foil the royal wedding.

Having finished the whole series, I can now say Cress remains my favorite book.  I adore Thorne and will be a Cress + Carswell shipper for life. It wouldn't be a Meyer book if Cress' backstory wasn't rooted deep within the queen's plan to take over Earth. What I love about Cress is her character evolution more than any other in the series. She's smart and innocent yet Cress is a survivor. I love the building of the story throughout. There's a great balance between what happens with Cress, Cinder and Scarlet as well as Kai.  I love the little glimpse of Winter and of course Iko!

For fans, Winter is the much anticipated final book of the series. Taking place almost entirely on Luna, Cinder has returned to reclaim the throne and incite a revolution among the Lunar people. Readers finally get to know Winter, the gorgeous princess with an unseemly scar who seems fragile and altogether out of her mind.  In this adaptation of the Snow White classic, Winter is the doomed heroine while Jacin fills the role of the Huntsman.  Best friends since childhood, Winter would have their relationship move forward, yet Jacin knows that he can never hope to call her his as a mere guard. Queen Levana is the evilest of evil stepmothers.

Meyer blends elements of this classic tale seemlessly within the complicated plot fueling this final book. I refuse to give away spoilers but it is safe to say that the end and all the adventures in between live up to the the hype and expectations set throughout the series. There's romance, humor, action and peril galore. But despite everything, readers truly get a happy ending worthy of our most beloved fairy tale characters.

Overall, I just adore this series. I rank it within my top five and that is hard to do.  It feels bittersweet that it is over. I do look forward to the short story release of Stars Above in early 2016. For fans wanting confirmation that Levana deserves to be despised, read Fairest.  This is an intriguing prequel to the series that will have readers, at times, questioning their hatred for Levana but ultimately agreeing that she put the 'E' in evil and should reap what she sows.

Final series rating: 5 out of 5

#Cinder #Scarlet #Cress #Winter #LunarChronicles #marissameyer #twistedfairytales #YAlit #teen #bookreview