Author: Marissa Meyer
Book(s): Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Winter and short stories (Fairest and Stars Above)
Book in series: all four books and short stories
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Release date(s): 2012 – 2015
Source: Bought from The Edge of the World Bookshop
The Lunar Chronicles is a series of fantasy dystopian books written by Marissa Meyer. Each book is a new take on a well-loved fairy tale including Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Snow White.
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.
Ever since I joined Instagram a few months ago, my feed has been flooded with pictures of The Lunar Chronicles (a female orientated fantasy dystopia) alongside rave reviews. As many of you will know, it’s hard to be in the book community and not fall for the hype of popular books. For me especially, whenever dystopia comes into the picture I just can’t help but cave in and get myself the series.
So now I’ve finally read the series I can’t stop asking one massive question: “how hadn’t I heard about this series before now?” Seriously though, it was just so good that it’s genuinely hard to imagine my life without it. I read Cress (the third book) in one day, and then the next day read the whole of Winter (the fourth book) in the space of about 10 hours. If you’ve seen Winter in the flesh then you’ll know how big it is (824 pages to be exact!), but I managed to read it in such a short space of time and that for me is the proof of a brilliant book, which pretty much sums up the entire series.
As I’m a bit late to the show, I thought I’d bring you a review of the whole series rather than the individual books.
Our main girls in the series (Cinder, Scarlet, Cress and Winter) are some of the best protagonists I’ve ever come across and together they made the books an incredible read. All four of them are diverse and brilliantly unique and each come with their own little quirks. My favourite female character was probably Cinder (though choosing is like deciding between your own children!) and my least favourite was Scarlet. This is mainly because I didn’t warm to her as much and sometimes found her a little irritating, but I still really enjoyed her side of the story. As with most groups there’s the one hopeless romantic and that happened to be Cress who was sometimes a bit too idealistic did occasionally make me cringe. Differently to the others, Winter suffered from mental health issues and was often called “crazy” by those around her (in a harmless way), but she was truly adorable and probably the funniest and sweetest of the group – the whole way through the last book all I wanted to do was give her a hug!
I often only focus on the heroines of the story, but this series also had some pretty amazing male characters in it too: Prince Kai, Wolf, Thorne and Jacin. Thorne is without a doubt the funniest male character I’ve come across in a while and his humour added light in an otherwise dark situation. Being a mix of fantasy and dystopia you’d expect to find a sweet handsome prince which in this case is Kai, who sometimes for me lacked a certain depth, making it very obvious that he was a background character. Don’t get me wrong, he was still likeable, but I prefer my guys a bit rougher around the edges. Wolf and Jacin were both quite interesting characters, as they felt a lot of conflict within themselves, especially when it came to serving Levana and following their hearts, which made for a more unpredictable story.
It wouldn’t be a fantasy retelling without our heroine having to come up against an evil queen, and oh, how Marissa Meyer delivered with this one… Queen Levana is like no other fantasy villain, or if she is, then I bet she could take down any evil monstrosity thrown her way. It’s not often in a series like this that I genuinely feel threatened by the enemy’s existence, but Levana was so unpredictable and cunning I honestly didn’t know what the outcome would be. Also, unlike in most fantasy dystopias, she had so much depth to her character which at times led me to feel sorry for her, but ultimately made my skin crawl.
I’m so in awe of Marissa Meyer’s ability to world build, which is some of the most incredible I’ve ever seen. The whole book is still so vivid in my mind even after a few weeks of being away from it, and I’m having a hard time trying to move on (not that Iactually want to). What was really interesting was how none of the books were set in America or England (in fact some of it was set in space), which are the typical settings for most books, especially dystopias. This made it more dynamic as you find yourself in places you’ve never been to, including Lunar (unless of course you’ve been to the moon, in which case WOW!)
One of my favourite things about this series was how it offered great escapism. This is mainly because of the fantasy elements which you don’t find in many dystopias as they can be too real to find escape in. This doesn’t mean it wasn’t easy to relate to (that’s definitely not the case) as it still discussed issues we face in our own society like disease, disability and racism to name a few. Marissa Meyer somehow managed to include so much content in the series without it at all feeling over crammed which was mainly down to the superb world building. What I found really interesting was how mental health was embedded in the story in the character Winter. When Lunars don’t use their bioelectricity for ages it causes them to hallucinate which induces anxiety panic attacks – it a relief to see an author discuss this in a main character as mental health is definitely something which needs to be talked about more.
If this review seems a bit gushy then it’s good that it comes across because I honestly loved this series so much! If you do read this series, then make sure you also get your hands on Fairest (which gives a much needed insight into Levana’s story) and Stars Above (a collection of short stories from our favourite characters) as they’re the perfect way to say goodbye to the series.