Seriously. I can’t fathom the fact that this young adult series has not yet taken the whole world by storm in the manner of Twilight or The Hunger Games. I have only ever come across one online source talking about it, apart from making a deliberate search to find out more. People need to get on this bandwagon. The Lunar Chronicles is unbelievably brilliant.
The place where I heard about it was a blog called Alexa Loves Books. Alexa, as you would reasonably deduce, loves books and spends a lot of time writing book reviews. Last December, she put up a post about a book called Winter, the fourth and final instalment of a series called The Lunar Chronicles by author Marissa Meyer. The opening of her review went like this:
Confession: I’ve been sitting on this review for nearly a month now. Every single time I attempted to try and talk about how Winter made me feel, I just felt like my efforts were woefully inadequate. But, even though I still feel like I could never do it justice, it’s high time that I talk a little bit about Winter. Here are a few important things you need to know:
Winter is one of the best books I’ve read all year.
Winter is one of the best series finales I’ve read ever.
Knowing that Alexa is a savvy book reviewer and doesn’t give out such high praise lightly, I decided that this was recommendation enough for me. I didn’t read any more of the review, I just sought out the first book in the series and took off reading.
And, boy, was I rewarded.
The Lunar Chronicles is a futuristic tale centred around Cinder, a cyborg working as a mechanic at a street market in New Beijing. This is where she meets Prince Kai, who asks her to fix his personal android. In this future era, people inhabit the moon, a country in its own right called Luna. Queen Levana rules Luna and has plans to take power over Earth as well via a marriage alliance with Prince Kai. Throw in a mysterious plague, a cyborg draft for antidote testing, and the Lunar ability to manipulate the thoughts and actions of others, and you have the makings of a real page-turner. And that’s just the first book, Cinder. There is much more to come in Scarlet, Cress and Winter. So much more that I wish I was only starting to read it now so that it would all still be ahead of me… *sigh*
The interesting twist is that the series is inspired by some of our best-loved fairytales. Each of the four books takes a fairytale character and gives them new life in a dramatically different way – while still allowing them to retain some semblance of familiarity. For example, Cinder is based on Cinderella: she may be a mechanic and a cyborg but she also lives with her stepmother and two stepsisters. Scarlet is a reference to Little Red Riding Hood (her grandmother is missing and she enlists a street fighter named Wolf to help find her), Cress is modelled on Rapunzel (she has been isolated from other people for years and she’s got a lot of hair), and Winter is reminiscent of Snow White (she is beautiful and she has a wicked stepmother). Throughout the series, Meyer drops little clues which remind the reader of the source material for these characters and I loved making the connection every time a new detail became clear.
The characters are the outstanding strong point of The Lunar Chronicles. They jump off the page (sorry, Kindle screen) with verve, from charming Kai to naive Cress to the arrogant-and-always-ready-with-a-quip Thorne, who is both a spaceship captain and a thief and manages to steal most of the scenes he’s in. In fact, Meyer is so good at writing characters that one of my favourites is Iko, Cinder’s fashion-loving android sidekick who isn’t even human at all. On top of this, there are four love stories across the four books and Meyer does an excellent job at making each one unique. Scenes involving any of these pairings were always special and I was rooting for them all to find their happily ever afters.
In terms of style, Meyer definitely has some preferred phrases. Characters often ‘spun around’ or ‘peeled out of the chair’ and sweat is mentioned an awful lot, whether it’s trickling down the spine or the back of the neck or into the eyes. But I didn’t mind the repetition because she also knows how to write a REALLY GOOD kiss.
I adored the first three books especially. What didn’t endear me so much about the last book, Winter (and I recognise the irony of this, seeing as it’s the source of the glowing recommendation above!), was that it started to feel a bit like Mockingjay, the final instalment of The Hunger Games, and I had never been overly keen on that particular book. That aside, I found the series overall to be intriguing and original.
So The Lunar Chronicles was a magnificent reading experience. However, I am very glad I didn’t discover it until the final book had been published because waiting for each new release would have been AGONY. Therefore all I can do is reiterate: why aren’t there more people talking about this series??
P.S. I’ve just learned that Meyer recently released another book called Stars Above which contains nine stories about The Lunar Chronicles, including an epilogue to the series! Excuse me while I dash off to consume it.