Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Series Review: Lunar Chronicles (Cinder, Scarlet, Cress) by Marissa Meyer

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1)
Genre: YA Science Fiction/Fantasy | Fairytale Retelling
Copyright: 2012
Publisher: Fewel and Friends
POV: Third-person - multiple narrators

Check out a Dream Casting of Cinder I did with my blogger friend/cousin at Books Are Bread: here.

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.

Main Character: I really liked Cinder. She was strong even though she lived a very down-trodden life. She also did things because she knew they were right. She had to survive in a world where people were prejudiced against her for being a cyborg, so she really is starting in the negative. However, she still has spunk and I can respect that in a heroine.

Love Connection: This is a fairy-tale but it's also a futuristic cyborg's world, so the love-style in this book is full on: Disney Princess meets the Fifth Element

Kai is a swoon-worthy prince. He has morals and is a "real" person, not just a stand-in hunky guy. I do wish we could have seen more from him and his feelings towards Cinder, but that's just the fan-girl inside of me.

Allies and Enemies: Iko! She's R2D2 meets sassy Disney side-kicks (actually, now that Star Wars is owned by Disney, I guess she's just R2D2...) Iko is awesome, she's an android, but she has a 'tude. And she is fiercely loyal to Cinder.
Levana. Evil incarnate. She is slick and elegant and dangerous. Her evil lies in her ability to manipulate people with her lunar mind powers. Her people love her, because she makes them think they love her! (EVIL!)

Setting: It's set in New Beijing, so there are definitely diverse characters and a diverse setting. So props to Marissa Meyer for her setting choice. Although there's very little of the Chinese culture that we know today, there's enough that we know where the story is set. I do wish that there was more incorporation of the Chinese culture, but you can't ask for everything and the story is supposed to mainly be a fairytale retelling, so it didn't bother me. It was just on my wishlist for the book.

Even in the Future the Story Begins with Once Upon a Time.

Vanity is a factor, but it is more a question of control. It is easier to trick others into perceiving you as beautiful if you can convince yourself you are beautiful. But mirrors have an uncanny way of telling the truth

Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2)
Genre: YA Science Fiction/Fantasy | Fairytale Retelling
Copyright: 2013
Publisher: Fewel and Friends
POV: Third-person - multiple narrators
Rating: 3 out of 5

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She's trying to break out of prison--even though if she succeeds, she'll be the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive. Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit's grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn't know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother's whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

You guys, things got REAL in Scarlet. We're not in fairytale land anymore (except...we kind of still are, since this is a Red Riding Hood retelling).

Main Character: I enjoyed Scarlet, not as much as I liked Cinder, but she was a good main character. She starts off stronger than Cinder was in the last book, so that might be why it was harder for me to relate to her. But she's a strong heroine who is worthy of this epic world that Marissa Meyer has created. Also, some of the book is still told from Cinder's POV.

Love Connection: Wolf, the hunky and mysterious fighter who helps Scarlet as she tries to track down her missing grandmother's location. 

Scarlet is more mature than Cinder. So this love style is: Grimm (the TV show) meets any Teen Action movie (a la Abduction)

Allies and Enemies: Captain Thorne. He is actually Cinder's Ally not Scarlet's. However, Scarlet only hangs out with Wolf in this book, so she really doesn't have a lot of Allies to speak of.

And of course, the big baddie is still the sly and manipulative Levana.

Setting: Still as large and intriguing as in Cinder. It's even bigger since the whole world is getting in on this Lunar conflict now. And with the new setting of France we see how everyone is affected by the threat.

A sickening howl stopped her, sucking the air out of her lungs. The night's chatter silenced, even the loitering city rats pausing to listen.Scarlet had heard wild wolves before, prowling the countryside in search of easy prey on the farms.But never had a wolf's howl send a chill down her spine like that.

Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3)
Genre: YA Science Fiction/Fantasy > Future Fantasy world > Fairytale Retelling
Copyright: 2014
Publisher: Fewel and Friends
POV: Third-person - multiple narrators
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

In this third book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.
Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who's only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.
When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has

Main Character: Cress is a little naive, a little innocent, a lot of a super genius. She's like Ed from Cowboy Bebop (bringing in the anime references!).

Love Connection: Captain Carswell Thorne. Cress is more innocent, Thorne is very debonaire. This love style is Princess Bride meets These Broken Stars.

Allies and Enemies: Levana is still the biggest baddie in the galaxy, but Sybil really gives her a run for her money.

Dr. Erland is back in this book. I think I was hoping he would be a Dumbledore/Yoda character, but he's not as sage as Yoda and not as lovable as Dumbledore. Still, he's a good man and he has secrets of his own that are revealed!

Jacin, he's originally the pilot of Sybil's ship and just seems like a basic soldier for Luna. But when he ends up on Cinder's ship he proves to be a little more complicated. I have no intense feelings about him as a character, but he's a good insight into the Lunar mind (other than Wolf of course).

Setting: Finally we're in Space-ace-ace-ace! Also, Earth (Africa and dessert settings). And one character gets to go to Luna so we see that creepy place.
The characters are kind of broken apart in this book (but it happens in the beginning so I don't feel like this is a spoiler). So there are a lot of new people to meet and places to go.

Maybe there isn’t such a thing as fate. Maybe it’s just the opportunities we’re given, and what we do with them. I’m beginning to think that maybe great, epic romances don’t just happen. We have to make them ourselves

So the series ain't over yet! So my mid-series rating is: 3.5 out of 5

Where Meyer shines in this series is her interpretation of the fairytales. I like my retellings to give me moments of recognizing things from the original fairytale, but overall I want a new story. That's why it's a RE-telling. And Meyer sure delivers on that.

She also created a pretty cool world for her characters. The conflict is awesome, and works well with all of the fairytales she incorporates. Also, the big baddie is kind of super creepy, so I like that it's not just a dude in a ship who wants to blow-up Earth or something. It's all a mind game, it's political, it's insidious (not the terrifying movies, just the feeling)

Meyer does a good job of giving us great characters. I do wish she would add more layers to them with each book (and she has definitely done that a little with Cinder). However, as casts get bigger it gets harder to give each character individual attention.

I'm excited for book 3.5, Fairest, coming out January 2015 and book 4, Winter, coming out in late 2015.

Recommendations: For a YA Fantasy in a non-Western setting read Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. For a futuristic retelling of a classic story read For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

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