So I am done with the Lunar Chronicles. Finally! What a ride it has been! A tiny bit lengthy towards the end but all in all a fun enjoyable adrenaline pumping adventure.
For those of you who haven’t heard of this series Lunar is a set of four young adult futuristic novels – Cinder, Scarlet, Cress and Winter – loosely based on four fairy tales.
I was done with the first book last year but I read the other three in quick succession over a week. In my mind this is a single long story, which is why it makes sense to review the books together. I promise to keep it short.
First, here’s what the books are about:
The stories are set in the future. Earth is tormented by a plague that threatens to wipe off the entire population.
Meanwhile, the Moon has been colonised, is called Luna and is inhabited by Lunars. Peace between the Earthens and Lunars is a tenuous thing with the powerful Lunar queen wanting to take over Earth. With that in mind she is looking for an alliance with the Prince (later King) Kaito of the Eastern Commonwealth (China). Lunars are adept in the art of mind control which makes them formidable enemies. There is also a dead/missing princess believed to be the true heir to the Lunar throne.
The story begins with Cinder (obviously Cinderella), who is a Cyborg (part human part machine) and lives with her adoptive mother and two step sisters in New Beijing. She’s an exceptionally talented mechanic and meets Prince Kai when he comes to her to get his android repaired. Then on, secrets are revealed and Cinder has a confrontation with the Lunar queen resulting in her imprisonment and subsequent escape.
The book opens with Cinder, who’s on the run along with an accomplice from the prison, Thorne. The story then moves to a small farm in France where we get to meet Scarlet Benoit. Her tale meshes seamlessly with that of Cinder as they get ready to take on the Lunar Queen.
Cinder is still on the run and is slowly building a team to help her. Cress, a Lunar, computer whiz, joins her in this book.
This last one is the culmination of the series and we meet our last protagonist Princess Winter, step daughter of the Lunar Queen. The book spirals towards a showdown with between Cinder and the Lunar Queen and the inevitable happily ever after – just as a young adult adventure series should.
What I loved
Books set in the future are my newest obsession. Needless to say that I enjoyed the setting of future earth as also Lunar colonisation which gave a Hunger Games kind of a feel but then the story was so very different that it didn’t get tedious.
The fairy tale twist
I adored the way the fairy tales were integrated in the stories. Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Snow White – I loved them all.
Were the bestest part of the books. They were all adorable and very differently so. If I had to choose a single strongest feature that endeared the series to me, it would have to be the characters. And if I had one complaint, it would be that some of them didn’t get enough space in the book, specially Princess Winter.
Humour, if done well, can uplift most genres of story-telling and Meyer uses it so well here. When the narrative begin to lag, and there are bits when they do that, it’s the humour that carries the story through. (Thorne and Iko remain my favourite characters, for that reason. You’ll know what I mean if/when you read the books).
The issues thrown up
The books talk about discrimination, about cyborgs being look down upon, about the transience of physical beauty and about the stupidity of judging people based on stereotypes. All pertinent issues in the current times.
What could have been better
I have no complaints from the first two books.
Cinder was absolutely smashing. It did a wonderful job of setting the scene and building the story, leaving the reader at a cliff-hangar, craving for more.
Scarlet was good too with the introduction of endearing new characters.
Cress, however, grew tedious in bits, a case of ‘too many twists spoil the plot’. You just wanted to skim through the pages fast and get to the inevitable end.
Winter, despite being a mammoth read, didn’t have much about Princess Winter. Also, the layout of Luna and the Lunar palace, described in much detail during the chase sequences, grew cumbersome. It had me completely lost and I zoned out in a haze of doors and archways and escalators of the Lunar palace. Perhaps it should have been broken down into two separate books – one on Winter and one to gather together the grand finale.
That said, I’d definitely recommend the series. It’s a glimpse into a new world, coupled with the fairy tale twist and a page turning story.
Last thought: A must for readers of fantasy fiction.