The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer is a sci-fi series retelling the stories of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White. The combination of the sci-fi genre and fairytales is an interesting one and doesn’t seem like it should work, but man, it totally does. This series is just so fun and lighthearted and an absolute joy to read. It made me smile and I would totally recommend it if you ever need a pick-me-up. Full review with spoilers below the cut.
This series has a somewhat basic plot of an evil queen plotting to take over Earth and a rag-tag team of misfits trying to stop her. While the plot is interesting, it is quite simplistic and cliche, but given that the series is a fairytale retelling, I’m totally okay with that. In fact, I think the simple plot makes for a great foundation for Marissa Meyer to easily interweave the fairytale elements without it feeling too forced or out-of-place. I really enjoyed how she played with the fairytale elements and they felt like little easter eggs. If you don’t know the original stories, it’s totally fine because the elements really work with the story but if you do know the stories, it’s fun to pick out the little shoutouts to the original fairytale. Examples include Kai’s obsession with Cinder’s cyborg foot, Cinder’s escape car that was described to look like a pumpkin, Winter’s temporary transparent “coffin” (which was actually a suspended animation tank for healing), the seven people who died when Winter contracted letumosis, Scarlet’s red hoodie, etc, etc. Super fun but doesn’t feel forced into the story at all.
While the plot and the fairytale elements are fun, what really elevates this series is the characters. I fell completely in love with every single one of them, individually but especially together. I love how each of them are so strong and competent in their own individual ways, I love how diverse they are, I love each of the four couples (my favorite is Cinder and Kai though), and I LOVE LOVE LOVE when they interact with each other, especially with people other than their significant other. I’ve never seen such a perfect #squadgoals ensemble before and anytime any one of them spoke to any of the others, I just had a huge smile on my face. All of them are so different and yet they work so well together. You’ve got the tomboy lost princess, the young emperor, the feisty country girl, the genetically modified wolf-man, the incredibly clever girl who has never known social interaction for the majority of her life, the snarky criminal, the mentally unstable princess, the evil queen’s ex-guard, and the lovable android. Their conversations and interactions with one another are just so damn adorable, I can’t even handle it.
The characters are also really strong individually in their own unique ways. Cinder is a cyborg girl who’s wanted nothing more than to be accepted by her family and society when she is suddenly thrust into the role of queen. I love how she didn’t shy away from her responsibilities, though she was clearly hesitant about it, because she knew that the people of Luna needed her. She can achieve anything through sheer determination. Kai is my absolute favorite character and I know he gets a lot of flak because he’s not as involved with the revolution as much as the rest. But he’s the emperor so of course he has to stay behind and carry out his duties. And he does them with so much responsibility. He has the literal weight of the world on his shoulders and he would do anything, would sacrifice every part of himself for his people, even if it meant marrying Queen Levana, and he does so with utter grace and dignity (and a whole lot of sass). Scarlet and Wolf are my least favorite but I love how they are so badass and how their love for each other is able to overcome the obstacles placed in front of them (even when those obstacles include genetic modification). Cress is socially awkward but she’s a whiz with technology and their revolution wouldn’t have gotten anywhere without her capabilities. Thorne is so snarky and hilarious and he brightens up any mood with his wit. His bromance with Cinder is adorable and he always cracks me up. Winter is possibly the strongest out of all of them. She’s mentally unstable due to her refusal to use her Lunar mind control powers because she understands how wrong it is to take away someone’s willpower. The fact that she goes through horrific hallucinations and goes crazy just so that the people around her can maintain their willpower is incredible and totally admirable. Her story is one of the most tragic but beautiful ones out of all the characters. Jacin’s love for Winter is also really sweet. He would do anything to protect Winter from outside threats and from herself, even if it meant giving up his own dreams. And finally, you have Iko, the android with a personality glitch who is able to feel more human emotions than an android typically should. She is the BFF you never knew you wanted and her friendship with Cinder is so sweet. Also, she is me everytime she interacted with (i.e. swooned over) Kai.
Sigh, so this review ended up being a gush about all the characters, as I knew it would. Honestly, the characters are the highlight of the entire series. They are written so well and they are so complex and real. I think that they are also really great role models for young adults in different ways. Overall, this series just brought me a lot of happiness and it’s one that I will always look back on with fond memories. Read it if you want to be happy.
Cheers and happy reading!