Winter by Marissa Meyer
Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.
Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend—the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.
Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters?
This book was hard to finish. Not because it was bad or anything, but because I didn't want this series to end. From the first page of Cinder, Marissa Meyer delivered lovable characters, fast-paced action, political intrigue, and beautiful storytelling, and she didn't stop until the last page of Winter. I think The Lunar Chronicles are the only YA series that has never let me down. I loved every sentence of every book, and I am so sad to be finished with it.
That said, Meyer absolutely nailed the ending. Bittersweet and wonderfully thought out, Winter is the perfect conclusion to this amazing series. The elements of Snow White are incorporated with the subtle genius that Meyer brought to her sci-fi/dystopian/political thriller/romance interpretations of Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, and Rapunzel.
The leading ladies of The Lunar Chronicles are the best part of the series. I could rant for hours about the importance of a series based around six fully realized female characters and filled with a beautifully diverse cast of characters, but for now I'm just going to thank Marissa Meyer.
Thank you for this exciting, heart-wrenching, stay-up-reading-until-two-am-good series.
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles #2)
Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second installment of the 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.
The second book of the Lunar Chronicles does not disappoint. Meyer has perfected the art of blending fairy tale and science fiction, although Scarlet didn't stick to the story of Red Riding Hood as closely as Cinder followed Cinderella. The elements of the fable were still plain to see, and worked into the plot seamlessly. The solid world-building from Cinder is present in Scarlet, too, but this time in France, not New Beijing.
As Cinder's story unfolds and tangles with the stories of others, it only becomes more captivating. I wish that Cinder and Scarlet had met a little sooner in the story, but since this book is part of a series it wasn't paramount. Everything else is timed, with plenty of action sequences balanced out by suspenseful or character-building scenes. And, speaking of characters, they were flipping amazing. I fell in love with Cinder in book one, but Scarlet's fierceness and loyalty made me love her, too. Wolf and Thorne, although less major characters, were just as developed. Also, Levana continues to be terrifying.
I connected with Meyer's awesomely realistic characters right away, which made the emotional scenes that much more powerful. There were plenty of those, but Meyer never let the story get soppy, always kicking Cinder, Scarlet, & Co. into action before they could become a soap opera. The only time she doesn't really manage to do that is with the romance between Wolf and Scarlet. It is so blatantly obvious that they're going to get together, just from the blurb (She is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her), and the whole romance is pretty cheesy. It was still a better than a lot of YA romances, but Scarlet and Wolf's relationship doesn't live up to the skill Meyer showed with Cinder and Kai. I did very much like that they were two very different love stories, however.
Meyer brought the stupendous writing, characterization, and world-building from the first book and added even more oomph for Scarlet. Based on the amount of effort and talent Meyer put into the Lunar Chronicles, it's not too far off to say this series is the Harry Potter of the sci-fi genre. I cannot wait to see where she takes this series next.
Cinder by Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles #1)
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.
As a kid, I loved fairy tales and princesses as much as the next little girl. My favorite was Cinderella, and I was obsessed with her. I owned every version of the story I could get my hands on - including a retelling where "Cinderella" was a cowboy named Bubba. Cinder blows all of those versions out of the water. Meyer captures the best parts of Cinderella's story and the best elements of sci-fi and turns them into a phenomenal book.
When I was little, the thing I loved most about Cinderella was her strength - despite everything. Meyer expresses that perfectly. Linh Cinder is by far my favorite incarnation of Cinderella. While the Grimm brothers portrayed a girl waiting for her prince to save her, Meyer brings a more heroic Cinderella to life. Cinder is determined and brave, both loving and lovable. Casting her as a cyborg was an ingenious decision, and it adds another whole dimension to the story.
The detailed way Meyer intertwines science fiction and fairy tales is imaginative and engrossing. I enjoyed looking for the classic elements of Cinderella that found their way into Cinder, and I was not disappointed. From the lost shoe to the magic pumpkin, Meyer finds ways to adapt the fairy tale to a futuristic setting - which is ingenious in its own right.
For the most part, Meyer's world-building is spot-on. The few little slips here and there could very well be explained in the next book, and they weren't major enough to interfere with the story. Cinder's world is inventive and well-thought out, from the ruthless Lunars to the almost-human androids. A race of people living on the moon could have seemed far-fetched and even silly in some plot lines, but the struggles of the characters and the fairy tale make the story seem familiar and realistic.
Even if you don't typically like fairy tale retellings, if you're a fan of sci-fi, you should definitely check out Cinder. While I'm fairly biased to Cinderella stories, this book has a lot going for it. Unlike most fairy tales, Cinder is exciting and unpredictable - once upon a time doesn't necessarily lead to a happily ever after. Cinder is one of the best books I've read this year, and I absolutely can't wait to read more.
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