This is a review of all four Lunar Chronicles books: Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter. When I saw Cinder, the first book in the Lunar Chronicles, I was turned off by the cover and description. I hadn’t yet delved into fantasy YA and so I didn’t buy the series. I had a “what the heck was I thinking” moment about a month ago and bought the book. And I inhaled it, and then bought the next book and so forth until I had rapidly inhaled each of the books in the series. They are delightful. What makes them so delightful is not so much their setting, which could be more fleshed out but their characters. I was really charmed by Cinder and by Kai and their story (complete with cyborg foot aka glass slipper) and the terrifyingly evil Queen Levanna.
Why is mind control so scary? I think it’s because when someone is bigger and stronger than you comes to attack you, there are things you can do to protect yourself. Areas of the body to hit that do more damage, you can flee, you can draw a weapon. But when someone takes control of your mind, you become completely helpless. That’s what makes Queen Levanna so scary. She’s ruthless and unapologetic about her actions. She hurts people, including her own step daughter, Winter and her sister’s daughter, Cinder. She creates a genetically modified army of super soldiers to conquer Earth.
The books explore bullying in interesting ways. Cinder is bullied by her step-mother and step-sister (and eventually rises above them in a scene that I reread from Winter several times because I loved it so much). Queen Levanna is also bullied in terrible ways by her sister and it clearly permanently damaged her mentally and physically. Cinder continues to be a good person despite the terrible treatment she received as a child. The contrast is clear and interesting. If Cinder was raised on Luna, would she have continued to be a good person like Winter? Or would she have embraced the ability to manipulate people mentally for evil?
As far as romantic pairs, I found Scarlet and Wolf were the most swoon worthy. The overcome a lot of obstacles to be together. Plus they are not as chaste as the other couples. It’s understandable that Cress and Thorne are pretty chaste because she’s so innocent. I also must add that I have a good friend who looks and drools over other women but is completely head over heels in love with his wife so this type of relationship can work. I have to wonder though when horny teenagers don’t act like horny teenagers!
If you are looking for a really interesting take on the classic fairy tales, I recommend these books. I really enjoyed this series, and will read more books by Marissa Meyer. The new one with the future Queen of Hearts looks fun.