Wednesday

Crazy in love with "The Lunar Chronicles"


Fairytales. Space. Cyborgs.

Come on. It was only a matter of time before I read The Lunar Chronicles, the sci-fi/YA series by Marissa Meyer

Cinder, a cyborg and mechanic, Scarlet, a tough farmer searching for her missing grandmother, and Cress, a gifted hacker held captive in a satellite, are reimagined versions of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel. Their stories seamlessly connect as they become allies in a fight to save a vulnerable and plague-ridden Earth from the power-hungry evil queen of the moon and her mind-control abilities. It's a little Once Upon A Time, a little Sailor Moon, a little Battlestar Galactica. Along with thrills, there are dashing and well-developed love interests, mad scientists, giggling androids and royal mysteries.


If it sounds a bit much, you have my reassurances. I do not jump on bandwagons easily. I get nervous about series and about YA because of the time commitment and because of the risk of cheesy or poorly written fiction. But I sped through this crazy addictive delight of a series during a handful of gloriously escapist days and found it well worth the page total. I don't even know what I'll do with myself from now until Winter, the final chapter, which will focus on Meyer's Snow White equivalent.

A few reasons why I'm a lunatic:

The creativity boggles the mind. The way Meyer incorporates key elements of familiar tales and gives them an unpredictable spin is so cool, like with Cinder's ill-fitting cyborg foot standing in for a glass slipper and with Scarlet piloting a ship of produce during her day job instead of carrying a basket of provisions. These spins can be tiny and clever or whiplash-inducing. Certain spoilery moments I won't reveal made me go, "I JUST GOT THAT!!!" Triple-exclamation point needed.

The worldbuilding is genius. Meyer should teach a college course in worldbuilding. I would go back to school anywhere in the country and take out a whole mess of loans just for that. Her post World War IV society is fully realized, with a rich history, nifty yet believable technology and complex politics and social issues (I'm not kidding — the series deals with illegal immigration, human rights, surveillance, health care). She's just thought of everything and it's all amazing.



Even her explanations about how the Lunars can control people's minds and make them see things that aren't really there fall within the limits of plausible suspension of disbelief. I'm excited to see more of Luna and how life on the former Earthen colony works in Winter.

The series pleases my feminist heart. We don't even have to talk about how Cinder can shoot tranquilizer darts from her index finger, has an Internet connection in her brain and a built-in blinking lie detector (although please, let's). I love how strong the core female characters are, and not just physically. They are so strong of spirit. Cinder is brave, smart and endlessly resourceful. Scarlet's fierce loyalty is matched by her undaunted opinions. Even Cress, the most stereotypically boy-focused distressed of the damsels, is quietly brave and has a fantastic imagination. I love how they all have kind of traditionally male professions, and it's not really made into a big thing. And I LOVE how there's an overarching theme, even with what little we've seen of Winter's character, that these women will be a team, since so many portrayals of women only focus on them tearing each other apart.



You have to love a series that questions why the princess can't just save herself and that includes lines like "You can help me pick out a tiara when we're done saving the world."

Bring in the boys. Of course, every fairytale, no matter how modern, is going to at least dabble in the romance. But the love interests are refreshingly real, as are the relationships. You can pretty much interchange any Disney princesses and princes and end up with the same dynamic, but you can't say the same for the Lunar Chronicles. Whether you're into instant chemistry, one character trying to win another's heart or a passion rooted in friendship, you'll find plenty of quotable swoon-worthiness here. Speaking of friendship, the series is great at portraying purely platonic friendships across the gender line. Although I would definitely be way more than friends if I could with the roguish and hilarious Captain Thorne. Even with the abundance of love interests, the books pass the Bechdel test so hard, they deserve a slow clap.

Yes! Diversity! Having characters from another planet in a book but depicting only North America and white people would be pretty ridiculous. So I think it's awesome that the series takes place across the world, starting with New Beijing, that Cinder is of mixed ethnicity and Winter is black (yup, a black Snow White. And she has curly hair. I'm so into it).

It's a NaNoWriMo success story. Meyer has said she wrote each of the first three books as a National Novel Writing Month project. This woman! I want to be friends with her. It makes me think about my own started and abandoned NaNoWriMo novel from a few years back and all the ideas I've had lately for major additions and subtractions, but that's for another blog post.

It's just fun. This series manages to deal with terrifying subject matter, have more action than a Marvel movie and keep me in frantic suspense, yet keep me laughing and full of childlike wonder. Please just go read them, right now.


The series

Cinder
Scarlet
Cress
Fairest (the evil queen's story, which is compelling and revealing yet guaranteed to give you the squicks)
Winter (you best BELIEVE I pre-ordered this already. This is not amateur hour).

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