I actually remember when I first read Cinder. A friend who had recently been to ALA had picked up a galley and sent it my way because she knew I’d love it. And I did. I am the Cinderella girl after all. Who knew picking a topic for an undergraduate thesis would haunt me so?! But, let’s face it, at this point, I’ve read a LOT of Cinderella re-tellings and Cinder remains one of the more unique and fabulous ones to date.
From the start of the series, what I appreciated was the level of detail that Marissa Meyer was able to bring into the world she was creating and yet not bog her story down with world building. I find this a lot with fantasy and science fiction. The author is so preoccupied in creating the world for her characters that she forgets about her characters. Or her plot. That never happened in the Lunar Chronicles and I think that is because of the strength of the characters Meyer brought to the table.
From Cinder, Meyer moved to Scarlet (Little Red Riding Hood), Cress (Rapunzel) and Winter (Snow White). While I should not have been surprised at how well these fairy tales translated into a futuristic world (one of the main tenets of my thesis after all was how well Cindy does in alternate genres), I was. Each of these tales was cleverly re-imagined for the world that Meyer had built. Scarlet became a farmer whose grandmother goes missing just as a “lone wolf”- type character appears in the local street fighting ring. Cress is a computer genius shut inside a satellite where she can monitor and hack the earth’s systems for the Lunar crown (bonus? her hero ends up blind for awhile – gotta love when they use the old school versions of the fairy tales). Winter is the stepdaughter of the evil Lunar queen, scarred by an attack by her stepmother and yet still more beautiful than her, who is felled by a plague-laced treat.
With each book, the heroines’ tales were woven together until Winter’s story where the Lunar queen (SPOILER) meets her defeat at the hands of them all. I am glossing major details and plot development here mainly because you need to read these books so I don’t want to spoil them too much for you. I adore all 4 heroines and their heroes (check plus to Meyer for also never having a love triangle, square or any other shape) but I will admit to loving Scarlet best which surprised me, she’s not from my favorite fairy tale, but I adored her story and her character as well as her relationship with the other characters especially Winter. She turns into the big sister for the group in a lot of ways and she is never afraid to tell it like it is.
If nothing else, I haven’t seen a series this well edited in a long time. As I work my way through book series this year, I am finding the longer they go, the more they unravel. The author clearly loses sight of where they want to go or they forget their own mythology (BIG pet peeve of mine, not only in books but in TV shows). Meyer never does this and, even though the books grow in page number, they never drag. I can’t think of one chapter, one scene that could be removed. Everything had a purpose towards the final conclusions and that my friends, is very impressive to me. I also must give a slow clap to Meyer for resisting an epilogue. These have not proven to work well (though I kinda like the Harry Potter one even though I know I will go down in people’s estimation for admitting to that) and it wasn’t needed here. Meyer very brilliantly went with “and they lived happily ever after” because, let’s face it, how else do you end a fairy tale? Even one that includes space ships, cyborgs, genetically modified soldiers and trips to the moon.