This YA fantasy series is out of this world! A delightful combination of clever fairytale retellings, The Lunar Chronicles features strong female characters, action, adventure, and romance—all with a campy ‘gangs-all-here’ vibe. Did I mention the elusive Asian hero? And the banter is so much fun! Marissa Meyer delivers in every book of this completed series, making each more fun than the one before.
One aspect of this series I want to highlight is the friendships. The heroines—all of whom are talented in their own ways—have deep, meaningful relationships with each other, not just the love interest in their life. And that’s too rare in YA.
Sure, there are love interests and the romance is well done. No pesky love triangles here! More importantly, if I was old enough to have a teenager as a daughter, I would be comfortable giving all of these books to her. The juicy bits never go too far and that’s really good to see.
So here’s the breakdown (no spoilers!):
The series premise is that the Levana, the evil queen of Luna (aka the moon) has a strong “Lunar gift,” which allows her to manipulate people, and she is plotting to take over earth. That’s obviously a problem, especially since few are immune to her power.
Cinder, The Lunar Chronicles #1
The twist in this futuristic retelling is that Cinder (aka Cinderella) is a cyborg. She is also the best mechanic in New Bejing, which is how she meets the hot Asian prince who needs her help. She has a wicked stepmother and her best friend is an android named Iko. Iko has a “faulty” personality chip—as in, she has way too much of it. She’s so loveable! Hijinx ensue. There is a ball, a state visit from the evil Lunar queen, and a shocking revelation at the end.
Scarlet, The Lunar Chronicles #2
Scarlet is a tough, no-nonsense, ginger farm girl who doesn’t take crap from anyone. She wears her favorite hoodie sweatshirt every day (red riding hood). The action starts when her grandmother gets kidnapped. Scarlet’s determined to get her back. She hires a street fighter named Wolf to help her with work on the farm while she investigates. He is fierce, somewhat feral, fascinated by vegetables, and (predictably) good looking. He also has a secret. When Cinder shows up, the original team grows by two as they unite in a common goal.
Cress, The Lunar Chronicles #3
Now we’re getting farther into the series and I don’t want to spoil the plot. The things I like most about Cress (aka Rapunzel): the romance she daydreams about doesn’t match up to reality. She is infatuated with a guy she’s read about online but when she meets him in person, she discovers that he’s not the perfect hero she believed him to be. Will she still feel the same when she gets to know him for real? Cress also finds strength within herself and acts heroically by using skills that do NOT include brute force or perfect hand-eye coordination, which is so overdone. Instead, she’s smart and phenomenal with computers, and she uses her powers for good.
Fairest, The Lunar Chronicles #3.5
In this eye-opening novella, we get the Levana’s origin story from her point of view. How did she become the evil queen? I was skeptical about this addition to the series because Levana is just so unlikeable, but I was pleasantly surprised. I found it fascinating. Meyer manages to provoke a modicum of sympathy for Levana while maintaining her core identity as a villain. Not an easy feat.
Winter, The Lunar Chronicles #4
This all-out, gang’s-back-together, action-packed series conclusion is incredibly satisfying. We get the additional point of view of Winter, the step-daughter to the evil queen. The princess has been driven mad by refusing to use her Lunar gift, which is heartbreaking and noble and never annoying or hard to read. She just sees things that aren’t there. But she’s got a good heart—she’s beautiful and white as snow, which she’s never seen since she lives on the moon. Her guard Jacin’s devotion to her is unwavering and the Lunar people adore her, much to the evil queen’s dismay.
Stars Above, The Lunar Chronicles
I typically don’t care for short stories, but this anthology is fantastic! Meyer gives us a fun, deeper glimpse into the backgrounds of some her most beloved characters, and delivers what every fan wants: a wedding. But whose?
This is absolutely and series worth starting—and finishing!
What’s your favorite YA series? What’s do you like most about it? Let me know in the comments.
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