I love a good YA series, and I’d heard good things about the Lunar Chronicles, so I bought all 4 on my kindle and devoured them over the Christmas/ New Year period.
The series is made up of 4 main novels, and there are 2 additional books coming out tomorrow and in March. The four novels are: Cinder, Scarlett, Cress and Winter. The hook for this series is that they are all based on traditional fairy stories, but they are set at some point in the future after World War IV, where great technological advances have been made and humans have colonised the moon, which is now known as Lunar. The Lunar people are known to be ruthless, hungry for power and possess strong telepathic gifts which allow them to manipulate humans.
Cinder is the story of a 16 year old cyborg living in New Beijing, capital city of the Eastern Commonwealth. Cinder works as a mechanic to support her foster-mother and sisters. As a cyborg Cinder has very few rights, and is classed as the personal property of her foster mother; Cinder’s only friend is Iko, an android with a faulty personality chip.
The Commonwealth is having a tough time as there has been an outbreak of the plague Letumosis, also known as the Blue Fever; once infected no one survives. Cinder is working at the market place when two catalysing events take place; first the prince of the Commonwealth Prince Kai visits Cinder’s stall and asks her to fix his android Nainsi, then there is an outbreak of Letumosis in the market, leading to the whole area being quarantined whilst Cinder is still inside.
Unbeknownst to Cinder, Prince Kai’s father has contracted Letumosis in the midst of negotiations with the ruthless Lunar Queen Levana and his android Nainsi, whom he entrusted with an important mission, shut down at the same time. It is up to Prince Kai to placate the Lunar colony until his father recovers.
The fate of the two planets lies in Cinder’s hands.
Scarlet lives with her grandmother in France, where they grow organic produce on their farm to sell to local restaurants, until her grandmother goes missing. The locals and police aren’t concerned, Michelle Benoit has always been eccentric and followed her own path, but Scarlet knows her grandmother would never disappear without telling her where she was going.
Scarlet meets Wolf, a mysterious stranger who may have information about her grandmothers whereabouts, but can he be trusted? Meanwhile Cinder continues to rebel against Lunar and Prince Kai against his arranged marriage with Queen Levana.
Cress is a shell, a Lunar without any telepathic abilities. Queen Levana has ordered that all shells be killed at birth, as they are able to see through Lunar manipulation and pose a threat to her throne. Cress is a skilled hacker and was “rescued” by the Queen’s right hand Sybil Mira but was banished to a satellite orbiting between the Earth and Lunar. Cress has been stranded on the satellite since she was a small child, and her only interactions are with the ship’s computer and occasional visits from Sybil. Sybil uses Cress to spy on Earth, interfer with Earth transmissions and cloak Lunar ships from their radar.
Cress has been watching the events of the previous two novels unfold, and has secretly helped Cinder when she has been able to; in return she asks that Cinder rescues her from her prison. If Cinder can rescue Cress she will be taking away one of Lunars most important intelligence assets, but will she be able to get to Cress without alerting the Lunar fleet?
Winter is Levana’s stepdaughter; she abhors being a Lunar and refuses to use her powers to manipulate people, at the cost of her own sanity. In spite of the fact that Winter is widely believed to be insane, Levana is extremely jealous of Winter, her beauty and the fact that the people love her. Levana maintains control through manipulation and fear, but the people would willingly follow Winter through love. Can Winter protect her people without incurring Levana’s wrath, or will Levana get rid of her stepdaughter once and for all?
I found these novels really interesting and loved the parallels with traditional fairytales; Cinder is Cinderella, Scarlet is loosely based on Red Riding Hood, Cress is Rapunzel and Winter is Snow White. A lot of thought was put into how the future society would be different from now, and how it would be similar. The questions raised around cyborg and android rights were quite thought provoking, with parallels to the historical (and current) issues around race and gender.
A word of warning though, these are really long novels – Winter had 832 pages -so if you do read them you’d better settle in for the long haul.
Let me know in the comments if you have read these novels, and what you thought.