Friday, June 19, 2015

The Lunar Chronicles Series Review [Books 1-3] SPOILER FREE!

Hey, y'all! So today I'm going to be reviewing all 3 books that are out of the Lunar Chronicles series!

Series Overview

The Lunar Chronicles series is a four-book sci-fi dystopian series by Marissa Meyer. Each book focuses on a new main character, while including the main characters from the previous books. Individually, each book in the series is a fairy tale retelling, and they combine to create a really intriguing story about an evil queen and a large cast of characters working to bring her down. As of now, the first three books (Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress) have been published, as well as a prequel novella called Fairest. The conclusion to the series, Winter, is set to be released in fall of 2015.


Cinder

Cinder, as is probably obvious from the title and cover, is a retelling of Cinderella. Cinder takes place in the future in New Beijing, where 16 year old Cinder is a mechanic. She's also a cyborg. Because of an accident when she was younger, one of her feet and one of her arms have been replaced by metallic parts. As a deadly illness plagues humans and the relationship between Earthens and Lunar residents strains, Cinder finds her life intersecting with Prince Kai's and finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle.  

There were a lot of things that I really enjoyed about Cinder. The first was... Cinder! I thought that she was a really great main character. She's not exactly the "Cinderella" stereotype. She's intelligent and resourceful, not totally lovesick, and not willing to be walked all over. Her main purpose within the story differs greatly from the original tale, and she is a much more substantial character, which I appreciated greatly.

I actually just finished a class about German fairy tales, and that helped me to appreciate Cinder even more. The original tale's plot is easy to recognize within the book, but it never feels like it's trying too hard to remain true to the source material. The use of the original tale is never heavy handed, which was one of the best aspects of the book. The modernization is drastically different and cleverly done, and I really, really enjoyed the way that worked within the book. 

As for the world-build, I would say that it's good. The world was well-developed, but nothing stood out to me as particularly amazing or outstanding. This might partially be because some of the technology reminded me of technology I've read in other books. I'm not claiming that it stole concepts, or anything like that, I just think that it could have been slightly more creative in that aspect.

The one complaint that I did have about Cinder had to do with the foreshadowing. Obviously, we all already know the story of the original tale. However, this is separate. Some elements of the book were very heavily alluded to, long before they were revealed. And, while this didn't necessarily take away my overall enjoyment of the book, it did take away some surprises that I feel could have been clever and interesting.

Aside from a couple minor flaws, I really enjoyed Cinder and decided to give it 9 stars out of 10.



Scarlet

Scarlet, as is probably obvious once again, is a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. Scarlet mostly takes place in France and is focused upon our newest main character, Scarlet (go figure). Her grandmother disappeared shortly before the beginning of this book, and alongside a mysterious new companion named Wolf, Scarlet attempts to discover what happened to her grandmother. 

My opinions on the characters in this book are a bit more ambiguous than my opinions on the characters in Cinder. In general, I think that I would say that I like both Wolf and Scarlet, but I still feel slightly hesitant to even say that. Maybe I just haven't fully formed my opinion on them. I think I can definitively say that between all of the important characters presented within the first two books, Cinder is my favorite. With Captain Thorne (a new character introduced in Scarlet) as a close second. I thought he was annoying at first, but he's grown on me quite a bit. The guy never fails to make me laugh. 

One thing that the book did really well was integrating Scarlet's story with the continuation of Cinder's. When I started the series, I was under the impression that each novel was going to be a succinct story that all fit together to form an overarching plot, and that is definitely not the situation at all. It's clear at the end of Cinder that her story is not yet complete and that made me really curious to see how the back and forth was handled within the coming books. And, like I said, I thought that the two plots were integrated really nicely. 

Like with Cinder, the original tale is definitely recognizable, but never overbearing, which (as I said before) I really enjoyed. Overall, I enjoyed the book and had minor problems with it but decided to give it 8.5 stars out of 10 because I did not enjoy it as much as I enjoyed Cinder. I thought Cinder's plot was more exciting and its characters more interesting and just overall enjoyed it more than Scarlet.


Cress

Once again, this is probably quite obvious from the cover, but Cress is a retelling of Rapunzel. Cress has been locked within a satellite for most of her life and in that time has become a pretty accomplished hacker. She wants nothing more than to get off of her satellite, and she might have just finally discovered her way out...

So far, Cress is my least favorite character. Not just of the main girls, but of all of the lead characters. I don't hate her, I'm just not a big fan. This makes me extremely glad that the story doesn't just focus on her plot. However, I do have to mention that I did think that the plot hit a bit of a lull not too far into this book. That generally doesn't happen in this series, since there are so many different plots weaving together and even if one is a little slow, the rest have something interesting going on, but it just hit a point where all of them weren't extremely intriguing and therefore it felt a little slow. HOWEVER, that's not to say that I didn't like it-- it just wasn't quite as interesting as the rest of the book.

However, that's the only semi-negative thing that I have to say about this book, because the rest of it was awesome. Once the lull ended, the plot got really intriguing and built up more and more toward the AWESOME last 150 pages. Seriously, though, I'm pretty sure that I got through the last 150 pages in slightly over an hour. I'm a pretty fast reader, and with a book that's as easy to read as this one, I can usually get through about 100 pages in an hour. But 150, that's just crazy fast even for me. I was just so invested in what was going on because it had this great mix of action and information reveals and it just kept me on my toes and kept me flying through it. 

Once again, I also really enjoyed the way that the original tale was reworked into this story. Overall, despite the lull that I felt occurred during this one, the rest of the book made up for that and more. I decided to give it 9.5 stars out of 10 because what even was that ending?!


Overall Thoughts

I really like this series, and I can't wait to see what happens in Winter. As far as the world, it's not my absolute favorite world nor is it my favorite part of the book, but I do really like it. I think that the world was built well and subtly, without any sort of info dumping. However, some of the things within the world are slightly reminiscent of some other books I've read, and while that might not be the Lunar Chronicles' fault, it doesn't seem quite as fresh when I've experienced it within another book.

Overall, I would say that I think that the overall plot is more intriguing than any of the individual plots has been so far. That's not to say that I don't like the individual plots, but rather that the whole is better than the sum of its parts.

In general, the characters are also really great. They each have a very distinct personality, and the range of personalities within them is incredibly diverse.

In the end, this series has quickly become an all-time favorite for me, and I am now among the large group of fans who are eagerly awaiting the release of Winter in the fall.


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