In light of the anticipation of a new Star Wars movie with many original cast members, this reviewer (who has been a fan of the films since their first appearance) would like to introduce readers to a sci-fi series that will have readers enthralled. So many of the themes and elements that have made the flicks memorable abound in these blockbuster stories: family secrets, discovered identities, the struggle against an evil, all-powerful monarch, nonstop action, surprise revelations, narrow escapes, a bit of romance, and even droids with personality. The ingenious incorporation of well-known fairy tale characters (with a twist) is icing on the cake. So, without further ado, here is an introduction to this series. Move over, Star Wars.
The heroine of the inaugural tale in the series is an unusual teen. She is a master mechanic, an orphan living with a stepmother and two stepsisters, and a girl whose body is not entirely her own. For Cinder is a cyborg: a human with artificial parts (including eyes that cannot cry but display news feeds and information on demand) making up a large part of her anatomy. As her story opens, Cinder, viewed as something less than human by many, is attaching a better-fitting foot brought by Iko, her droid sidekick with a personality to rival C3PO’s. Who should choose this awkward moment to visit her shop but Prince Kaito, heir to the throne of the Eastern Commonwealth. His own droid is not functioning, and he has heard of her stellar reputation. During his conversations with the mechanic, he mentions an upcoming ball–and invites Cinder to attend. The romantically-inclined Iko is thrilled at the prospect, but Cinder does not share her enthusiasm.
However, there is little time to dwell on Prince Kai’s offer. Another shopkeeper is stricken with letumosis, a mysterious, fatal disorder. As the patient is removed to a quarantine facility, the panic grows, and the emperor himself falls victim. And one of Cinder’s stepsisters, the only family member with whom the teen has a positive relationship, develops the telltale rash. The girl’s distraught mother exercises her right as guardian and “volunteers” Cinder as a research subject in the search for a cure (a fate shared by many cyborgs). Angry but resigned to her fate, she is puzzled when palace researcher Dr. Erland discovers that Cinder is immune to the pathogens injected into her body. And that’s not all, for genetic analysis reveals that she is a Lunar, a race of people who have set up a civilization on the moon. The confused teen learns something even more earth-shaking: as Prince Kai is crowned Emperor, Cinder uncovers the plan of the evil, all-powerful Queen Levana of Luna to murder the new monarch. Can she discover a way to warn Emperor Kai before it is too late?
Debut author Marissa Meyer has penned an edge-of-your seat thriller that is a masterful reworking of the Cinderella story. She effortlessly ties all the threads of Cinder’s tale into an impressive tapestry. The reader is privy to the thoughts, internal struggles, and dreams of all the players in a tale that so effectively sets the stage for the future volumes in the series.
Published by Feiwel & Friends in 2012
Read more reviews and buy Cinder on Amazon: Cinder: Book One of the Lunar Chronicles
Readers enthralled by Cinder’s story will be mesmerized by the tale of Scarlet, a strong-willed and devoted young lady who sports a red hoodie. Our heroine lives in a world far removed from the Eastern Commonwealth that Cinder called home: a thriving produce farm in the French countryside. Scarlet is in a quandary: her grandmother, former lunar pilot Michelle Benoit, has not been seen for two weeks. As the police do not take the elderly lady’s disappearance seriously, the young woman takes it upon herself to discover her grandmother’s whereabouts. Enter a mysterious young street fighter named Wolf, who appears to know something about Grand-mere’s disappearance and those who have abducted her. Although Scarlet is not sure she can trust him, she joins forces with the stranger. As the pair travels in search of her grandmother, Scarlet learns about the elderly lady’s adventurous past. What’s more, the heroine discovers a link between that past and Linh Cinder, the young woman who has escaped from prison and is the object of an intensive manhunt.
The scene now shifts to Cinder, who has learned that she is Princess Selene, the rightful heir to the Lunar throne (and who supposedly died years before). The young cyborg is also aware of the connection with Michelle Benoit, and enlists the help of charismatic fellow escapee Carswell Thorne in her quest to find the retired pilot.
Meanwhile, back at the castle, newly-crowned Emperor Kaito is making the transition from prince to monarch as he struggles to deal with the threats to his nation and the world. Not the least of the challenges he faces are the matter of Queen Levana and how to defuse the growing tension between their kingdoms. As the Lunar monarch exerts greater control over Earth, and puts the pressure on the Eastern Commonwealth to find Cinder and remove a threat to her reign, Kai makes an agonizing decision that he hopes will restore peace to the planet.
As the narrative alternates between the stories of Cinder and Scarlet, and the young heroines meet, their intertwined stories and shared goals will keep readers turning the pages–and at the edge of their seats. The added layers that Scarlet and Wolf bring to the multi-faceted series will have readers eagerly anticipating the continuation of the adventures of this diverse group of reluctant heroes.
Published by Feiwel & Friends in 2013
Flying high above the earth in her isolated satellite, Cress’ only contacts with the human world are her netscreens and the Lunar official she calls Mistress. Confined to this space since childhood, the teen has honed her computer skills to the extent that she is a first-class hacker. Cress is coerced into using this talent to serve Queen Levana’s purposes, including making it possible for Lunar vessels to fly to Earth undetected. To her horror, she discovers that these ships carried ruthless killers responsible for the deaths of 16,000 Earthens. And now Mistress Sybil expects her to locate Linh Cinder, the person Cress has been trying to contact in the hopes of thwarting Queen Levana’s evil plans for world domination.
When Cinder finally communicates with the exiled girl, she and her companions attempt a daring rescue. While their endeavors earn Cress her long-hoped-for liberation, it comes at a price. Separated, the freedom fighters must find a way to reunite and prevent Emperor Kai from going through with a marriage alliance with the Lunar monarch. Privy to the knowledge of Levana’s true intentions (murder the young ruler and usurp his throne as the next step in conquering Earth), the group devises an ingenious plan. Can they succeed in making sure the ill-fated marriage never takes place?
Marissa Meyer’s third novel in the blockbuster Lunar Chronicles ratchets the tension to new levels. As Cinder and her companions make discoveries about themselves and each other, they find themselves poised to not only save Earth but bring down an invincible monarchy. The imaginative blend of traditional fairy tales and science fiction is sheer genius. Readers are sure to impatiently await the publication of Fairest, the next chapter in the saga.
Published by Feiwel & Friends in 2014
Read more reviews and buy The Lunar Chronicles on Amazon: Cinder: Book One of the Lunar Chronicles
Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles, Book 2) (The Lunar Chronicles)
Cress (The Lunar Chronicles)