Imagine a futuristic world where there is life on the moon and where cyborg and android life are reality. In the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, that is the world that we enter. Once you’ve got that part understood, add in characters loosely related to well known fairy tale characters. Put it all together and you have a surprisingly satisfying series.
My 11 year old started reading Cinder because it is on this year’s middle grade battle of the books list, but she quickly decided that she had to read the entire series. I had read Cinder and Scarlet before, but for whatever reason didn’t continue on. This time, even I got sucked into the entire series, although I listened to the very well done audio-book versions.
The series starts with Cinder. Cinder lives in New Beijing, the capital of the Eastern Commonwealth with her guardian (evil step-mother) and two sisters – one who is kind and one who is awful. She is cyborg and, like the original Cinderella, Cinder is treated like a servant and made to do everything, but she is an expert mechanic and helps the family out by making money fixing things at the local market. New Beijing has been trying to form an alliance with Lunar, even though they don’t fully trust them, and at the same time, earth is being ravaged by a plague called Letumosis. Of course, the first book of the series ends with a cliffhanger. Cinder loses her mechanical foot, instead of her shoe, and is sent to prison.
As Scarlet begins, Cinder is trying to find a way to escape. Across the globe in France, Scarlet “little red” Benoit’s grandmother has gone missing and she suspects foul play. Without giving away too much, she meets Wolf, a street fighter who might have information about her grandmother. The two stories continue until Cinder manages to find Scarlet and they realize that they are both trying to unmask and take down Queen Levana.
I don’t want to give away too much of the books, but I will say this about the final two. Book three is Cress who is supposed to represent Rapunzel, trapped in a satellite since childhood with only net screens to keep her company. She is a master at hacking, but she works for Queen Levana. The final book in the series is Winter. This book takes place on Luna and Winter’s story is the one that most closely follows her fairy tale (Snow White). It is a fabulous culmination of a entertaining series.
I gravitated towards these books because I have always enjoyed dystopian books and have a fascination with new takes on fairy tales. The group of rising 6th graders that I know who have read this book for next’s year’s competition have all enjoyed it, and so have some of their parents. I believe that the Lunar Chronicles will entice a wide audience. There is some violence in the books, but nothing that a reader in 6th grade and up can’t handle. The bigger picture is that the characters are fascinating and the adventure they are taking promises a fun ride.