Ok, so here’s the deal: I’ve just zipped through the whole of Cinder, Scarlet and Cress by the wonderfully talented Marissa Meyer- and by ‘zipped through’ I mean I’ve read them (at the speed of light) in about two weeks because they are SO DARN GOOD. The first three books of Meyer’s bestselling Lunar Chronicles Series, each novel takes a classic fairytale heroine as its protagonist- here Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, and Rapunzel, and thrusts them with a bang right into the 21st century- in fact, I figure from reading these books that they actually could be set in the century after ours- in a completely futuristic, hyper-modern world built on a foundation of all-pervasive technology. It’s part fairytale, part dystopian Big Brother nightmare.
Am I getting ahead of myself? Uh, probably. Ok, to break it down, Cinderella- yep, the one with the big yellow bun and the big blue dress and the pet mice- has now morphed into Linh Cinder (known as Cinder,) a tough, clever part-cyborg mechanic who leads a semi-servantile life in technology-crazy ‘New Beijing’. (As it is now known.) Her best friend is a (hilariously gossipy) android named Iko, and her pumpkin carriage is a rusty orange hover car. The society in which she lives- although sophisticated and startlingly modern- is dominated by two major fears: that of ‘Lunars’- people from the Moon who have mysterious mind-control powers, and the fear of ‘letumosis’- a deadly and quickly-spreading plague. The Lunars are led by the evil, ruthless Queen Levana, whose ultimate scheme is to marry New Beijing’s highly-eligible Prince Kai, and steal the kingdom of Earth for herself. Into this mix is also thrown Scarlet Benoit, (aka Red Riding Hood,) a red-haired waitress living on her grandmother’s farm in Rieux, away from Cinder’s futuristic city, and Cress, a young, vulnerable but staggeringly clever hacker, imprisoned on a satellite instead of a Rapunzel-tower. Still following me? Well then, here are the pros:
-The descriptions (e.g. of Iko, and Cress’s limited life within the satellite) are wonderfully vivid and well researched
-Each new take on a character feels fresh and new
-Queen Levana is intriguingly dark, and the humour between characters such as Cinder and Iko, and Scarlet and the moody streetfighter Wolf, is wonderful and zingy.
-The plot speeds along nicely, and I loved how each character’s paths criss-crossed
-I also loved all the clever little fairytale references, e.g. Cress’s long, long blonde hair, (because no sharp objects, like scissors, are allowed within her satellite,) Cinder’s Cinderella-esque gloves, Scarlet’s red hoodie.
-I also loved how clearly badass Scarlet’s grandmother is.
-I liked the mystery surrounding Levana’s niece (and rightful heir to the Lunar Throne,) Princess Selene. Presumed dead, yet people still hope she’s alive…what’s happened to her? Ooh, mysterious…
-Prince Kai just felt a little…*wah wah WAAAAH… sad trombone music* for me. If I’m honest, I was a bit bored by both him and (SPOILER!!!!) the insta-love between him and Cinder.
-(SPOILER!!!) All the sciencey stuff- like the Lunars’ ‘bioelectric’ powers- went over my head at points. (I want to get to the fight scenes, dammit!)
All in all though, I really REALLY enjoyed these books, and I can’t wait to get started on Winter (which is, if you didn’t already know, based on the tale of Snow White,) and Stars Above, Meyer’s short story collection. Who will win in the end? Will Queen Levana get killed off? Will she turn even creepier? Will Wolf ever EVER truly smile? Will he ever eat anything other than tomatoes? I’m looking forward to finding out….
Overall rating: 8 out of 10.