I know that’s a word no artist wants to hear used to describe their work. No one wants to think that their time, devotion, love went into creating something cliche. Something that is at best a regurgitation of a well loved model and at worst predictable and boring.
The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer falls somewhere between those two, leaning more towards the former. I will be reviewing these books together as they need to be taken as one, unfortunately by the time Winter comes out many details may not be fresh so it will get it’s own review. These books are the story of a young cyborg named Cinder and her band of merry-misfits trying to save the world. Each books introduces a new heroine and subplot and they all utilize and follow the basic story of some of our (read: my) favorite fairy tales; Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and Rapunzel.
Now young adult isn’t a genre I usually read. In fact I steer quite clear most of the time. I admit I’m prejudice but they all tend to follow the same pattern: there is a barely unique plot encasing the story of our lead female, she has maybe one personality trait but everything else in her life revolves around the fact that she is more or less ‘broken’. She meets our lead male; he has some kind of ‘manly’ hobby or trait that takes up most of his personality but he’s also shy, at least around her, and lead female believes this shyness is in conflict with his other ‘manly’ trait. Of course he is also sufficiently ‘broken’ and they start to believe they can be ‘broken’ together. They kiss (or fuck, depends on how graphic your novel is) but then they are pulled apart by something. In their separation they realize they are only regressing into their brokenness but then something brings them back together (usually the resolution of the encasing plot-line that serves no purpose but to add the veneer of individuality to the story) and they live happily ever after. At the risk of sounding like a broken record it’s all a little too cliche for my liking.
And that isn’t the only problem i have. I mentioned the characters above and I really do notice that YA fiction tend to write characters that, if not completely one dimensional, are basically cube drawings on a sheet of paper. At first glace they may appear 3-D but look harder and you realize there is no depth.
Now how does all of this tie into The Lunar Chronicles? Take a wild guess. If you’ve read the books you will understand where I’m coming from if not I don’t want to spoil you but SURPRISE the romantic subplots and the character development is the exact same as every other YA novel you’ve ever read before. The romances don’t seem real, they seem cute. The male characters have about as much character development as a nail, if that nail were only focused on it’s true love and barely had time for other thoughts. The females are a bit better, it is their book, but still. Scarlet and Wolf are the worst offenders. She has a single personality trait and that is spit-fire. Even when she is experiencing other emotions they never seem to come through as much as her ‘bad-girl’ attitude does. Wolf is pretty much the same, he has two settings; kill all the things and love Scarlet. You now know literally everything you need to know about them. You’re welcome.
“WE GET IT” I hear you shouting, “YOU HATED THE BOOKS”
I adore these books. Every book is going to have negatives but sometimes they don’t overshadow the positives and I think the positives make these books worth the read. The over arching story-line is fantastic and surprisingly unique for what it is. I mentioned above that these are fairy-tale retellings, one of my favorite sub-genres, and Meyer does an amazing job weaving the classic tales into this world she has created. Many fairy-tale based books can fall into the habit of trying to fit so closely to the original narrative that they become predictable and while Meyer is not wholly innocent here she does a MUCH better job than many I’ve read. The classic elements are interpreted in interesting ways giving the books a texture that I wasn’t expecting and many of our favorite characters take on roles that you may not see coming (Why yes, the fairy godmother is an elderly doctor. Who knew!)
Meyer pieces together this story with so many different elements and she does a damned good job of it. The world and culture building is beautiful and complex. The forshadowing (while at time glaringly obvious) is well placed and make fun clues for you to find and piece together. My favorite little Easter egg is the naming themes. I love names and it didn’t take me long to realize that just about every name in this book is purposeful and meaningful. I really don’t want to spoil you here so i’ll only point out some obvious ones but please when you read these books pay attention to the names. Download a name meaning app on your phone and look up every named character. It’s worth it I promise. The most obvious ones are the Lunars; all of the female names mean ‘Moon’ or has something to do with the moon. If you know anything about the original tales knowing names can also help you group who goes to what story more effectively.
- 1- Don’t Read
- 2- It’s Good
- 3- Read
- 4- Highly Recommend
- 5- Must Read
I have been recommending these books to many people over the past couple of weeks. They are fun and enthralling and even though I’m almost 100% positive how it’s going to end i still WANT to read and find out. These are not literary masterpieces, but they are enjoyable. They will make you feel the feels, they will keep you turning the page. I binged these books and when i had to work and could not read I thought about these books. i currently have Fairest by Marissa Meyer sitting by my mouse pad just waiting for me to finish typing. I’ve preordered Winter and November can’t come fast enough!
Oh and P.S. if you are planning to read these or have read them don’t forget to check out the bonus shorts you can find them on Wattpad.com 🙂