Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles series takes traditional fairy tales and sets them in a futuristic steampunk world. So far there are two books in the series, reviewed below, and two more are coming.
Cinder is a sixteen-year-old cyborg living in New Beijing 126 years after World War IV. She lives with her step-mother and two step-sisters, but unlike Cinderella in the traditional tale, Cinder is friends with her younger sister. Cinder lives in a city where robots are the norm, and in her streampunk world mechanics rather than doctors perform body transplants and fix broken limbs. Being part cyborg, Cinder is an exceptional mechanic, and one day a stranger (who turns out to be none other than the prince himself!) comes by her booth to inquire about repairing his cyborg. This launches Cinder into a series of dangerous events.
I really loved reading about Cinder's world, especially the technology. The more Meyer described the way robots work, the more I became fascinated. As a robot becomes older, it has more of a personality and becomes like a member of the family! They’re maybe not as good as a dog or a cat, but definitely a cool upgrade from the robots we have today.
Another interesting aspect of this novel is how the part-human, part-machine cyborgs of this era are treated. The cyborgs are outcasts, viewed as lesser beings simply because part of them is automated or made of metal. I liked reading about how Cinder struggled to overcome that social barrier. Cinder is a telling of the traditional Cinderella fairytale with a steampunk twist that I highly recommend to any YA reader who loves a good story.
Scarlet is set in the same time period as Cinder, and in the same world filled with cyborgs, crazy inventions, and robots. Scarlet’s story, a re-telling of “Little Red Riding Hood,” is the second book in the Lunar Chronicles (please let there be more soon!). Scarlett is also sixteen years old, and has lived on a farm with her grandmother since she was small. Recently Scarlett's grandmother has disappeared, and so Scarlett goes on a journey to find her. Like Cinder, Scarlett is also a strong female character--she carries a shotgun in her back pocket, and is a complete bad ass.
On her journey she meets Wolf, and since Scarlet is another rendition of a classic fairytale, the twists and turns Meyer adds to the plot make it all the more exciting! Again, I absolutely love the steampunk world the author has created, and reading about it from the perspective of someone who is not a cyborg adds to the interest, since Cinder and Scarlett come from different social worlds. Again, I recommend Scarlet to any YA reader looking for some steampunk adventure, and I am super excited to read the next book in the series!
- Audrey Palmer Steinhauser