THE LUNAR CHRONICLES: REVIEW, RECAP, AND PREDICTIONS
Hello and welcome to a post that I didn’t think was actually going to happen. Considering that I only decided that I was actually going to take the plunge reread the first three books of The Lunar Chronicles three or four days ago, I’m surprised that I’m typing this. (Although, to be fair, Winter technically comes out in three hours in my country and is probably out in others already, so this is pretty last-minute. STRESSCITEMENT!)
The basic idea of this post is that I’m going to pretty much spew all of the possible Lunar Chronicle information in my brain at y’all in one post. It will begin with a spoiler-free review of the entire series for you newbies who have no idea what I’m talking about and then go into a very spoiler-y quick recap of the entire series for those of you who need to refresh your brain but don’t want to attempt to read the entire series quickly before the last book comes out, as I did. Finally, I’ll go into my predictions which will probably prove to be completely wrong, but they should be fun. Again, those will be spoiler-y. You’ve been warned.
Grab a snack. This is going to be a long one.
As this is a review of an entire series instead of just a single book, it obviously can’t be done in the same way as my past reviews. I also can’t really go into too much detail about each individual book without spoiling them for you, can I? And you know that this review is going to end with all of the books receiving five stars, because I wouldn’t have spent the time reading them for a second or third time if they weren’t fantastic books. So in this review I’ll provide you with the basic gist of the plot and then 25 reasons why you should read The Lunar Chronicles.
what is it?
The Lunar Chronicles is a four-book sci-fi/steampunk/dystopian/retelling series written by the incredibly talented Marissa Meyer. Each story is a retelling of a different fairytale but they somehow all intertwine. The first book, Cinder, retells Cinderella; the second, Scarlet, retells Little Red Riding Hood; the third, Cress, retells Rapunzel, and the last book, released tomorrow(!), is called Winter and retells Snow White.
In the first book we are introduced to Cinder, our main character who lives in a futuristic Beijing where a deadly plague ravages the land and the people live in fear under the watch of the Lunar people – an enemy kingdom of evil people with magical powers that live on the moon. They’re lead under the rule of Queen Levana, a sick leader who plans to take over the world and its people, if the plague doesn’t kill them all first. But Cinder has a special weapon against the queen and the plague… one that she doesn’t even know she possesses yet.
Also, the Emperor of New Beijing is super sweet and somehow he and Cinder cross paths. Guess what happens from there?
25 reasons why you should read the lunar chronicles
- Sassy cyborgs
- Strong female characters
- Strong male characters
- Betrayal of betrayals
- Sneaky references back to the original fairytales that will blow your mind
- Three super ship-able couples
- (And probably one more to come)
- Captain Thorne… just Captain Thorne
- Rotating POVs told from third person narratives (and done well!)
- Guys chasing after the girl in the relationship instead of always the other way around
- Characters logically thinking instead of always just “following their heart” to go after their bae
- Unique settings
- An awkward, mildly stalker-y fangirl character
- Hilarious dialogue
- Terrifying villains
- Fast-paced plot
- Fantastic character development
- Characters that you love to hate
- Pretty covers (hey, it counts)
- A novella that actually adds something to the series
- Characters with such varying personalities that you could tell them apart just from their dialogues
- A bunch of different family relationships (instead of like most books, where everything is horrible or everything is perfect)
I could go on, but I’m sure that by now you’d rather just start reading The Lunar Chronicles instead of 25 more reasons…
From this point on, expect the post to be filled with spoilers. I can’t guarantee what you’ll see if you continue scrolling, so unless you have read Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, I would recommend exiting the post. Go read The Lunar Chronicles, and then come back! Trust me, you won’t regret it. (Also, the first two books are $2.99 for Kindle right now. Take advantage of it!)
This section will serve to refresh your memory on all the books before we go into Winter. I’ll try to be as detailed as possible but there’s no way to know what minuscule details from the previous books might become incredibly relevant in Winter. Still, hopefully this will help you be slightly less confused as we start the 800+ page masterpiece that is Winter.
Cinder: Safely back in the Rampion spaceship. Prepared to start a revolution on Luna and come forward as Princess Selene.
Kai: Recently kidnapped (more like rescued) from what was about to be his wedding with Queen Levana. When he woke up on the Rampion he yelled at Cinder for a while and then found out that she was Princess Selene. They kissed. It was pretty adorable.
Scarlet: After being abducted by Head Thaumaturge Sybil during the rescuing of Cress, she was handed over to Princess Winter who asked to keep her as a pet. This prevented Scarlet from having to slowly cut off her own fingers during questioning, but Winter is kind of crazy and the Queen’s step-daughter. Still, Scarlet starts to question Winter’s alliances at the end of the book after she provides Scarlet with “her favorite candy” which, when Scarlet eats it, relieves her of all her pain.
Princess Winter: Crazy due to the fact that she’s refused to use her Lunar powers ever since she learned how to control them. She’s also very worried about her lover or best friend, Jacin, who she obviously cares very much about. Scarlet told her that Jacin was dead because Scarlet is kick-butt like that.
Jacin: Not actually dead, at least that we’re aware of. If you don’t remember, Jacin was a guard who betrayed Sybil during the rescuing of Cress and joined Cinder’s gang of misfits. At the end of the book, he has been found by one of Queen Levana’s guards and was accused of betrayal (he pretended – or did he? – that he was under Cinder’s control and shot Sybil), but he denied it. After his facts weren’t quite adding up, Levana made the decision to take him back to the moon for further questioning.
Levana: Still super evil. Literally attacking everything in her rage at not being married. Levana isn’t the type of girl who gets over a break-up with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. Oh, no. She has to wipe out the entire human population.
Thaumaturge Sybil: Tortured during the rooftop escape by Cinder until she went crazy and eventually died. That’s what she gets for being psychotically evil, right?
Iko: In a fancy new android body and very happy about it. Sarcastic and human-like as ever, and thoroughly in love with Prince Kai. Awkward.
Wolf: Against all odds throughout Cress, he’s alive. However, he’s completely devastated by the abduction of Scarlet and is very susceptible to mind control from Lunar thaumaturges, which turns him back into crazed wolf-man. Which is… not ideal.
Captain Thorne: FANTASTIC. I mean, he’s blind, but his character is fantastic. Dr. Erland performed surgery on him and gave him eye drops that should make his eyesight come back in a week or two. Where the story leaves off, he’s a day or two into the eye-dropping. He’s also currently involved in a very awkward but adorable romance with Cress.
Dr. Erland: While in Africa, he discovered that the Lunar shell that he was taking blood samples from was his long lost daughter, Cress. He didn’t know how to tell her so he didn’t. That is, until he was performing eye surgery on Thorne and contracted the plague. He quarantined himself but was able to see Cress one last time through the glass, telling her everything. Hours later, after Cress and crew had escaped the castle with Kai, he taunted Queen Levana to his last breath, like the amazing guy that he is.
Cress: She’s doing good, and continues to be a kick-butt hacker who can figure out the highest security systems but somehow can’t seem to figure out guys. Same, Cress, same. She’s also currently very upset about the fact that after finally meeting her dad, he died. Understandable.
- Levana is still planning to take over the world, probably by marrying Kai.
- Cinder and the gang is planning to attack Levana and friends on their home planet of Luna, which just so happens to be filled with an army of psychotic wolf-men.
- Luetomosis is mutating and now can affect Lunars as well as normal citizens. The only cure is in the hands of Levana.
- The group of people fighting to save the world are a mechanic, a wolf who changed sides but can still be controlled by the other one, a blind man, a five-foot tall shell, an android that got her head twisted off recently, and a runaway emperor.
No wonder its going to take 800 pages to sort all of this out. But… how?
I don’t even know where to start.
This book is literally going to be over 800 pages long, and I’m trying to guess what will happen? This is going to be nuts. And probably hilariously incorrect.
First off, let’s start with this new character that we’re being introduced to at the end of Cress: Princess Winter.
All we know based off of the first three books in the series is that she’s Levana’s step-daughter. If you’ve read the novella, Fairest, you know that she’s the daughter of the married man that Levana fell in love with and forced to marry her. You can imagine that Levana has mixed feelings towards this girl, who is the only memory she has of the man that she loved, but also the reminder that he did not reciprocate those feelings. I absolutely cannot wait to see more of their relationship in Winter.
She’s currently keeping Scarlet locked away as her personal pet and playmate. I don’t know if it said somewhere how old Winter is (it definitely didn’t in Cress), but she acts very young. This could be due to the fact that she’s kind of going insane because she refuses to use her Lunar powers, an admirable trait. It also could be due to just plain immaturity. No judgement here.
In Cress, the princess confides to Scarlet that she sees blood dripping down the castle walls and when she’s walking around the blood on the floors causes her to leave footprints. She’s terrified that Levana’s army will smell the blood and come after her. Creepy, right? So is she actually going insane, or does she have special powers that allow her to see things that no one else can? Because that could definitely prove to be useful.
She also gives Scarlet an apple at the end of Cress that, when eaten, makes all of her pain go away. This would certainly suggest that Winter cared for Scarlet and hoped to be her friend, although how far she was willing to go to help her is yet to be seen.
The fact that the food that cured Scarlet of her pain is obviously extremely relevant and a reference back to the original fairytale. Let’s look back on previous fairytale references throughout the stories and examine the potential retellings involving elements from Winter’s story, Snow White, shall we?
past FAIRYTALE CONNECTIONS
In Cinder: Cinder is a mechanic and often covered in dirt, much like the servant that Cinderella was. She has a step-mother and two step-sisters; the connection is obvious there. The prince takes special notice of her at the ball, enraging her family. When Cinder runs away in this story, she’s racing for her life rather than the clock, and loses her entire foot instead of just a shoe. After she escapes from prison, a manhunt begins for her, much like that of the original story.
In Scarlet: Right off the bat, Scarlet has a red hoodie. Obviously that’s a small detail, but it’s a nice touch. When her grandmother goes missing, Scarlet relies on the help of a mysterious wolf that she’s not quite sure she can trust. When they arrive to where her grandmother is being held, that wolf betrays her (although not for long – Wolf is the real MVP). Also, when Scarlet first meets with her grandmother, it turns out to be one of the Lunar wolves tricking her with his mind powers, just like how the wolf dressed up as Little Red Riding Hood’s grandmother in the original story.
In Cress: The Cress connections are actually my favorite in the series because I never originally realized just how many of them there were until I became completely obsessed with the series and I researched stuff like this in my free time. Let me break it down for you. Besides the obvious connections, like the fact that she is isolated and has long hair, did you know that in the original story, Rapunzel’s mother (then pregnant with her) became so addicted to eating this root-like plant from a witch’s garden that the witch said in exchange for an unlimited supply of the plant she had to hand her baby over to her? Did you also know that the witch discovered the prince in Rapunzel’s tower and through him out of hit, causing him to land in a pile of thorns and go blind because the thorns stabbed him in the eye? And that when the princess finally escaped from the tower and tried to find her lover again, they wandered for years in the desert before reuniting? Now, if you need some help connecting the pieces:
-Thorne’s ship, used to rescue Cress, was called the Rampion. And what does the word rampion mean? “A Euroasion plant of the bellflower family, some kinds of which have a root that can be eaten in salads.” The kind of plant that Rapunzel’s mother was addicted to.
-How coincidental that Cress’s prince was named Captain Thorne and went blind. Hmm…
-If you didn’t get the desert one, you might want to reread the hundred pages or so when Cress and Thorne are literally wandering in the desert together.
-Also (this one was foreshadowed by one of my dramatic questions) in the original story, the prince’s blindness was cured by Rapunzel crying into his eyes. When Cress was putting the eye drops in Thorne’s eye, it specifically said that he blinked in reflex, causing the drop to run down the side of his face, “like a tear”.
Also in the original story, Rapunzel and her prince also ended up having twins. Just saying.
POTENTIAL FUTURE FAIRYTALE CONNECTIONS
So what elements of the original Snow White fairytale might be incorporating into Winter? You can tell from above that Meyer has a tendency to use important aspects from the original stories, so those could be very useful to help predict what will happen in Winter. So…
- Apples?: Were the magical healing apples a one time thing to help show where Winter’s loyalties lie, or are they going to be a recurring tool for the team to use to defeat Levana? Could Levana bite into an apple with a hidden mirror inside of it and drive herself crazy from staring at herself?
- Dwarves?: Does Winter have some sort of secret little army that could help in the fight? I really hope dwarves are included in this book, as they were always my favorite element from the original story. Plus, can’t you totally see Iko falling in love with a dwarf knock-off? Maybe Sassy or Sarcastic-y? It’s gonna happen.
- The huntsmen?: I kind of think that Jacin is serving as the huntsman in this retelling. While he obviously doesn’t want to kill Winter, the original huntsman allowed Snow White to get away as well. It’ll be interesting to see if this ties into anything else with the story.
This section is literally impossible for me to make because I love all of these characters – the good and the bad – so much. Obviously since this is the last book in the series there is going to be a ton of deaths. I’ll still with what I think will happen to the main characters.
Queen Levana: Will die. She honestly has to. There’s no other way for her to stop attempting to conquer the world, unless she has a colossal change of her. She better not, though. That would be so horrifically YA. “Surprise! There’s actually no bad guys. Let’s go skipping off into the distance.”
Cinder: Won’t die. That would kind of ruin the whole plan, wouldn’t it?
Kai: See above.
Cress: Won’t die. I feel like we’ve only just met her. Besides, we need to see more of her relationship with Thorne. They’re just too cute.
Thorne: NO. HE CAN’T.
Iko: Along with Thorne, Iko is one of my favorite characters of all time. I refuse to believe that she could possibly die. She’s like the adorable little Dobby of the Lunar Chronicles. Although… ;/
Winter: She can’t die. I barely even know who she is yet!
Scarlet: I don’t imagine Scarlet dying but…
Wolf: Will die. It’s a gut feeling, guys. He’s escaped death so many times already, and now he’s entering a war. He puts so many people in dangerous situations, and eventually he’s just going to die. I love his character development and he adds such an interesting factor to the story, but one of the main characters has to go and his death makes the most sense to me. I can just imagine Scarlet realizing that even when she feels like she’s lost absolutely everything (her dad, her grandma, Wolf) she’s still surrounded by friends and she can be her own hero.
And yeah, yeah. I know it’s pretty optimistic to only predict two deaths, but I’m about to go into 800 pages of certain, bloody deaths. Allow me my peace, just for now.
SOLUTIONS TO THE ISSUES
Look, there are too many problems going on in this series for one fourteen year old girl (who has to get up for school in seven hours… I should wrap this up) to attempt to solve. However, I have a few ideas.
Ultimately, everyone is going to need the chips that Cinder’s adoptive step-father was trying out. If everyone could be made equal with those chips, most of the political and societal problems would be solved. The question is how to efficiently perform back surgery on millions of people. Maybe just have them all munch on those pain-killer apples until it’s over?
I think Levana is going to be overthrown by all of her people turning against her. Cinder will probably attempt to brainwash all of the Lunars to help her fight Levana, but when she can’t control them anymore she’ll release them, expected them to all suddenly to on her. Except… they won’t. They’ll realize that they always wanted to fight Levana anyway, and then go nuts until that jerk is dead.
Or something like that.
As for the plague, obviously an antidote needs to be massed produced, and fast, especially since everyone is susceptible to it now. I can’t imagine where they’ll be able to get all the blood needed to make it, however, without killing even more people.
Is this a lame predictions post if I leave all of the hard decisions up to Marissa Meyer herself?
Ah, well. 🙂
So there you go! There are all my last minute thoughts about what could happen in Winter – you heard it hear first! I’m sure whatever really happens will be fantastic and heart-breaking and I’M SO EXCITED.
It’s crazy to think that I could buy Winter on my Kindle and be reading it in an hour… but I have school and I want a physical copy. 🙂
Be sure to let me know your thoughts or your thoughts on my thoughts in the comments below! Let’s be super excited together.
If you have already read parts of Winter or all of it by the time you’re reading this, please be courteous and don’t comment anything that might be a spoiler. Even if one of my predictions is right or completely wrong, don’t hint at it or anything, I’d much rather find out for myself. Thank you 🙂
Thanks for reading, and enjoy Winter if you plan on picking it up ASAP like me!