From Beijing to France, with Cyborgs and Lunars

I’m waiting in line at the library for Cress, the third book in the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer.  Waiting turned out to be a good thing…because it gave me time to reread the first two books, Cinder and Scarlet.  You can click the links for my original reviews, but I thought I’d do a quick re-read review too!  (Some spoilers to follow for Cinder)  These are sci fi, but since they retell fairy tales, I’m still counting them for Once Upon a Time.

The Lunar Chronicles are set a vague but significant distance in the future. Earth has formed itself into seven countries, all at peace–but in an uneasy truce with the Lunar Colony, ruled by the cruel Queen Levana.  Lunars possess magic-like abilities to manipulate the minds of others, and no one is more powerful than Queen Levana.

Cinder is a teenage girl living in New Beijing, a gifted mechanic–and a cyborg.  Despised by society and her adoptive mother, her best friend is Iko, a robot with an overactive personality chip.  Her path crosses that of Prince Kai, shortly before the annual ball (can we see where this is going?)  At the same time, life begins to spiral out of control for both of them–Cinder’s sister is deathly ill with the letumosis plague, Cinder begins to find out startling revelations about her own past, and the death of Kai’s father forces him to take the lead in dangerous political dealings with Queen Levana.

My favorite thing about Cinder may be that she is just so level-headed.  I never understood Cinderella’s relationships in the original story, but I love how Meyer has reimagined things for Cinder.  She has no choice but to stay with her adoptive mother, because as a cyborg she’s legally property.  Cinder is fiercely loyal to her kind younger sister, and her robot friend, so we know she cares about people…but she doesn’t fall immediately under Kai’s spell.  Oh, there’s a crush going on…but she keeps perspective about it all.  It feels like how someone might legitimately feel about a near-stranger they’re attracted to.

I love a Cinderella who would rather run away and start her own life than go to some ball and dance with a cute prince.  Not that she wouldn’t like to dance with the cute prince, but she has priorities!

Oddly enough, much as I love the not-ridiculously-fast romance, it backfires to a certain extent in that I don’t find myself especially rooting for Cinder and Kai as a romantic couple.  Cinder gave us the very beginning of a romance for them…and I hope subsequent books will give us more so I can get more invested in them as a pair.

My other favorite part is Cinder’s amazing cyborg abilities–from the relatively mundane, like having a cabinet in her calf, to the really awesome like being able to detect lying.  They’re woven throughout the book in a very cool way.

Scarlet picks up right where Cinder left off.  Cinder is now a fugitive from both Queen Levana and the Earth authorities, and winds up joining forces with the dashing Captain Thorne.  In his stolen spaceship, they’re on the trail of information about the missing Lunar heir, Princess Selene.  The trail takes them to France, to intersect with our other heroine of the book, Scarlet.  Scarlet is desperate to find her grandmother, who vanished two weeks previously.  She meets Wolf, a street fighter who fluctuates between gentle and fierce, who may have a clue to her grandmother’s abduction.  Although she doesn’t really trust him, Wolf is her only help, and they set out together for Paris.

I liked Cinder, but I really liked Scarlet.  Scarlet is fiery, impulsive, and even more fiercely loyal than Cinder.  And unlike Cinder and Kai, I definitely got behind this romance.  Yes, it’s fast–yes, it doesn’t always make sense–yes, I know all that…but it just works.  Although I tend to like Brooding Heroes with Hearts of Gold (it’s a thing), so that may be a factor…

And a purely personal aspect that will probably not matter nearly as much to anyone but me–a big chunk of the book takes place in the Opera Garnier!  It’s never identified by name, but trust me, it’s the Opera Garnier, former home of the Phantom of the Opera, and Meyer clearly researched the floor plan.

With broader appeal…much as I enjoyed Scarlet’s storyline, I also enjoyed Cinder’s storyline, which kicked into a higher gear in this installment–and how can I not love Captain Thorne, roguish and charming, if not quite as charming as he thinks he is.  I have this thing about arrogant charmers too, so this book was just hitting all my favorite hero-types.

I have to say, I am even more excited for Cress now, which was kind of the point…that, and making sure I’d actually remember who everyone was when I picked up the new book!  I also snagged on to a possible clue about Cress in the first book that I’m sure I didn’t spot on a first read, and I can’t wait to find out if my guess is right. 🙂

Let’s see…#15 in line, and with 27 copies circulating, that’s not so bad!

Don’t forget, you can win a signed copy of my fairy tale retelling, The Wanderers! Just put #WanderersGiveAway in your comment to enter.  Ten days left!

Author’s Site:

Buy them here: Cinder and Scarlet

9 thoughts on “From Beijing to France, with Cyborgs and Lunars

  1. joyweesemoll

    Hopping over from Once Upon a Time VIII

    I hope that, by now, you have your hands on Cress. I really enjoyed that one, too! Now, we’ll all have to wait for the next installment.

  2. Sharlene

    I keep hearing about this series from various book bloggers, guess I ought to check it out! (back from the library catalogue search) There are 17 holds for 6 copies of Cinder. I’m now number 18!

    1. I hope they shift quickly! I had to wait in a (short) hold list for Cinder too, so apparently the new one’s release is bringing in new people to the series (or inspiring rereads, I suppose…)

  3. I’m on the wait list for Cress at my library too! I love the concept of sci-fi fairy tale retellings; the words cyborg Cinderella made me read Cinder right away!

  4. dianem57

    Sounds like these books have terrific, strong female characters, even if they aren’t entirely human! 🙂 They both portray women and their roles in a more positive light, not as the helper to the hero. The third installment will probably carry that on, too, don’t you think?

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