Winter

winter

Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4) by Marissa Meyer

Winter isn’t completely the completely useless crazy princess all the nobility on Luna maker her out to be. She is beloved by the common people, something her stepmother Queen Levana has never been, and the Queen hates her for it. Winter, in turn, despises her stepmother for using her Lunar gift to permanently scar her face and not allowing her to be with the love of her life, Jacin, a palace guard. She allies herself with Cinder, Emperor Kaito, Cress, Thorne, Wolf and Scarlet as they plot to take down Levana and install Cinder as Queen of Luna. Will they be able to defeat Levana and each be able to find their happy endings? To find out read the exciting conclusion of The Lunar Chronicles! Recommended for ages 14+, 4-1/2 stars. 

I reviewed the other Lunar Chronicles books here and here, and although I ultimately loved this book, it was so freaking long I nearly gave up several times. It took me about a month to finish on audiobook, though that was with several interruptions. I mean c’mon, it was 19 discs. We’re almost getting into Game of Thrones territory here (it had 28 discs). I really think it should’ve been divided into two books as the story took so much buildup to get to the point, which was to take down Levana and install Cinder on the Lunar throne as queen. The theme of this book was about Winter, the stepdaughter of Queen Levana who has been mentioned in previous books but you hadn’t heard much about until this book, and was a reference to the fairy tale Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Winter was so flighty and weird that at first, I kind of hated her character, but as the book progresses the reader realizes that her odd behavior isn’t completely her fault. She has chosen to withhold the Lunar gift (mind control) and therefore has essentially driven herself crazy. 

I loved the character and relationship development between the couples: Kai and Cinder, Thorne and Cress, and Wolf and Scarlet. Kai and Cinder are so awkward when the book starts, probably because of the kidnapping but once he understands everything, they are too cute together and apart (especially when he is dealing with Levana). Wolf and Scarlet were interesting because she was tortured and he was genetically modified, but they are still so in love with each other no matter what has happened. Thorne and Cress are my favorite relationship and characters, aside from Cinder. Cress is very brave despite feeling insignificant all of the time. And Thorne is such a dashing rogue (very Han Solo in my opinion), though at the same time completely petrified at the thought of losing Cress, even though he can’t seem to voice it until the very end.

I found the part at the end, the face-off between Cinder and Levana in the audience room to be completely insane but fantastically written by the author. The way Levana keeps using Cinder’s friends against her physically and keeps thwarting all her attempts, even pretending to surrender; it honestly was kept on the edge of myself till the last minute wondering who was going to come out on top. Apparently there’s a short story about one of the characters getting married in the author’s book  Stars Above, so I am definitely going to check that out later. 

Scarlet and Cress

Scarlet

Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Meyer

Linh Cinder has busted out of prison in New Beijing with fellow prison Carswell Thorne in tow, and now has the entire Eastern Commonwealth, Emperor Kai and Queen Levana on the search for her. Meanwhile, in a small town in France, Scarlet Benoit is searching for her lost grandmother, Michelle, who everyone believes has run away and committed suicide. But she knows here grandmother wouldn’t do that. While looking for her, she encounters Wolf, a lone street fighter and he joins her on her search. He says he may have some information about Scarlet’s grandmother, but can she really trust him? Eventually Cinder and Scarlet’s paths collide as they find out they are searching for the same person. Can Michelle Benoit be the key to unraveling Cinder’s past and future? Will Cinder be able to escape Queen Levana and save Kai from the Queen’s evil clutches? To find out, read the exciting second volume in The Lunar Chronicles series. Recommended for ages 14+, 4 stars. 

I was excited to find out, when I picked up this second volume, that it wasn’t just the Cinderella story that was being retold, but a new one was added for each book in the series. In order to introduce Scarlet and Wolf, Cinder pretty much takes a back seat in this volume. We are also introduced to Carswell Thorne, a rakish rogue character (reminds me a bit of Han Solo) who escaped and teamed up with Cinder and whose ship she is on for the majority of the book.

This one, as you can tell from the book cover, is about Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, but with a bit of a twist. Scarlet is a teenage pilot and works on her grandma’s farm, and it is near instant attraction when she meets Wolf even if she is wary of him and his attentions towards her. I would’ve liked to hear more about the grandmother, Michelle Benoit, and her exploits involving the lunars. Wolf is a street fighter (I’m not hugely fond of this term, I would say he’s more of a fights in illegal underground matches for money – street fighter always reminds me of the video game of the same name) and engineered soldier who fights against his “programming” and falls in love with Red (aka Scarlet) almost against his will. At the same time, however, Scarlet is basically going through Stockholm Syndrome by falling in love with her captor. However, they do go through a lot together and he’s essentially being forced by the Lunars to kidnap her and take her hostage. Plus there’s just the whole sexy wolf thing, can’t explain it, it’s just there and I like it. 

Cress

Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer, narrated by Rebecca Soler

Linh Cinder, Scarlet Benoit, Wolf, and Carswell Thorne are traveling together on Carswell’s stolen ship, trying to evade the Eastern Commonwealth and Queen Levana’s troops. They also plan to overthrow Levana and prevent her army from invading Earth. Cinder and the gang are watched and aided by Cress, the prisoner of Sybil, thaumaturge to Queen Levana. She lives in a satellite orbiting earth and has been helping Cinder and the gang hide from the other lunars (especially the Queen). Cinder and the rest decide to rescue Cress but things don’t exactly go as planned. Kai in order to save his people from more deaths and destruction has reluctantly agreed to marry Levana, even though he loathes the woman. As Cinder becomes more aware of her role as Princess and how best to serve the lunar people, a daring plan forms to save Kai from marriage to Levana and stop the queen. Will they be able to succeed? To find out, read this exciting third volume in The Lunar Chronicles series. 5 stars. 

This book was a twist on the Rapunzel story, the difference being Rapunzel is a teenage girl who has been trapped in a satellite (I can’t even imagine how stir crazy she would get). She has been trapped for the past ten years by a lunar thaumaturge and forced to help Queen  Levana in all her nefarious plots against the Earthans. Cress has been saved from insanity by being able to access the Net, becoming a master hacker, and even creating a companion. Even though Cress’s character was a little sad, I thought she was a fun and spunky to the existing group of main characters. 

Rebecca Soler did a fabulous job with the narration again, especially as there are so many different nationalities in the cast of characters. I can’t believe that the author tried to kill off three main characters in the first three CDs! It made the beginning of the book super exciting and hard to stop listening to. Then there was the torture, which thankfully wasn’t as graphic as say Elizabeth Wein’s Code Name Verity (which I loved but was a bit hard to read at times). My biggest complaint with the book is the length. Thirteen disks is pretty long for a teen novel and the story was dragging a bit in the middle. It felt like the author was trying to cram too much story into one book. That being said, it was definitely action-packed and kept you on the edge of your seat and wanting to hear what happened next. 

This book was great for further character development. I really got to like Cress. She was so unused to being around anyone and to have been thrust into the situation she was so quickly and be able to adapt despite all the crazy stuff that kept happening really made me admire her. I loved the blossoming romance between Cress and Thorne, it was literally squeal-worthy! I liked Wolf as a teacher trying to help Cinder control her mind-commanding powers. He stayed mostly dark and broody the whole book, mostly because he was unconscious for a good part of it, but I loved it when he admitted to Cress that Scarlet “was his alpha, like the brightest star in a constellation.” I also loved that Kai was thinking about Cinder and secretly glad that she has evaded capture for so long, and was given some hope (despite the future prospect of being married to the evil Queen Levana) because of his thinking that Cinder was looking for Princess Selene.  And when Kai and Cinder finally got together, was awkward and fantastic (i.e. totally brilliant). 

Cinder

Cinder

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer, narrated by Rebecca Soler

Cinder is a cyborg (half machine/half 16 yr old teenage girl) living in New Beijing, in a futuristic post-World-War-IV world. She’s a droid mechanic and is visited by Kai, the handsome young prince of the Eastern province, so she can repair his android as it is “of the highest importance.” There seems to be a back story there, but Cinder is not able to determine it at the time, as she is overwhelmed by the fact the prince came to her stall. This is especially  true after the plague, called letumosis, breaks out in the bakery across the street and Cinder must flee the area. After her step-sister Peony catches the plague, Cinder is racked with guilt and her truly evil stepmother volunteers her as a test subject to find a cure for the virus. There is the threat of war from the mind-controlling glamour-using Lunar Queen Lavana which has all the world leaders, Prince Kai included, worried. Will Cinder survive the plague and find out the truth about her past? To find out, read the awesome start of The Lunar Chronicles. Highly recommended for ages 14+, 5 stars.

This book has been on my to-read list forever, so I finally took the plunge and got a copy. I am glad I did because I really enjoyed this sci-fi dystopian fairy-tale interpretation of the classic Cinderella. The narrator, Rebecca Soler, was quite good at differentiating between all the different characters and personalities (great performance). I love that the premise of the book is accepting people who are different and even loving them for it or perhaps despite the difference. The world-building was fantastic and the author really sucks your into the book from the beginning. The story is kind of hard to summarize especially when you start with “Imagine a retelling of the Cinderella where the heroine is a cyborg,” and most people don’t quite know what to think about it. But it was really easy to root for Cinder as her life did suck and meeting Prince Kai and everything that happens after really does change her life, for good or ill. Plus Prince Kai…sigh, sounds so dreamy. I kind of picture him like the sweet popular guy Kazahaya in the From Me to You anime:

Kimi Ni Todoke - From Me to You

I mean it’s obvious early on that Prince Kai digs Cinder, but she is so convinced that he is mistaken because she is a cyborg (probably because she’s always been treated like crap by her adopted mother and the older step-sister), though of course he doesn’t know that until much later. The scene in the elevator when he asks her for the second time to go to the ball with him was adorable as was her reaction. And I thought I was gonna scream (in a good way) when he brings her the present on his Coronation Day. In fact, this book made me very emotional (mostly joy though a little bit of spite for the severely evil characters, in the form or Audri and Queen Levana). Aside from Cinder, my favorite characters were Iko and Dr. Erland (even though he was a bit off in the beginning of the book, he more than made up for it in the end). I look forward to reading the next one very soon!