As the epic conclusion to Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles has finally been released this week, we look back at books 2 and 3 to catch up with what Cinder and the gang have been through and where they are going.
If you missed our review of book 1, Cinder, check that out here.
As the name implies, Scarlet Benoit is a retelling of Red Riding Hood. An 18 year old talented farm hand, Scarlet has been looking for her grandmother for two weeks. Her ID chip was removed and left behind, a dangerous sign of kidnapping in this futuristic world. Helping her to uncover the truth about her grandmother’s disappearance, is a mysterious stranger named Wolf. The two of them form a shaky alliance, which is constantly put to the test.
Meanwhile, Cinder works to escape from the New Beijing prison, with devastating news about her unclear past. She teams up with the dashing, arrogant thief Carswell Thorne and also is in pursuit of the missing Michelle Benoit.
When the inevitable collision of these two couples occurs, it suits both parties to join forces to uncover the truth about Scarlet’s grandmother, Wolf’s motives, and Queen Levana’s ultimate plan.
What Did I Think?
This book was my least favorite in the series, so far. Scarlet is the least enjoyable character in the Lunar Chronicles, in my opinion. Her impetuous attitude forces her to make some of the most irresponsible decisions. It continually puts herself and the people she cares about in danger. That being said, the intensity of the stakes in this sequel are raised to an entertaining level. You’re still able to predict the safety of the four main characters, but they’re no longer untouchable, as it seemed in Cinder.
Wolf is a very engaging character. From the beginning, you know there’s more to him and you are anticipating when the rest of his back story will flow out. Is he good? Is he bad? Is he faking his feelings for Scarlet? He reminds me of Wolverine, only not as overrated… yet. And even if we only know her for a short time, Michelle Benoit is intriguing to say the least.
As for Scarlet, she isn’t completely hopeless. Her character growth isn’t much in her own novel, but what she is put through in Cress has such a drastic effect on her that she will most likely be the character with the most amount of change by the time this series is over. She’s strong and tough and she doesn’t put up with a lot of crap from others. Even without any Lunar magic, she stands her ground against Levana’s forces. That’s incredibly commendable.
With Cinder and Scarlet being utter badasses, it’s easy to forget that not every woman is strong in the same way. Cress is not a badass. She’s not a scrappy mechanic who relies on her common sense to pull her through. She’s not a capable business owner tearing through Europe in the name of family. She’s a self proclaimed damsel with the intelligence and talent to shut down any Earthen or Lunar internet network, security system, or communications line in less than a few minutes. It’s why she’s been trapped in a satellite for seven years, forced to spy on the Earthen leaders for Levana and her Mistress Sybil. If you hadn’t been able to guess, Cress is an interpretation of Rapunzel.
We have actually seen Cress before. She was in one scene in Cinder, communicating to our favorite cyborg that Prince Kai was in peril. This small tidbit foreshadowed the inevitable trust that would build between Cress, Cinder, and the rest of the fairy tale misfits. While we gain Cress, we lose Scarlet during a battle against Sybil. She’s taken hostage and given to a Lunar family as a pet, tortured by Queen Levana, and then regifted to Princess Winter, Levana’s stepdaughter. Cress and Thorne are lost in the Sahara Desert, clinging to life as best they can since Thorne has been temporarily blinded and Cress hasn’t touched a planetary surface in years. Wolf is mortally wounded and placed in the care of Dr. Erland. Newcomer Jacin is aloof and rude. Poor Cinder just can’t catch a break, even for a moment. At least Iko the android gets the body she’s always wanted.
What Did I Think?
Cress brings some incredible moments and really forces the perspective of the reader. A young heroine saving the corrupt world isn’t a new concept to youth directed media, but there are enough twists in this book to still make it a real page turner. Events are serious. Characters die (I won’t tell you who, but it’s a war, people). The predictable survival of the main characters isn’t as guaranteed as it has been. Cress herself is an adorable character. I’ll never understand the negative stigma recently placed on the archetype of damsel. Aren’t we all out of our elements at times? Doesn’t everyone feel the need to be rescued once or twice? Cress plays an important role in the group’s dynamic despite feeling scared of the consequences. She’s a kind of hero not often explored in this modern world of cut and dry feminism.
What to Expect From Winter
This is the end. Named for Princess Winter, an incarnation of Snow White, the fourth book will finally see the revolution Cinder has promised us since the beginning. We’ve got four “princesses” and four “princes” all playing their parts in something much bigger than they could have dreamed. If nothing else, the finale will be entertaining above all else.
Putting aside the heavy reliance of coincidence (it’s such an easy plot when everyone is connected to everyone else already!) and the juvenile style of writing (even for a YA novel), the series is still thoroughly enjoyable. I know that’s a little difficult to believe. It reads very similarly to a fan fiction, but fan fictions are fun. And this series is fun. It’s vivid imagery gives the readers an exact picture of what the author wanted. With each paragraph you read, you’re more and more convinced this series would make incredible movies. I’m looking forward to completing the series this week and wrapping what has been a satisfying retelling of my favorite childhood stories.
The finale of the Lunar Chronicles Winter is on sale now – Barnes and Noble
Have you been following the Lunar Chronicles? What are your thoughts on the series so far? What do you hope to read in the finale? Comment below!