The Luna Chronicles consists of four major books—Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter. Author Marissa Meyer connects each book sequentially, so it’s important to start with Cinder and read your way through to the amazing climax in Winter.
Each book is named after one of the primary female leading teens in the Luna Chronicles. First and most importantly, there is Cinder.
Cinder Linh is a gifted engineer working as a full-service mechanic in a New Beijing market. She’s considered a second-class citizen by the government because Cinder is a cyborg with a mysterious past. Or perhaps they’re jealous because she has an Internet connection in her brain with the ability to receive and send messages.
Cinder lives in Earth’s distant future when androids, cyborgs, and humans exist somewhat harmoniously. There is also a thriving civilization on the moon led by a wicked queen, Levana. (We’ll get back to her, later.)
In the first novel, Cinder, Meyer takes a familiar character, Cinderella, and turns her into a futuristic cyborg with an obnoxious stepmother, an annoying step-sister, and a beloved younger step-sister, Peony, Cinder adores. Unfortunately, Peony contracts Letumosis, a plague that has been infecting and killing Earthens for decades.
The plot is complex and includes characters like Prince Kaito, crown prince of the Eastern Commonwealth, who Cinder meets early in the novel because he has an android that needs repairs and Cinder’s the best. My favorite character is Iko, an android Cinder rescues from a storage box who becomes Cinder’s best friend. Over the course of the four books this android’s personality chip moves from android to a space ship’s auto control system to an escort droid body.
In Scarlet, we meet a French farm girl, Scarlet Benoit, who is searching for her missing grandmother. During her hunt, this futuristic Red Riding Hood meets Wolf, a mysterious street fighter who may know grandmother’s whereabouts. Wolf and Scarlet have instant chemistry, and as they travel to Paris in their search for grandma, they encounter the world’s most wanted fugitive—Cinder. The group unites in their battle for survival against their common enemy, Lunar Queen Levana.
Levana Blackburn, Queen of Lunar, is the primary antagonist in the Lunar Chronicles. She maintains control over the people of Lunar with her “lunar gift,” an ability called “glamour” that can force people to do things they really don’t want to do. Like many other Lunars, genetically mutated humans living on the moon, Levana can manipulate the bioelectricity of most people making them think her beauty is flawless.
In Cress, Captain Thorne, an American criminal, helps Cinder escape a New Beijing jail cell in book one. In the American’s stolen space vehicle, with Scarlet and Wolf along for the ride, the team encounters Cress, a teenaged girl trapped on a lunar satellite since childhood. Her only company has been computer screens, so this Rapunzel-like character is a genius hacker forced by Queen Levana to spy on Earth. Her new assignment is to find Cinder.
Fortunately for Cress, Cinder and company rescue her from her lonely fate and Cress joins the team in their combined hatred for the lunar queen.
The fourth addition to the Lunar Chronicles is Winter. Set on Lunar, this book tells the tale of Winter, Queen Levana’s stepdaughter. Like Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Winter, too, has fairytale roots, for she is like Snow White. Being far more beautiful than her lovely stepmother, Levana fears that Winter, who doesn’t need glamour to make herself gorgeous, is a potential political threat and plots her demise.
Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress eventually find their separate ways to Lunar to prevent Winter’s assassination and spoil the queen’s evil plots.
All four novels are well plotted, fast paced, with fascinating characters and descriptions that would rival any blockbuster movie’s cinematography.
If you want an especially entertaining way to enjoy The Lunar Chronicles, try listening to the audiobooks. Rebecca Soler, the vocal talent, is unbelievable. She has a unique way of portraying the different characters as she modulates her voice to fit each personality. For example, when she becomes Iko, you know its Iko without really listening to the author’s context cues.
I listened to all of Melissa Meyer’s books and was riveted. The Lunar Chronicles is one YA series you don’t want to miss. And if you’re interested in backstory, make sure you read Fairest: Levana’s Story and Stars Above.
It’s doubtful Marissa Meyer is a cyborg nor an android, but she is an imaginative writer of YA literature and a Harry Potter fangirl. Her Luna Chronicle Series has been included on the New York Times best selling list. You can learn more about her by visiting her blog.