I wanted to like The Lunar Chronicles…but I didn’t

computer on a desk with a coffee cup

Folks, I was so excited to read Cinder, Scarlett and the rest of The Lunar Chronicles when I found out about the series.

I mean, what’s not to like!??! The premise and the world that was built is really fantastic.

I love that Marissa Meyer (by the way, I love many of her other books, so this isn’t an outright author bash) went out on a limb with this world, taking a risk by adapting fairy tales that we all know (Cinderella, Red Riding Hood) and modernizing them into more of a science fiction adventure.

I had seen lots of reviews online from other readers who just really loved the series. When I found it at the library, I remember grabbing the first two books from the shelf because I just KNEW that I was going to be ready right away to read the second one.

Guess I got ahead of myself a little bit.

girl sitting in the grass wearing a dress and hat, reading a book

The Lunar Chronicles Review (My Take)

Cinder (the Cinderella character) is a cyborg. Part human, part machine, and totally confused and lost. Like the fairy tale, Cinder lost her mother when she was young, and her father figure is taken from her when she is close to grown, leaving her at the mercy of a step-mother who really doesn’t like her all that much. the stepmother forces Cinder to work for the family, and takes all her earnings.

Cinder is a undesirable cyborg, (like Cinderella is a undesirable servant). Cinder is made of metal, might be an alien, might be royal, can’t cry a single tear, has a computer in her brain, repairs things, and was never meant to be anyone’s servant. And like the story, despite all of her faults, Cinder catches the eye of a Prince.

The cyborg stuff is cool. The threat of the infectious disease is cool. The interaction with the aliens who threaten the safety of their world is pretty darn cool.

This book should have been awesome.

But it just wasn’t. I feel like I was presented this beautiful cake, covered in amazing buttercream frosting, but when I went to eat it, the taste just wasn’t quite right. Like someone had added too much salt.

Cinder is an appealing, likable character. I love that she is a mechanic, that she is strong, that she has skills.

I don’t like the Prince. His character needs developing, and he is sort of whiny and helpless and annoying.

Yes, I know the Prince and Cinderella fall for each other in the fairy tale…but why on earth would he do so in a modern sci-fi at first sight?

It just seems like their interaction, their developing interest in each other, the depth of his feelings….it all seems really contrived. No substance. It just sort of happened, without any reason.

The political maneuvering had a lot of potential to be really interesting (between the alien brainwasher and Prince Kai) but it was never really developed. Again, good ideas, but not a lot of substance.

I thought the first book in the series really started out strong, and my initial enjoyment carried me through the end of it, though I was already losing my excitement.

I had enough momentum to start the second book in the series, Scarlett. I probably read about half to three-quarters of Scarlett. When things didn’t seem to get any better (or more substantial, I gave up).

woman sitting in a chair reading in front of a bookcase

What age group is the book Cinder for?

I would recommend Cinder for mature, late tweens/early teens. And perhaps this is why I didn’t love Cinder. It probably isn’t quite the book for a grown up woman with a taste for complex language and intricate detail.

I think the contrived romance, combined with Cinder’s unique characteristics and abilities, would be just the book for a maturing reader looking to move into adult sci-fi/fantasy.

Does Cinder have romance?

As discussed above, the book Cinder does have romance. However, most of the “romance” in the book is interest from afar, as Cinder likes the Prince (and he seems to like her). But they don’t really spend hardly any time together, and the book ends without Cinder and the Prince resolving or really exploring any of their initial feelings towards each other.

The book does not contain any graphic or adult language as it relates to the relationship between the main characters (as you sometimes see in YA books). Other reviewers rate this book as being appropriate for readers aged 12 and up, and I concur in that rating, though mature younger readers might enjoy it.

Cinder Parent Review

As a parent of three, I have only a few things to add to this review. As noted above, the book does not contain any sort of graphic language or adult descriptions of the characters’ relationships. The book does have quite a bit of action, but does not contain terribly graphic depiction of killing or death, which you sometimes see in YA books.

As far as giving this book to my children, I do think it is pretty fluffy. It is more of a kids beach read than a “learning” type novel where your child will get pushed to learn new words and develop language. The concept is a good one, but the book just doesn’t really deliver on its promise.

I don’t think this is a book that many boys would enjoy, as it is written from a girls’ point of view, and talks a lot about boys, getting presents from boys, getting dressed, and pretty clothing.

As far as giving kids books to develop their mind, I’d be happier putting A Wrinkle in Time in my daughter’s little hands than Cinder.

Wrap Up

Like I said above, I like Marissa Meyer as an author, and respect her attempts to write ad publish books that are creative and different. I really did enjoy her unique Renegades series (all three books) where she explored a world where superheroes with superpowers actually existed. (Renegades, Arch-Enemies, and Supernova).

The main character, Nova, had legit superhero abilities, and a legit reason to be a supervillan. There was a good balance between action, teen romance, world building, and overarching ethical themes.

If you felt as I did that Cinder had promise but failed to launch, try her Renegades books. I think you’ll like them.

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