I bought Cinder in 2011 when I ran out of books my freshman year of college. I no longer have my original copy due to my annoyance when what I thought was a standalone ended on a cliffhanger.
It took a good friend of mine to convince me to give the series another chance.
Looking back, I don’t know why I didn’t love this series right away. The Lunar Chronicles was made for me: it’s a female-led space drama with straightforward romance, bad boys, and princesses, which is what I secretly want out of every book I read.
The intense plot of Lunar Chronicles would have had me sold but Marissa Meyer makes it with her excellent characters. I want to marry all (well, most) of the men and be all (well, most) of the women; for Meyer, I’d call that success.
Strangers who have seen me reading Lunar Chronicles ask me about it when they see my crazy reactions.
Like with Chaim Potok’s The Chosen, I’ve had to stop reading Lunar Chronicles in public. It’s rare that one series can make me cry/blush/squeal/scream with rage. Never have I been so invested in four different ships at once.
If you want to understand why I love these books, I need to introduce you to the characters. Let’s start with ladies first.
WARNING: Lunar Chronicles spoilers ahead
There’s a lot to admire in Linh Cinder.
I love the cyborg as a binary-challenging device. I also love that Cinder actually does something and kidnaps the emperor/love of her life to save the planet.
At times, I find dorky, sarcastic, relatable girl a bit too cool. There are things about her I can’t connect to, like the fact that she can remodel cars (no big) or that she carries the fate of Earth on her shoulders (whatever). There’s also the whole “burn victim with cybernetic enhancements” thing. And, as Cinder acknowledges, she’s nothing without her supporting cast; I didn’t get into the series until they were introduced.
Cinder’s character benefits from the others’ presences. Her interactions with them are what make the series interesting. Still, I like Meyer’s exploration into Cinder’s psyche as she deals with her (lack of) humanity, her new responsibilities, and the mystery of her past. I’m down for more heroines who save their male counterparts through abduction and spaceship hotwiring. Meyer has created a funny, smart protagonist that is easy to cheer on.
The little I know about Princess Winter hints that her mind isn’t a very fun place to be.
Canon states that if a Lunar doesn’t use his or her gift for an extended period of time, they will go insane. Winter’s intense hallucinations are proof of this.
“But you are crazy.”
“I know.” She lifted a small box from the basket. “Do you know how I know?”
Scarlet didn’t answer.
“Because the palace walls have been bleeding for years, and no one else sees it.”
How great a euphemism, though, does her psychosis provide? “That girl is not using her Lunar gift, if you know what I mean…”
So far, Winter terrifies me, but I’m interested to see the world from her perspective.
Also, she must be pretty cool if someone as awesome as Jacin Clay loves her.
Cress is my least favorite of the four mains. I don’t have a lot of positive things to say about her.
A lot of my dislike stems from Cress’ character type. I have a hard time not interpreting “naive and innocent” as “stupid.”
Finefinefine. Cress was trapped in a satellite by herself for 7 years. No doubt that would make for naiveté and poor social skills, but COME ON. I got tired of her wide-eyed newcomer act pretty quickly, especially since she’s a newcomer to MY PLANET. I don’t share her fascination with SAND. Cress tends to make choices that get her sold into slavery. Not surprisingly, she’s a bad judge of character. She manages to convince herself Carswell Thorne is a virtuous soul. Carswell Thorne. The Lunar Chronicles version of Han Solo and Mal Reynolds. Virtuous.
Two other counts against Cress: she doesn’t like Iko and she doesn’t trust Wolf. As I love Wolf with every fiber of my being, this last part is offensive to me.
Lastly, Cress thinks she lives in a romance novel. She fantasizes constantly that she’s an opera singer, a beautiful actress, an adventurer… Reading Cress’ POV chapters was like watching “UHF,” only not as fun.
Thankfully, Wolf doesn’t like Cress much either, resulting in one of my favorite scenes:
Wolf was scowling at a mirror and trying to pat down his unkempt hair. He wore an impeccably fitted tuxedo with a classic white bow tie and pressed lapels.
He caught Cress’s eye in the reflection, and she couldn’t help but stand a little straighter, but though his gaze skimmed over her, he had no reaction whatsoever.
Deflated, Cress clasped her hands. “You look great, sweetheart.”
He did, in fact, look like a romance hero, all muscles and edges and chiseled bone structure. He also looked miserable.
Suddenly nervous, Cress gave a little twirl, displaying her full regalia.
Wolf only gave her a crisp nod. “The hover is waiting.”
She let her hands drop to her sides, resigned to the fact that Wolf would dress for his role, but he would not play it. “Right. You have the invitations?”
He patted his breast pocket. “Let’s get this over with.”
I lovelovelove Cinder, but Scarlet is my favorite heroine as sole representative of Team Normal.
Scarlet is 1/4 Lunar, but she doesn’t have–or hasn’t yet exhibited any signs of–the Lunar gift. Unlike Cinder and Michelle Benoit, Scarlet can be manipulated by Lunars. I appreciate Scarlet because I know how useless I would be in these intense situations. Scarlet has more weaknesses than the other characters and still manages to be SO COOL.
Shooting thaumaturges? Like a boss.
Flying ships? Of course.
Withstanding mental torture and chopping off her own finger to defy Lunar royalty? You bet.
Rescuing her grandma? …well, she tried.
I’m sad there wasn’t more of Scarlet in Cress, something I hope will be remedied in Winter. Less Cress! More Scarlet!
Each of these ladies gets me pumped to save the galaxy, and each one has a hot male counterpart to help them do so. I can’t wait to talk about the men…