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The Cybernetic Cinderella

I’m not the type of person who would recommend just any book to anyone. If I am going to tell someone, particularly a stranger, to read a novel, it had better have been a good novel. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer is a whole series of those novels. Meyer has taken a number of well-known and well-loved fairy tales and twisted them into a cybernetic world torn apart by plague and war. I was rather intrigued by the idea, particularly because of the insurgence of fairy tale retellings rampant in the media. We have television shows such as Once Upon a Time combining fairy tales and many of Disney’s classical story lines into the singular world of Storybrooke. We also have films like Maleficent that refashion fairy tale villains into heroes. In light of the recent retelling trend, I feel that The Lunar Chronicles deserves a mention as one of the best retellings I’ve seen.

The series begins by following Cinder, a well known Cyborg mechanic in the slums of New Bejing as she struggles to make a living beneath the oppressive rule of her stepmother Linh Adri. Over the course of the story, Prince Kai commissions her to fix his personal android tutor, begging her for both careful preservation of the data stored in its memory files and his anonymity in the transaction. After Cinder fixes the droid and realizes what information Prince Kai wants preserved, she is drawn into Prince Kai’s efforts to avoid an interplanetary conflict with the Lunar kingdoms settled on the moon,lead by the cold and calculating Queen Levana. Cinder learns of the existence of the Lunar heir, the legendary Princess Selene that was supposed to have died many years previously in an “accidental” fire. Cinder joins Prince Kai in his search for Princess Selene in hopes of overthrowing Queen Levana and cease her threats of invasion and war.

Cinder soon joins forces with Scarlet, a fiery Earthen girl from France, Wolf, Scarlet's companion, the narcissistic outlaw Carswell Thorne, Cress, a satellite-bound computer hacker. Over the course of the series, the companions are hard matched against the manipulations and political maneuverings of Queen Levana, as well as the devastating effects of Letumosis, the horrible disease decimating the population of Earth.

Meyer does a fantastic job of weaving all the stories together in a world that is both interesting, dynamic, as well as politically, geographically, and economically well rounded. While each of the main characters story lines are based on the fairy tales, the amount of predictability for those who are familiar with those stories is well handled. While we all know what happens to Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, the Evil Queen, and Rapunzel, Meyer successfully injects each climax with enough unexpected twists that keeps the reader engaged and wondering how she will handle the next important aspect of the tale.

The Lunar Chronicles include Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, the novella Fairest, and will soon be joined by Meyer’s final installment, Winter in November of 2015.

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