I started reading Cinder on November 11, 2015, and finished Winter on January 6, 2016. It took me FIFTY-SIX DAYS to read this entire series (with a slight break in the middle). And what a journey it has been.
I read The Lunar Chronicles so quickly that I didn’t end up writing full reviews for any of them. They all dovetail so smoothly with one another that I just wanted TO READ THEM ALL, not really take a ton of time to reflect on each book.
But now I’m done and I do want to discuss my feelings (I HAVE A LOT OF FEELINGS) on the books. So consider this a series review.
Cinder was a fantastic series starter. I was instantly hooked from page one of Cinder. Marissa Meyer struck the perfect balance between fairy tale retelling with elements of political intrigue and a gritty pandemic. That was not at all what I expected and I instantly loved it. The action didn’t stop for a moment, and the pacing was perfect.
Scarlet was my least favorite book in the series, if I’m honest. But still four-star worthy. I know a lot of people liked it more than Cinder, but I never connected with Scarlet and Wolf. I actually didn’t even start to like Scarlet until Winter. At the end of Cinder, I was so so excited to hear about what would happen next – to Cinder. Starting the second book, I didn’t really want to read about this new character, Scarlet, and her mission to find her grandmother. I wanted to know how Cinder was going to escape from prison! It took a while (half the book) before I really felt engaged in Scarlet’s half of the story, and even then, I was mostly just hoping she would meet up with Cinder and Thorne. But I did love the introduction of Thorne, and Scarlet definitely advanced the plot and setup Cress nicely.
Cress was brilliant and my favorite in the series. Cress is such an enjoyable character to inhabit the head of. She’s also a great foil to Cinder and Scarlet, who are much more go-getter warrior types. Cress develops a quieter bravery that ends up being just as valuable (if not more so) than Cinder and Scarlet’s rebelliousness and badassery. And I loved the palace heist! It was like some magical Ocean’s 11 fantasy when the Rampion crew successfully infiltrates New Beijing Palace to rescue/kidnap Kai. The whole event was just so much fun to read and kept me up WAY past my bedtime.
So let’s talk about Winter. The book, not the character. I liked it! But I didn’t quite love it. I want to be one of those people raving about it and giving it tons of praise, but it wasn’t quite there for me.
The length was one of my main sticking points. Goodreads says this book is 824 pages. I didn’t feel like this book needed to be as long as it was. I actually wondered if this was rushed through editing? A large chunk of the early-middle section falls into this pattern of “someone-just-got-captured-then-they-escaped-now-someone-else-is-captured”. And there’s some case of sloppy sentence structure and dangling modifiers that I had to re-read a few times. Maybe Meyer was working with a tight deadline or wanted to give fans as much content as possible or maybe she and her editors really felt like this was the proper length. But I felt like this book really lagged in the middle, and I actually found myself getting a little bored, which has never happened to me in a Lunar Chronicles novel. Not even when Scarlet and Wolf aimlessly wandered around a forest in France.
Also NO EPILOGUE? You can’t do that to me! I need closure. I know Meyer just wants us to read (and buy) Stars Above, which I’m obviously going to do. But I would have appreciated a little more of a proper ending after 800 pages.
So if you were gonna twist my non-cyborg arm to rank the series I would say:
This is one of those series in which the characters made the books. Meyer did a great job of developing each character’s voice and keeping it unique from the others. Which I imagine is quite a challenge with so many rotating perspectives. I won’t mention them all, just some of my personal favorites:
Cinder is my favorite. She was my favorite from page one. I loved her character development throughout the series. In the first book she was so embarrassed and ashamed of being a cyborg and horrified to learn she was Lunar. By the end she is a total badass who has reclaim her throne and reformed cyborg laws. Her balance of showy self-confidence and inner vulnerability made her a believable heroine who I thoroughly enjoyed rooting for.
Iko is my second favorite. Her lightheartedness and humor was so much fun and a perfect foil to Cinder. I also loved what a key role she ended up playing in the series, right up until the end! The fact that she ends up holding the key to rebuilding the relationship between Earth and Luna was a perfect send-off.
And Cress! I loved that this tiny, meek person was also the most powerful and intelligent hacker in the galaxy. I loved how she got to experience friendship for the first time in her life, and how touched she was by it. I wish that they had explored the connection between her and Dr. Erland more. I thought that had the potential to be a really touching storyline that never got played out to its fullest potential. Dr. E barely even gets a mention in Winter.
The feminism is strong in this one, and I’m all about it. Despite the many (many) love interests, it’s clear that the real heroes of the novels are the women. I could honestly go on and on about the feminist undertones, but I think that might warrant a separate post all of it’s own. So suffice it to say that Meyer turns the ‘damsel in distress’ trope on its head in the funnest way ever. I loved this series, and I am SO GLAD that the book blogging community introduced me to it!