The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

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One of my favourite literary genres is fairy tales and I am especially happy with all the retellings of classic tales available in recent years. I am always curious about what spin other people can take with a well-known and much loved story and the popularity of them says something about our society I think. A nostalgic look at our cultural history but with our modern culture’s virtues and vices at the forefront regardless whether the stories take place in the past, present, or future. Last year, I found the first book in the hugely popular series of The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer and decided to give it a shot. I read it in one day! Cinder was the perfect combination of the classic story about Cinderella and her evil stepmother as well as a funny look at a futuristic Earth inhabited by robots, cyborgs, and humans, and especially about the Moon populated with people with crazy mind-controlling powers. The perfect mix of YA, fantasy, sci-fi, and (dare I say it?) a bildungsroman.

Linh Cinder is a teenage girl living with her stepmother Adri and stepsisters Peony and Pearl, the service android Iko, and working as a mechanic. In fact, she is the best mechanic in New Beijing but that has come at a prize: she is a cyborg and cyborgs are treated as non-human. If they don’t have tear ducts and can’t show emotions, are they then really human? That’s what Cinder is up against with her steel body parts and computer display in her eyes which she always tries to hide. Adri hates her because her late husband took Cinder in without asking and died shortly after, leaving Adri with three young girls and very little money, and she takes it out on Cinder fuelled by the cyborg prejudice and Cinder’s loss of memory. Whenever Cinder experiences very human emotions like blushing or panic, her system tries to shut down to avoid overheating. A protection, but also very much a burden when she suddenly sits in front of the young, handsome Crown Prince Kai of the Eastern Commonwealth, who is very much flirting with her. Asking her help to repair his service android, things suddenly speed up as a terrible plague spreads through Earth and the evil queen of the nation Luna on the Moon, Levana, steps up her threats against Earth.

An evil queen with little claim to the throne as her older sister, the rightful queen was murdered and her young daughter, Selene, went missing in a fire. Obsessed with power, Levana uses the mind controlling powers most Lunar people are gifted with to murder, terrorize, and attack anyone who poses a threat or questions. With the glamour, Lunars can control other people’s actions and their looks, and so everyone can shapeshift to look like what they want. However, they cannot control screens, androids, or mirrors. Levana has for years attempted to secure power on Earth and when Kai’s father, the emperor, suddenly dies of the plague, she scoops in to threaten Kai into marrying her. Doing his outmost to avoid it while secretly trying to locate the missing Princess Selene, he nevertheless arranges for a ball to be held in her honour on Earth and invites Cinder!

Cinder enters the ball in a very memorable fashion and the spectacle ends with her being jailed and Levana’s fury. However, during the plague, an old doctor has conducted studies on many cyborgs in order to find an antidote but he has also a secret mission: to find the missing Lunar princess. With Cinder suddenly in custody and close to death, the doctor discovers Cinder’s lost past and helps her to escape with the order of finding him in Africa.

The next books in the series introduces us to memorable characters based on the classic fairytales Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White. All titled for the main female character of the book, they offer a diverse showcase of how different girls can be and how they all learn and grow. Some are proactive and almost aggressive, some are sensitive and afraid, but they all have issues. The girls are definitely the most traditionally heroic which makes my little feminist heart happy. Most of all because the worst villains in this series are women as well. The male characters are clearly secondary, helpers and squires to the girls and their stories. The end plot could not have happened without the help of Kai, Wolf, Thorne, or Jacin, but there only is a plot due to Cinder, Scarlett, Cress, and Winter. And Levana.

The Lunar Chronicles features four main books and two companion books (Fairest and Stars Above) with short stories about past events or minor characters. These are a fantastic and clever series with a fast paced plot and lots of humour. The futuristic sci-fi world embedded with classic fairytales makes it great fun to discover the references and trying to figure out how the classic will have transformed. Marissa Meyer has created my personal favourite fairytale retelling and I really hope it will soon be available in Danish.


DANSK:

Jeg elsker genfortællinger af klassiske eventyr og legender. At opdatere en historie og gøre den relevant for vores egen tid. Marissa Meyers serie, der indtil videre ikke findes på dansk, er fremtidsudgaver af Askepot, Den lille Rødhætte, Rapunzel og Snehvide. Kort sagt: de er fantastiske! De har et højtempo plot, seje heltinder, flotte helte og en masse humor.

Fra første scene i Cinder bliver man ført ind i en verden af robotter, prinser, stedmødre, kærlighed og tekniske problemer. Specielt for hovedpersonen den forældreløse Cinder med hukommelsestab, som er New Beijings bedste mekaniker, men bor hos sin onde stedmor og en dag står overfor Kronprins Kai af Eastern Commonwealth, der spørger efter hendes hjælp. Hvis man er cyborg, altså del menneske del robot, så er det svært at undgå at ens system lukker ned hvis man rødmer, da systemet ser det som en overophedning, hvilket gør at man besvimer. Og hvis man besvimer kan man ikke beskytte sig mod at nogen finder ud af at man er cyborg. Men det er svært at undgå når nu Kronsprinsen står lige der foran og flirter…

Samtidigt er Jorden hærget af en forfærdelig pestsygdom og da Kais far dør, må Kai pludselig vælge mellem sit hjerte og sit land, for udover pesten, så er Jorden under stadig nærtforestående angreb fra Luna, nationen på Månen, under ledelse af den onde Dronning Levana. Ved brug af sine specielle lunar kræfter, der kan kontrollere andres kroppe og sin fremtoning, har Levana truet og terroriseret sig til magten på Luna og har i mange år villet det samme på Jorden. Kai forsøger at undgå at måtte gifte sig med hende for at beskytte sit folk men går alligevel med til at holde et bal til Levanas ære – og inviterer Cinder! Som i eventyret bliver det et mindeværdigt bal og da alt synes tabt, kommer der pludselig en ny chance. En chance for at finde den forsvundne Prinsesse Selene af Luna, den retmæssige arving til tronen og Levanas niece, og for at Cinder kan få svar på hvem hun er og undgå Levanas dødstraf.

De efterfølgende bøger forsætter i lige højt tempo og man læser den i nærmest et stræk, for man bliver grebet af at gennemskue eventyrparallellerne  og for hvad der nu vil ske med ens yndlingspersoner. Alle bøgerne er opkaldt efter de kvindelige hovedpersoner og det er tydeligt at det er pigerne, som fører plottet frem. Jeg er imponeret over hvor godt Meyer har fået de forskellige eventyr til at hænge sammen i et univers og arbejde sammen for at skabe et vellykket plot. Det er en fryd at følge pigernes udvikling og at se deres store forskellighed men hvor de alligevel bliver inspireret af hinanden. De lærer alle noget om sig selv og udvikler sig, som der kræves i både eventyr og ungdomsbøger. Sproget er levende og dialogerne har masser af humor, og man sidder ofte tilbage med ønsket om at personerne var virkelige.

Selvom bøgerne falder ind under genren young adult (ungdom) så vil jeg absolut også anbefale dem til ældre aldersgrupper. Egentlig vil jeg bare gerne anbefale dem til alle indtil de bliver oversat til dansk, hvilket kun kan gå for langsomt.

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About Ann-Cathrine 38 Articles
Established 1987 in Aarhus, Denmark. MA degree in English and Art History from Aarhus University, Denmark. Loves books, art, writing, coffee, dandelions, paper dolls, and haute couture.