No. 1 New York Times and USA Today Bestseller Marissa Meyer plunged me, along with many others, into a thrilling adventure when she published her first book in her “Lunar Chronicles” series, titled “Cinder” back in 2012. Then, she left her readers equally breathless when the series wrapped up with the book “Winter” in 2015.
Meyer hasn’t left the world she meticulously set up in her “Lunar Chronicles” behind however. Readers were given another glimpse through “Wires and Nerves,” a graphic novel sequel series written by Meyer and illustrated by Douglas Holgate, the second part of which was released Jan. 30 of this year.
It may not be the last we see of the world she introduced to us back in 2012 — the addition of the graphic novel certainly felt like meeting an old friend that you’ve missed dearly.
My initial attraction to the series came from the first book’s cover art that features a foot in a red slipper with what looked like robotic parts making up the inside. The oddity of the image caused me to pick up the book, and I was instantly intrigued when reading that my heroine, who would be following this strange retelling of Cinderella, was indeed a cyborg.
Now along with many individuals, when I think of a Cinderella tale, my mind instantly goes to Disney’s take of the classic story. The thought of a cyborg Cinderella seemed fun, and so I purchased the book figuring I would be entertained with an interesting twist on an old tale.
What I received was not what I imagined.
Instead I was thrust into a dystopian future, where the main character, Cinder, ends up becoming a key player against her will in war with Earth and the lunar people, who reside on the moon.
Queen Levana, who rules the lunar people, will do anything to subject the people of Earth to her rule.
So what does this have to do with the tale of Cinderella, you ask?
Actually, quite a bit. Somehow despite the long narrative surrounding the war, a power struggle and even a plague, we can find the fairytales we grew up with not only neatly woven into the book, but interconnected with every addition to the series.
The theme of fairytales is not restricted to just Cinder. With the following additions to the series, “Scarlet,” “Cress” and “Winter,” we are introduced to different heroines whose stories give us completely different takes of Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Snow White.
Even the side stories, “Fairest: Levana’s Story” and “Wires & Nerves,” follow closely to this formula, with the two volumes of “Wires & Nerves” feeling like an echo of Pinocchio.
As a reader, I found the subtle connections to these classic tales impressive and fell in love with every character in every book.
In past readings with other authors, I have had problems with book series changing the character I was following as a reader. Sometimes certain characters are just more interesting than others. This is by no means a fault on the author, as many other readers may connect to these characters, but for me, it can really kill a series. So when that didn’t happen here, I had to applaud the author for her characters.
Now I would be lying if I said I didn’t have a favorite.
The winner of that goes to Winter, the beautifully — literally and figuratively — scarred princess who’s scar down her cheek was inflicted by her stepmother for being too beautiful, and her bouts of insanity are self-inflicted due to her refusal to use her natural gifts to subjectate another’s will. Winter’s spurts of insanity are often the result of hallucinations, and this combined with her gentle nature causes her to come off as both whimsical and innocent.
“She watched her own fingers burrow into her dress, her fingernails scraping at the fabric until she could feel the sting on her thighs. She watched the ice climb over her wrists, toward here elbows. Where the ice touched her flesh went numb.
She imagined lashing out at the queen with those ice-solid fists. She imagined her hands shattering into a thousand icicle shards.
It was at her shoulders now. Her neck.
Even over the popping and cracking of the ice, she heard the cut of flesh. The burble of blood and a muffled gag. The hard slump of the body. The cold had stolen into her chest. She squeezed her eyes shut, reminding herself to be calm, to breathe. She could hear Jacin’s steady voice in her head, his hands gripping her shoulders. It isn’t real, Princess. It’s only an illusion.” (Excerpt from “Winter”)
This artfully detailed description of Princess Winter’s hallucination, along with others in the book, was chilling, and I couldn’t help admiring the princess for her courage in her refusal to subjugate another, despite the harm it did to herself. Winter is just a charming character — and honestly so are all the others.
The Lunar Chronicles provides a cast of colorful, complicated characters and Meyer successfully draws readers into every one of their stories.
If you’re looking for a unique spin on classic tales, you will find that in this series, but strap yourself in, because that is not all you will be receiving from this series.
As I finish the most recent edition, “Wires & Nerves: Volume 2,” and say goodbye to another well done story, I’ll have my fingers crossed that this isn’t the last time I visit the world of the Lunar Chronicles.
Nichole Harwood is the culture editor for the Daily Lobo. She primarily covers alumni and art features. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Nolidoli1.