September 7, 2015

About Marissa Meyer's Books, By Brita Long, Book Reviewer


Some fairy tale adaptations share a minor, but irritating flaw: strict adherence to fairy tale elements. While I praise ingenious parallels between classic tales and their modern counterparts, I cringe when writers force those parallels, to the detriment of the plot. (Editor's note: Here's Meyer's website, to learn even more about her works.)

What I love about Marissa Meyer’s series The Cinder Chronicles is her ability to use and discard fairy tale elements as necessary to continue the story. The first three novels—Cinder, Scarlett, and Cress—feature futuristic versions of "Cinderella," "Little Red Riding Hood," and "Rapunzel." As Lissa Sloan already reviewed these in detail a year ago, I’ll only mention a few points for each.

In New Beijing, Cinder is a teenage cyborg—a second-class citizen due to her part-human, part-robotic physiology. Like Cinderella, she lives with a stepmother and two stepsisters, but Meyer creates a few twists. Cinder was adopted by her late stepfather when her parents died in the same accident that necessitated her robotic components. Also, Cinder has a close relationship with one of her stepsisters, Peony.

While Meyer’s world still includes a royal ball with a royal prince, Cinder’s motivation to attend is completely different. Not interested in one night of freedom or the chance to dance with the prince, Cinder has a nobler goal: to warn Prince Kai about Queen Levana’s nefarious plans. She drives herself to the gala in an old orange car, wearing a torn and stained ball gown.

Scarlett is a feisty redhead who lives and works on her grandmother’s farm in the South of France and who delivers fresh produce to local restaurants. When her grandmother goes missing, Scarlett sets out to find her, with the assistance of the mysterious Wolf. In Scarlett, Meyer definitely just takes the ideas of "Little Red Riding Hood" rather than adhering to the original plot.
 
Cress’s story is the least like its fairy tale counterpart, Rapunzel. She is locked alone in a satellite, and she does have long unruly hair, but the similarities end there.
 

If you’re like me and waiting for a library copy of Meyer’s latest novel, Fairest, then check out her three novellas or short stories published for free online. Meyer continues her mastery of fairy tale adaptations with Glitches, The Queen’s Army, and The Little Android.
Glitches is the prequel to Cinder, describing Cinder’s early life with her adopted family. Like many prequels, it actually works better to read AFTER Cinder. In it, Meyer describes Cinder’s blossoming relationship with Peony and the origins of the beloved android Iko.
The Queen’s Army is the origins story for Wolf. It includes spoilers for Scarlett. How does a 12-year-old boy transform into the Big Bad Wolf? By an evil queen recruiting him for her army. Exploring the universal question of what it means to be human, Meyer has written an exquisite story of one genetically-modified soldier’s struggle to retain his humanity.
The Little Android is the one novella that is its own fairy tale, but also does not contribute directly to the plot of Meyer’s first three full-length novels. An adaptation of "The Little Mermaid," it tells the story of android Mech6.0. MC has a glitch—she develops impractical reasoning, exhibits emotional responses, and even falls in love. MC manages to have her programming transferred to an escort droid’s human body, but just like the Little Mermaid, she is unable to talk. The ending is incredibly bittersweet, and despite all the sad parts in Meyer’s books, this is the first time I cried reading her work.
Have you ever read a sci-fi fairy tale adaptation? I’d love to hear your thoughts on The Cinder Chronicles!

Brita Long

Brita Long is a francophile feminist living out her own fairy tale with her husband in Ohio. You can find her online at bellebrita.com, where she writes about her faith, books, and her life as a southern belle in the Midwest.
 
 

2 comments

  1. I have loved all the Cinder books so far and can't wait for Winter. I have not read the novellas but I'm sure I would enjoy them, so thanks for the reminder about those. I also love the way Marissa Meyer picks and chooses which parts of the fairy tale she will keep, which she will lose, and which she will turn on their heads (my favorite part). I also love the fact that, rather than having one character be the all things to all people "strong female character", she writes several interesting, complex heroines (and heroes as well). Her books have it all, and I can't wait for the next one:)

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  2. I've read these (not including the novellas) and have spotlighted them on my blog: (http://www.fairytalefandom.com/2014/06/fairy-tale-fandom-book-report-lunar.html). I think they're fantastic and I eagerly await the release of Winter.

    However, one little thing. I believe they're called The Lunar Chronicles, not The Cinder Chronicles.

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