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Dystopian Fairy Tales: the Lunar Chronicles

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Dystopian futures and paranormal romance are my two most universally disliked genres, so it stands to reason that a book series that combines the two should be on my absolutely not list. However, this YA series came so highly recommended – first by my 13 year old daughter, then by a book blogger whose opinion I respect – that I decided to give it a try. Also, they’re based on fairy tales, which buys a lot of leeway from me.

Cinder is a cyborg Cinderella. Earth is on the brink of war with Luna, a moon race, and is fighting a deadly epidemic. The traditional Cinderella themes are incorporated – the prince, the ball, the evil family members – but in this incarnation, Cinder is no shrinking violet, crying on the hearth and waiting to be rescued. And her fairy “godmother” is, well, not so sweet, and pretty much makes her life more difficult.

Scarlet is a retelling of the Little Red Riding Hood tale as well as a continuation of the war/epidemic story in Cinder, but the plot twists (away from the original) in this one are huge. Scarlet’s grandmother, who is missing, is a former spaceship pilot, and Scarlet is fearlessly, and recklessly, searching for her. The wolf (or Wolf in this case)has a very unexpected role to play.

Cress is actually Rapunzel. Hair: check. Trapped in a tower (of sorts)by an evil witch: check. Rescued (sort of) by a rake: check. After that, all bets are off. Being physically trapped has not stopped Cress from making waves out in the world.

The series will have two more books: a prequel, called Fairest, about the evil queen Levana, and Winter, a Snow White tale due out in Fall 2015.

These books are wonderful, fresh stories that hold their own even without the occasional glimpse of the original fairy tales. The female characters are out there making things happen. The male characters aren’t cardboard cutouts, either – most have major flaws. I devoured all three books in less than a week. My only complaint is that the final book is not out for a year!

I would almost recommend these as Family Books, but there is a fair amount of ick in the books. They would definitely be appropriate for older teens, but for younger ones and preteens, I would advise previewing the books first.

Fun side note: I have a daughter named Scarlet. My husband contacted Marissa Meyer, and she very kindly mailed my Scarlet some swag (bookmarks and the like). When you have an unusual name, seeing it in print is really spectacular.

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