This is the fourth book of “The Lunar Chronicles,” although it is more of a “prequel” to the three already published and to a fourth planned book to come.
Each of the previous books joins a separate fairytale retelling into a connected whole, which takes place in a dystopian future in which the people of Earth are struggling to maintain independence from the mind-controlling, genetically-enhanced people of Luna (i.e., the moon).
The first book, Cinder, focuses on a teenaged girl who is meant to evoke Cinderella.
The second book, Scarlet, is a reworking of “Little Red Riding Hood.” The third book in the series, Cress, introduces Cress (short for Crescent Moon), who is our Rapunzel.
In all of the books, the villain is Queen Levana, who rules the Lunar colony and who is seeking to take over the Earth as well. This book, a take-off of “Snow White,” begins on the moon when Levana is 15, and provides an explanation for how and why she became so cruel and vengeful.
Discussion: It’s a bit difficult to feel the same warmth toward this main character as one could in the previous books, with their likable and spunky heroines. The circumstances of Levana’s life have made her warped and twisted. Moreover, there is no fairy tale romance to lighten the plot. What happens to Levana is just a progression from horrible to more horrible, and nothing can assuage her psychic pain except the destruction of anyone and everyone who might be able to experience the love and happiness denied to her.
Evaluation: The story is mainly focused on Levana and her growing pathology. Not much else really takes place, nor is there much exposition about what is happening in the wider world, either on Luna or on Earth. I would say this book is more of one of those “.5” books in series that one could safely skip and still follow and enjoy the rest. On the other hand, if you can’t get enough of “The Lunar Chronicles,” this one is short, and paves the way for the next book which is about Winter, a girl you will meet in Fairest.
Note: The books in “The Lunar Chronicles” are not really standalones.
Published by Feiwel and Friends, an imprint of Macmillan, 2015