Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, all your favorite fairy tales are brought to life on Earth—a thousand years from now, and in the midst of the waging of an intergalactic war. You have probably conjured up a really confusing image of Snow White fighting off exploding robots on the moon, or some other equally unappealing scene. You’re probably thinking, “Wow, I did not need that in my head right now. Why did this columnist think writing that was a good idea?” It was indeed a very bad idea, so feel free to cleanse your mind of that image and give your brain a second to recover.
As you can see, incorporating fantasy, sci-fi, and dystopian genres into one series is literarily difficult, and although many authors have tried, few have succeeded to the point of receiving the title of New York Times Bestseller. However, author Marissa Meyer has revolutionized the way we view incorporated genres in her celebrated series The Lunar Chronicles.
The Lunar Chronicles follows eight main characters who eventually unite against the manipulative Levana, Meyer’s version of the Evil Queen. Levana reigns over the planet Luna and is intent upon creating a vicious mind-controlled army to destroy Earth once she marries its new king, Kai (Prince Charming). However, having set foot on earth, she discovers a cyborg named Cinder (Cinderella), who sets Levana’s plans in disarray. As Cinder begins to uncover her true identity alongside the wanted fugitive Carswell Thorne (Flynn Rider), Levana’s technician Cress (Rapunzel), soldier Ze’ev Kesley (the Beast), a desperate farmgirl named Scarlet Benoit (Belle/Little Red Riding Hood), Levana’s own stepdaughter, Winter (Snow White), and her guard, Jacin (the Prince), Levana slowly begins to lose her grip on both earth and Luna. A rebellion against her power spreads over the two planets and the galaxies in between.
Meyer fashions her characterization expertly, from Cinder’s harsh sarcasm to Cress’ innocent optimism, and in doing so beautifully creates the friendships that eventually form between our eight protagonists. Her style of writing allows readers to easily follow her breathtaking plot as unexpected twists and turns are constantly revealed. Intertwined through all of this, she tells a story focused on the depth of true friendship, the moral issues of war for selfish gain, the duty of family, and perhaps most definitively, the importance of thinking for oneself.
Many readers and writers have argued that incorporating genres always results in a conglomerate mess of a book, but Meyer’s The Lunar Chronicles is a notable and surprising exception to this claim. The passionate characters reel readers into a creative world in which they explore the flaws of being human through war, politics, and close-knit friendships. Meyer has not only succeeded in writing a fantasy-sci-fi-dystopian work, but also in the fresh retelling five fairy tales in a futuristic setting: Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White.
I invite you to take a trip into a kingdom in outer space this weekend (it will be nothing like the catastrophe I described at the beginning of this article, I promise), and allow yourself to be swept off your feet and into the stars.