Titles: Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Winter
+ companion novella Fairest
Author: Marissa Meyer
Genre: YA Science-fiction Fairytale Retelling
See Part 1 here.
The Content: Many secular series are brilliantly written, but often times their content—what they are about—isn’t what I want to be filling my head with, especially as a Christian.
But The Lunar Chronicles is relatively clean concerning the most common gray areas, putting it on par with the edgier books of the Christian market.
Swearing is present, but kept to a minimum, being restricted (as far as I remember) to damn and a few variation thereof. And while the uses are not absolutely necessary, it never distracts from the reading. It makes sense who uses it, as well as how and when they use it. This makes the swearing understandable and conforms to reality, even though I personally don’t care much for it.
Concerning sexual content, these are fairy tales. So each book contains a strong romance line, with the expected physical attraction, kissing, and more intimate touching. However, this is no explicit sex. Scarlet seems to contain the most, with an attempted rape and one place where a sex scene could be read into the story between two chapters. However, it is left up to the reader what and how much the insert between the lines.
Also, despite the fairytale foundation, there are not magical or supernatural elements. Rather, true to its science-fiction world, all the unnatural elements are provided a scientific explanation, like advanced technology or genetic manipulation.
Perhaps not surprising, violence is the strongest element in these stories. But the original fairy tales are hardly the sweet, sterile versions provided by Disney; they reflect the violent world in which they were written in. Also, the overarching story involves war, and war is not pretty.
That said, The Lunar Chronicles keeps the violence to a dull roar, Scarlet, Fairest, and Winter containing the highest levels. The violence never seems added in unnecessarily and the descriptions never seem more graphic than they absolutely have to be. Indeed, several times the author found ways to “blind” characters so we didn’t have to witness the carnage firsthand, again allowing the reader to imagine as much or little as desired.
From a thematic side, The Lunar Chronicles raises many questions worth delving into. Is manipulation ever right? What makes a human, human? Is doing wrong ever right? Who can be redeemed and how? Cinder’s rebellion also would provide good discussion material in light of the biblical mandate of submission to government.
Summary: The Lunar Chronicles is an engaging series, reimagining the familiar fairy tales in a complex science-fiction world with complicated characters Moreover, while the content isn’t “safe” per se, it stays well within justifiable bounds, making this one of the best secular series on the market. Some caution recommended for those with manipulative or rebellious tendencies. Highly recommended for fairytale lovers. Overall, an excellent read for older teens and adults.
Rating: Craft—5, Content—4, Overall—4.5 out of 5 stars