By Kayla Whittle
Nearly everyone knows the story of “Cinderella.” Across the globe, there are variations of the story that have emerged from past centuries. Marissa Meyer’s quartet of books, “The Lunar Chronicles,” takes that familiar fairy tale alongside a handful of other stories and throws them into a vivid sci-fi world. Cinderella is a cyborg. Little Red Riding Hood is a gunslinging French farmer. Rapunzel is trapped on a satellite. Snow White is a princess isolated on the moon by her evil stepmother. Meyer is incredibly creative and innovative in the way she twists these stories so that they are nearly unrecognizable had she not given key fairy tale traits to each of her four leading ladies. For example, “Cinder,” her take on “Cinderella,” has a metal foot instead of a glass slipper and Scarlet, her version of Little Red Riding Hood, always wears a bright red sweatshirt.
The latest companion to “The Lunar Chronicles” series is “Stars Above.” It features nine short stories set in this world Meyer created. While it seems like many young adult authors today drag out conclusions for more profit and write their ideas to death, Meyer pulls off her ending beautifully.
“Stars Above” gives readers who have already fallen in love with “The Lunar Chronicles” a peek into the past. Each beloved character from the series has a short story in the collection that features her at a pivotal moment that was mentioned in passing in one of the other books. For length or pacing, these stories couldn’t be added to the original manuscript, but here, they are given a life of their own. While this could be a way to ease newer readers into the complex, futuristic world, they would read at the risk of spoilers. The final story in “Stars Above” is an epilogue to the final book in “The Lunar Chronicles” series. I would recommend trying out the others first, before entirely giving away the ending for yourself.
In the “Stars Above” collection, Meyers stuns readers with beautiful prose. It reads not like a fan fiction but rather like a carefully created introspection for each of the major characters. While the point of view in “The Lunar Chronicles” does shift, allowing some freedom of expression for each character, this takes that to new extreme. It seems like within the series, they were in constant danger and surrounded by those they could not trust. Here, the characters are allowed to take a step back from the action. In many ways, they are portrayed as more innocent because the stories often revolve around their unconventional childhoods. Meyer excels when it comes to this characterization.
All in all, “Stars Above” is another great installment in a series that captures the imagination and inspires its readers. Meyer takes ideas that have never before been introduced in young adult fiction and manages to blend them seamlessly with beloved fairy tales.