Author: Marissa Meyer
Find the author: Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon, Pinterest
Also by this author: Cinder, , Scarlet, Winter, Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles, #3.5), Heartless, Wires and Nerve, Wires and Nerve, Volume 2
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication date: February 2nd 2016
Source: Fierce Reads/Raincoast Books
Format: Bound galley
The enchantment continues....
The universe of the Lunar Chronicles holds stories—and secrets—that are wondrous, vicious, and romantic. How did Cinder first arrive in New Beijing? How did the brooding soldier Wolf transform from young man to killer? When did Princess Winter and the palace guard Jacin realize their destinies?
With nine stories—five of which have never before been published—and an exclusive never-before-seen excerpt from Marissa Meyer’s upcoming novel, Heartless, about the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, Stars Above is essential for fans of the bestselling and beloved Lunar Chronicles.
Guys, I am SO excited to be able to give you this review of Stars Above by Marissa Meyer. Last week, I got the most amazing news: Fierce Reads and Raincoast Books (distributor of tons of amazing books in Canada, including Macmillan titles) were sending me a bound galley copy of STARS ABOVE! To say I was excited is a complete understatement. There was much screaming and dancing around in my house because I really, REALLY needed a few extra chapters at the end of Winter. I needed to make sure my babies were still okay =P
In addition, Fierce Reads and Raincoast also let me know that they would generously providing a finished copy of STARS ABOVE to one lucky reader in US/Canada. So scroll down, check out my mini-reviews of each of the stories, and enter the giveaway!
REVIEW: STARS ABOVE BY MARISSA MEYER
Because I came to this series a bit late, I had not read any of the previous novellas that were released. So I went into this very blind, and let me tell you, Meyer is just as talented at novellas as she is at long-form stories.
From a literary point of view, a novella should be intriguing, a bit of a tease for the longer series it represents – but it should also standalone as a story. To me, Meyer imbues each story with just enough detail so that we feel for the characters, but holds back enough that if I were a new reader, I would definitely want more.
I should note, though, that I felt a marked difference in the newer and older stories – while the previously released stories provide insight, they don’t quite have the depth that the newer ones achieve. The new material not only spans more half of this book, but those stories also boast a confidence and more descriptive writing that really makes them breathe. Although I enjoyed each and every one of these stories, the new ones have arrow-sharp theme and direction, and because of that, I liked them the most.
The Keeper is the story of Michelle Benoit, and of how this tough, wonderful woman came to care for two of our heroines, Cinder and Scarlet. We also finally get Scarlet’s proper genealogy. A short prequel, but one that really characterizes Michelle, and why Scarlet was so desperate to find her. It was also amazing to hear all that happened BEFORE Cinder but AFTER Fairest.
Taking place very soon after the end of The Keeper, this is the story of Cinder’s first few weeks of consciousness and how she came to live with the Linhs. It’s essentially the very early parts of the Cinderella story, where her father dies and leaves her in the care of the stepmother and stepsisters.
A few things become clear very quickly in this story: Cinder has a lot of extra skills from her cyborg side that will become useful, Adri has always had a fear/prejudice against cyborgs, and Linh Garan hints at some very valuable technology that will come into play later in the novels. I loved how Meyer really got in the head of eleven year old Cinder, a girl who has no idea how to deal with her cyborg aspects, or the prejudice that she’s facing. A moving story with an expected, but emotional ending.
The Queen’s Army
I was dreading reading this one because honestly, I feel like we’ve been put through the wringer with Wolf and Scarlet already. I did appreciate this backstory on Ze’ev, Ran and the Kesley family and how Ze’ev came to be an Alpha in the Queen’s Army.
Big things I didn’t realize: how young the kids were that Levana took – Ze’ev is just 12 when he’s taken and genetically modified, and it’s just as frightening and gruesome as you expect. I also didn’t realize how much the thaumaturges are stretching and learning their abilities by having the packs as their playthings. It’s not just the physical modifications, but the mental ones that truly make the Lunar special operatives one of Levana’s worst evils (I would still argue that letumosis is worse, but…). Fascinating and dark, but I feel like I understand Ze’ev a lot better now.
Carswell’s Guide to Being Lucky
This one was just okay for me – I had hoped to get the story about Thorne acquiring the Rampion, but this short story featured a younger Thorne helping a girl who has been bullied in school. It was fairly predictable, showing how Thorne used to be before he met Cinder and Cress – which is essentially Han Solo from Star Wars: a ne’er-do-well with thoughts only on how to get rich or get girls quick. And yet, like Han Solo, you can’t help but be charmed by him. At his heart, Thorne is actually interested in anyone who can see through his rough exterior, and someone who is more interested in other things than in being charmed by him. Contrary, but it also makes it clear why he ends up liking Cress in the end. Cute, but not essential, in my opinion.
After Sunshine Passes By
Wow. As if you didn’t already hate Sybil Mira before this, this story shows Cress’ early talent at system programming, and how she eventually ends up captive in her satellite. Although very short, Meyer brilliantly shows Cress’ longing for freedom and her sweet nature and contrasts it to Mistress Sybil’s complete lack of empathy. Even though this was so sad (seriously, what is WITH the kids in this series constantly being taken and hurt and tortured?!), I loved this little window we get into nine year old Cress’ mind, and finding out little things that made her, well, her.
The Princess and the Guard
Wonderful. I feel like Winter and Jacin are the most underrated couple in the Lunar Chronicles universe, mostly because we meet them last and get very little of their friendship leading up to their romance. Here, finally, we see Winter and Jacin, first as eight year olds, then as teenagers, and Winter’s devastating, but incredibly brave decision to forego her Lunar gift (seriously, Winter is DEFINITELY a Gryffindor). I think this is one of the darkest stories in the book, and the most illuminating of just how sick mind manipulation can be. Brilliantly written and devastating. My second favorite of the book.
The Little Android
Did not expect to love this one like I do – what an amazing retelling of The Little Mermaid! It was refreshing to get a story from The Lunar Chronicles universe that just touches peripherally on our main characters, but also continues some of the threads of prejudice, freedom, bravery and sacrifice that so characterize the main novels. Mech 6.0 turning into a “loving” android, surpassing her artificial intelligence is the perfect foil for the original Little Mermaid story, and I love that this isn’t the Disney-fied version, either (even though I have a MAJOR thing for Ariel). Even though this is more a character story for the android and the love interest is pretty much a dream boy, it’s still an adorable and genuine story. Very clever and beautifully written retelling.
I have a confession to make: I didn’t ship Kai and Cinder together at all in the first book. I KNOW. I just…got more friendly, light flirting feels than swoony ones. But The Mechanic finally gives me those feels about their first meeting. By writing Kai and Cinder’s first meeting from Kai’s perspective, Meyer has given me a new look at what was going on there, and yeah, it’s shippy and I am ON BOARD. Normally I’m pretty wary of “told from the other character’s perspective” style books, but this one…this one actually added to my love of these two characters and their relationship. A little short, but worth reading.
Something Old, Something New (or Stars Above)
And now we come to the one you’ve all been waiting for. Not gonna lie, this was the first thing I flipped to when I got this manuscript, and I’m sure a lot of you will, too. You won’t be disappointed; I teared up several times during this. It was just so darn delightful to be with our favorite characters again, and to NOT be doing it while agonizing over their welfare.
Told from Cinder’s point of view two years after the war on Luna, Something Old, Something New tells the story of a special wedding for two very special character. For those of you who are DESPERATE and can’t wait, here are two little tidbits for you. Don’t read if you don’t want to be spoiled!
A quote: View Spoiler »“It wasn’t until that moment, seeing Kai’s smile and being wrapped up in his arms–both of them ignoring the fact that the world was watching–that she realized he was the home she’d been missing.” « Hide Spoiler SWOONS.
While the rest of The Lunar Chronicles had funny and sarcastic moments, Something Old, Something New finally allows Marissa Meyer to really flex her humor writing muscles. This story shines with well-deserved optimism and CUTENESS. Those of you with shippy hearts will be very, VERY satisfied.
Aside from the shippiness (because we know that’s the most important, but I have to say something coherent!), what I really loved about this story is that it depicts a world where Luna and Earth are working together, but restoration is still continuing. Not everything is perfect after Winter – it’s like the end of The Lord of the Rings, where you come back home, but realize that the bigger events do have a ripple effect and have changed and shaped not just the characters, but their external lives. It’s truthful to what I’d expect in the fallout from war, and it celebrates the imperfections of life.
To me, this story was an absolute gift to fans. Every character rings true, and it’s funny, sweet, charming…it’s an ending that leaves your heart full. If you were looking for the perfect coda to The Lunar Chronicles, this is it.
The Final Word:
Full of Marissa Meyer’s signature world-building, and snarktastic dialogue, STARS ABOVE is definitely essential to your Lunar Chronicles collection (the epilogue alone is worth it, I promise!). If you were thinking of giving these a pass, don’t. Unlike many other anthologies I’ve read, these stories are well-worth your time and add a lot of depth to the characters and plot that we know and love.
Are you as obsessed with the Lunar Chronicles as I am? Are you dying to know about the wedding and the epilogue? Which story are you really excited for (other than the epilogue)? Hit the comments and let me know!
And if you haven’t already pre-ordered the book, Raincoast Books and Fierce Reads are offering you a chance to win a copy. US/Canada only (sorry, international friends!). Good luck!