Wires and Nerve

In her first graphic novel, Marissa Meyer extends the world of the Lunar Chronicles with a brand-new, action-packed story about Iko, the android with a heart of (mechanized) gold. When rogue packs of wolf-hybrid soldiers threaten the tenuous peace alliance between Earth and Luna, Iko takes it upon herself to hunt down the soldiers’ leader. She is soon working with a handsome royal guard who forces her to question everything she knows about love, loyalty, and her own humanity. With appearances by Cinder, Cress, Scarlet, Winter and the rest of the Rampion Crew, this is a must-have for fans of the bestselling series.

Wires and Nerve

I don’t think it is possible for me to get enough of the Lunar Chronicles. I just adore these women and their politically complex world. It’s like Meyer’s mission with this series was to take the idea of the one special snowflake girl and smash it to pieces. It’s like a snow storm in the Alps.

It’s weird now, having read Wires and Nerve, that it had never occurred to me that the series felt somewhat incomplete without a story written from Iko’s point of view.

Of course that needed to happen.

(Like the best writers, Meyer knows what I need before I even think of it).

This story has everything a fan of the Lunar Chronicles could possibly want – a new romance, Cinder kicking ass at the whole queen thing (with Iko and some new friends coaxing her into more queenly attire than her beloved overalls) and plenty of time spent on the Rampion with Cress and Thorne (as well as an interesting look at Thorne’s life pre-criminal mastermind phase). It was so easy to slip back into the world and immerse yourself in the dynamics of these characters.

(Lunar Chronicles re-read, anyone? I think I might have to).

There were two really interesting elements in Wires and Nerve that I’m particularly excited to see Meyer expand on as the series continues. One was Iko admitting her desire to be human, and the other, the villains of the story: the wolf hybrids.

It becomes apparent early on that in all the stories told on Earth and Luna of the now mythic takedown of the evil Queen Levana, Iko is missing. Whereas the other members of the Rampion crew are famous and in one case, queen, Iko’s role has been dismissed by the people. We get the feeling as the reader that this has served as the catalyst for Iko’s sort of ingrained self-hatred (although it feels weird to call it that since Iko has always presented as such a joyful character). She has been deeply invested in so many human experiences – loss, love, war, success, failure – and yet by people’s attitudes toward her excluded from them. Meyer explores this through Iko’s relationship with her love interest, Kinney, a guy determined to see her as nothing more than a simple robot. I love how Iko’s presence causes Kinney in particular, but also everyone who encounters her, honestly, to question what humanity really is, and whether only people who are officially ‘human’ can have it.

Speaking of complexity, I find Meyer’s approach to the new villains, the wolf-hybrids created by Queen Levana, to be super interesting. While, as the reader, we’re theoretically against them (they want to hurt Cinder! WTF?! GET THEM!), their anger and complete distrust of a government that turned them into terrifying mutants and (in their view) refuses to turn them back makes total sense. Though their actions and appearance are certainly monstrous, it’s hard to consider them monsters. They are really more the victims of the story than the villains.

My only issue is that I have to wait a year for volume 2.

HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO DO THAT?

Winter

It turns out Cinder isn’t the only princess despotic Queen Levana wants to keep out of the limelight. She may not have attempted to murder Winter (yet), but she did compel her to scar her own face. Winter is beautiful, and totally beloved by the people of Luna. Levana thought the scars might change people’s minds about her. It didn’t work – Winter is as beloved as ever.

In addition to being beautiful and sweet, the anti-Levana, if you will, Winter is absolutely the-palace-walls-are-bleeding crazy. After years of refusing to use her gift of mind control, she has been enveloped by the madness of the Lunar sickness.

But she copes, with the help of sexy palace guard (the same one who ratted out the team on the Rampion at the end of Cress ), Jacin.

When Cinder’s revolution finally begins to encroach on Levana’s rule, for the first time, Winter can envision a life that is more than just coping. A life free from Levana’s tyranny. She wants to join the fight. With her new allies at her side, she can only hope to keep the fractured pieces of her mind together until the end.

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It is hard to review a book that’s just over 800 pages long.

Suffice to say, it was awesome.

I’ll expand on that a little.

Generally speaking, I am not much for book series. I rarely make it past book 2. Unless it’s Harry Potter, The Princess Diaries or some other precious thing from child/teen-hood, most of the time, I don’t want to know. Even if I’ve read a whole series and kind of liked it, by the time I’ve reached the end, I usually have more bad to say about it than good. I think this is essentially down to 2 series pitfalls, one of which is the love triangle. I’ve mentioned before that I just end up hating everyone involved by the end. When you’re willing two guys to dump a protagonist, then you know you’ve got a problem. The other pitfall is book 2, which almost always sucks. Frequently, I find that character development grinds to a halt, people fall in love for no reason and essentially nothing happens. So I never read the third book. Sometimes I think an okay trilogy would have make a fairly sound duology.

It happens in films too. Think of how much better the Hobbit movies might have been if most of them never happened.

I want you to know that it hurts me to say that, because of my deep and abiding love for Martin Freeman.

What worked for me in The Lunar Chronicles, what caused me to fall in love, I think, was that every book had a different protagonist. Rather than continuing the same story, leaving me to get bored reading recycled romantic scenes and the same self-sabotaging behaviours over and over again, every book Marissa Meyer put out felt fresh. We got to know someone new while watching Cinder gradually build her army. There was no main character in the series whose story I wasn’t completely invested in.

There was a new-ness to each story that drew me in every time. Winter was no different. Winter can be a stressful individual to be around. She can be consumed by horrifying visions any moment, whether or not you’re just about to be maybe eaten by a wolf army. But she’s more than just her unpredictable mental state. She’s brave. She launches into Cinder’s revolution without even considering the consequences. The reason she’s unstable in the first place is self-inflicted. She refuses to use her Lunar gift as she believes it can only result in the pain of others. There are few that would have the strength to face madness to remain true to their beliefs. She’s kind. Despite growing up with Levana and her complete disregard for the lives of her people, Winter cares.

She’s also a massive flirt. See any of her scenes with Jacin for evidence of this. Watching her throw impenetrable Jacin off balance is fun.

Like all the girls that have come before her, she was interesting and complex and someone I wanted to know more.

Winter was a very satisfying ending to a wonderful series. Marissa Meyer did a really good job of giving everyone time to speak throughout (although whenever Cress wasn’t around, I missed her) and I felt like everyone’s various threads were tied up well. The minute I finished I was ready to re-read Cinder and start the process all over again.

Favourite moments

  • Whenever Kai sassed Levana.
  • Winter and Scarlett facing the wolf armies.
  • Cress and Thorne!!! All scenes.

My one issue:

We never got to see Torin relax. Poor guy. He went through a lot.

Playing catch up: Cress

Cress has been imprisoned her whole life for being a Lunar born without the mind control powers unique to her race. After growing up in a facility with others like herself, she was transferred to a spaceship orbiting Earth seven years ago after showing aptitude for computer hacking. Her latest assignment, given to her by her captor, the evil thaumaturge Mistress Sybil, is to track down Cinder, the rogue Lunar and her criminal accomplice, Captain Carswell Thorne. Cress is not inclined to cooperate. In fact, she’s helping them hide. She supports Cinder’s mission, the de-throning of Lunar Queen Levana, and as for Captain Carswell Thorne… Well, she’s hopelessly in love with him. The photograph she has of him, anyway.

cress.jpgCress is not usually the sort of protagonist I like. Her description of herself as a ‘damsel in distress’ put me on edge. It set my feminist alarm bells ringing. So, I was pretty surprised when I looked up and realised I was a hundred pages in and totally in love with this girl.

Cress struck me as something of a departure from the other books in Marissa Meyer’s The Lunar Chronicles. Cinder and Scarlet are both pretty overtly strong characters. Cinder is trying to take down the queen of a planet, which is obviously bad-ass, and the descriptions of Michelle Benoit led me to believe that Scarlet grew up around a radical example of a strong, independent woman. Cress, on the other hand is anxious (to be fair, she has lived alone in a small space ship for the past seven years, that would make anyone a little agoraphobic), romantic and a total day dreamer (one of my favourite moments was when she summoned the bravery to sneak into the royal wedding with the affirmation “I am a famous actress.” As someone who constantly has to remind herself of her right to be places, I totally understood this sentiment).

Cress might not be the girl bursting in, guns already drawn, but so much of what has happened in the series has been down to her bravery. Everything Cinder did in the last book was possible because Cress was hiding her ship from Mistress Sybil, at great personal risk. Her world grew ten times bigger throughout the novel and she pretty much took it in her stride. She was also such an open person – to experience, to love, to her own emotions. It was a joy to see her character develop. Watching someone go through the world with so much hope and comparatively little cynicism was inspiring to me.

And then there is Captain Carswell Thorne (insert Cress-style yearning sigh). Thorne’s scenes were my favourite parts of Scarlet. Thorne is the charismatic, funny and (sometimes misguidedly) arrogant romantic lead. I would take The Funny Guy over The Prince or The Brooder any day. When I realised that Thorne was going to play a greater part in Cress, I was thrilled. It probably goes without saying at this point that Cress and Thorne’s is my favourite relationship of the series so far. Obviously it’s enjoyable watching their differences clash, particularly Cress’ perceptions of Thorne’s actions against their actual meaning (letting a tiger out of a zoo because he recognised its need for freedom (Cress) versus having a really awesome pet (Thorne)). But it’s also interesting to look at their similarities, mainly their adaptability. As I’ve already mentioned, Cress deals with a transition from a tiny spaceship to the Sahara desert with minimal panic attacks. Carswell loses his sight but keeps walking as if it’s no big deal. He figures out how to win at cards while blind. They both came to Cinder’s aid out of a desire to escape from prison. I hope we get to spend time with them in Winter. I am not ready to say goodbye to their relationship yet.

My back handed criticism is that I already feel the need to reread the entire series. So much happens in these books. I feel as if I am getting a little lost in all of the narrative threads. Perspective jumps around a lot. I enjoy this about the series, but at the same time, because all the characters have different levels of understanding of the Earth/Luna war situation, I find myself confused. Whenever I think I know what’s happening, Kai’s (Emperor of Earth, has taken something of a backseat to the narrative since book one) confusion confuses me.

My actual criticism of the book is this: Cress and Thorne crash to Earth in a spaceship and just happen to land only a few miles away from Cinder and then just happen to be kidnapped by criminals who take them right to her. I understand why Marissa Meyer did this. The world is big and if Thorne and Cress had landed in Alaska it’s unlikely that they would ever have found Cinder again. All the same, the convenience of it all was a little much, and definitely interrupted my engagement with the story.

Overall though, I loved this book. Cress could not have been such an enjoyable character had Cinder and Scarlet not come before her. I can’t wait to read Winter.