Stars Above: A Lunar Chronicles Collection
By Carrie R. Wheadon,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Series fans get their last hurrah with nine short stories.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
The story "The Mechanic" includes a scene from the book Cinder, in which Kai and Cinder meet, but here it's shown from Kai's point of view instead of Cinder's; readers can think about how the shift in perspective changed the storytelling.
Love is looked at in many ways throughout the stories, since we're mostly following now-established couples from the Lunar Chronicles series. Most importantly, love doesn't discriminate. Loyalty to friends is also shown. And again, Winter shows how wielding a great power over others can make some evil and some reluctant to use it.
Positive Role Models
Expect less character development here and more of a reminder of why we like characters from the series. The female characters remain strong -- especially Cress, Cinder, and Winter -- as we see more vulnerable times in their lives. A robot discovers what jealousy is and overcomes it to do something selfless. Only Thorne comes off as someone who uses others to get what he wants.
Violence & Scariness
Most violence occurs when Wolf is trained to be a fighter. There are constant fistfights among the genetically engineered soldiers and one death by a neck snapping. Wolf and Cinder undergo modification surgeries with talk of needles and enhancements. Many tears when Wolf is stolen from his family for the army and when a man falls ill with a fatal contagious disease and is taken away from his wife and daughters suddenly. Mind control forces people to do horrible things against their will. Cress cuts herself because the queen wills it, and there's talk of a woman forced into sex for years who gets pregnant and eventually kills herself. A man is hit by a crane and nearly drowns in a vat of oil. A robot suffers pain in the wrong droid body. Winter suffers hallucinations where blood drips from walls. Talk of when Cress was taken from her parents, when Winter's father was shot and killed, and when Cinder was so badly burned in a fire that she almost died.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Talk of adults "making love" with no details at all. Some kissing, and Cinder and Kai stay overnight together talking until they fall asleep.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Talk of champagne poured for teens in two different stories. Scarlet's father drinks heavily and passes out.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Stars Above is a collection of nine short stories from Marissa Meyer's bestselling Lunar Chronicles series that features major sci-fi twists on well-known fairy tales. Readers will need to have read Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter to keep up. Most stories seem like scenes that were cut or pared down from those four books; one takes an exact scene and changes the perspective; one is a stand-alone story of a jealous robot; and one imagines the life of the characters after the story Winter. Expect the same level of violence, minus big battle scenes. Genetically engineered soldiers fight, with one neck snapped; Wolf and Cinder undergo modification surgeries; and a man falls ill with a fatal contagious disease and is taken away from his wife and daughters suddenly. Mind control forces people to do horrible things against their will: Cress cuts herself because the queen wills it, and there's talk of a woman forced into sex for years who gets pregnant and eventually kills herself. Sexual content includes a mention that adults "made love," and main (older teen) characters kiss and fall asleep together talking. Champagne is poured for these teen characters in two different stories. Most stories showcase the strength and resolve of the main female characters as they endure moments of isolation, manipulation, and fear.
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Finale to Popular Book Series Does Not Disappoint
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What's the Story?
Nine stories plucked from the Lunar Chronicles world include glimpses of early, difficult days for main characters. Readers meet Cress before she was confined to a satellite, Winter when she decided to stop using her lunar gift, Cinder when she first moved in with the Lihn family, and Thorne when he had his first real crush on a girl (and handled it badly). We also follow Kai to the market to meet Cinder for the first time, from his perspective instead of Cinder's, and find out how Scarlet came to live with her grandmother. The story "The Little Android" follows the tragic life of a droid instead of one of the well-known characters from the series; he develops a conscience and learns what jealousy is before he learns what selflessness is, too. The last story, "Something Old, Something New," imagines what happens after the story Winter when the four couples in the series all come together at Scarlet's farm for her wedding.
Is It Any Good?
This collection is like a lovely little parting gift for fans of Marissa Meyer's fairy tale-inspired world. Some stories feel like character backstory that got the ax from early drafts of Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter. If that's the case, they were cut for good reason -- they don't serve to move the story along -- but they do give fans more time to ponder how favorite characters grew up to conquer Luna. We see the trials of young Cress, Scarlet, Cinder, and Winter. Except for Winter's story, the author doesn't tap into the deeper emotions of these young characters. Maybe it's because the rest of their story is already told, but the lack of closeness takes away from the impact. One story, "The Little Android," takes on a totally new perspective but explores what is human and what is love in similar ways. Sometimes the writing is confusing, but the themes are solid and poignant.
The last story, "Something Old, Something New," is the ultimate gift for patient fans (spoiler alert): wedding bells and a few more surprises. It's the fan fiction you didn't have to write because the author wrote it for you. How's that for a nice ending?
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about what they learned about their favorite characters from the Lunar Chronicles through these stories, and why you think they weren't included in the original stories.
Why do you think author Marissa Meyer released this collection? In the first edition there's a preview of the author's first stand-alone novel, set for fall 2016 release. Do you think it's harder to market a stand-alone book now that so many sci-fi and fantasy books are parts of series? Do you prefer reading a series over stand-alone books?
What does the story "The Little Android" have to do with the other stories in the collection? Which themes are similar, despite having no recognizable characters from the series?
- Author: Marissa Meyer
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Topics: Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Fairy Tales, Friendship, Robots, Space and Aliens
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
- Publication date: February 2, 2016
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 18
- Number of pages: 400
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: July 13, 2017
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