Monday, April 10, 2017

Stars Above - Marissa Meyer (Lunar Chronicles #4.5)

Stars Above (The Lunar Chronicles, #4.5)It's become popular in recent years to YA authors to write a slew of short stories that accompany their full-length works.  Marissa Meyer is no different in that, around the time she released Winter, she also released this volume, Stars Above, comprised of short stories set in the Lunar Chronicles universe.  Most of them deal directly with the main characters from the series.

I'm a firm believer that authors don't "owe" short stories like this to their readers, and that when they're written, they typically don't really add much to the series.  That's definitely the case here.  There are nine stories of varying lengths in this book, and eight of them, while enjoyable, are just fine.  They don't really add anything to the Lunar Chronicles experience that wasn't laid out in the main works.  Yes, the stories expound a bit more upon things that were just mentioned in the main works, but they don't resolve any plot holes or offer any big revelations.

The big exception to this, as other reviewers have noted, is a wonderful gem of a story called "The Little Android."  It deals with none of the characters from the main books, though just as each main heroine's story was patterned after a fairy tale, so is this.  The story here is, of course, "The Little Mermaid," except the mermaid is an android who'd developing a personality and emotions of her own.  It's a beautiful, heart-wrenching story that fits into the world and helps expand on it without feeling the need to pander to fans.  If the stories in the collection had all been like this, I think I would have had a much higher opinion of the book as a whole than I actually ended up with.

The other stories are just okay.  There's one about Michelle Benoit getting Cinder and Scarlet, one about Cinder going to live with the Linh family, one about Wolf becoming a recruit in the Lunar army, one about Thorne while he was in school, one about Cress going to live in the satellite, another with background on Winter and Jacin, Cinder and Kai's meeting from Kai's perspective, and finally one that takes place after the end of the main Lunar Chronicles which details Scarlet and Wolf's wedding.  That was a cute one, but again, nothing that I absolutely couldn't live without and that I hadn't figured would happen anyway.

Overall, this is a cute addition to the series and it looks nice on the shelf, but there's only one real gem here.  Writing short stories is an art that requires a completely different set of skills than writing full-length novels, and if it hadn't been for "The Little Android," I would think that Meyer hadn't quite honed those skills yet.  "The Little Android" absolutely glowed, though, and I wish Meyer had taken the time to expand her universe rather than just her already-established stories, because that universe expansion is definitely what worked best here.

3 stars out of 5 for the whole.

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