“The first time, he had wondered why she liked books so much, and if it had anything to do with why he liked spaceships. Because they could take you somewhere far, far away from here.”
Stars Above is an incredible collection of short stories that take place within the world of Marissa Meyer’s The Lunar Chronicles series. Each story is unique and exciting, an added small glimpse into characters that I didn’t want to leave when I finished her fourth and final book in the series, Winter. I am so glad that these extra pieces exist and forever grateful for the fact that I can hold a copy in my own hand.
Marissa Meyer’s The Keeper is Michelle Benoit’s story. Well, I suppose you could say it is Michelle and Cinder’s story. It follows these two characters’ introduction to each other, though Cinder will be sleeping for the majority of it. Logan Tanner, a Lunar with whom she had a forbidden love affair that resulted in a child early in her years as a pilot appears on her doorstep one morning with a badly injured Lunar princess in tow. Soon she finds herself agreeing to take in and care for the child as she undergoes medical treatment and heals from the tragic ordeal.
This is, in a way, Cinder’s origin story.
It is also perhaps the most in-depth look into Michelle Benoit, a woman who is somewhat of a mystery throughout the course of Meyer’s Scarlet. Quite frankly, it is wonderful. I’m rather fond of the way this tale is told and how it is interwoven with both Cinder’s and Scarlet’s stories. It’s the connection piece that ties everything together.
As usual, written in Meyer’s exceptional voice, The Keeper never fails to drag you back into the world and lives of these exciting characters. And I loved every moment of it.
I loved Glitches from the very first moment I lay eyes on it. A perfect follow up to the story that precedes it, this tale allows us to experience some of Cinder’s first lucid moments on earth. Both heartwarming and heartbreaking all at once, it’s incredibly easy to fall for the innocent young cyborg girl who has yet to find a place.
It’s unfortunate that she will be stuck in this limbo for quite some time as a result of her horrid stepmother, Adri. At the same time, though, you’re definitely afforded a lot of insight into how Cinder would eventually grow to be quite bitter about the lot she was handed in life and everything she’s had to put up with over the years.
This is also the start of Cinder learning how to become a mechanic, a skill that will eventually lead to quite a lot of adventure in her life and one of the most important relationships she has. There are a lot of bitter moments in this story, but for all the sad bits there is one section that exists as a beacon of light both for Cinder and for the readers: this is the beginning of Iko.
Of all the short tales Marissa Meyer wrote, The Queen’s Army is probably my least favorite. It centers around Levana and the horrific genetic modifications she does to young children in her country. There’s no reading this short story without cringing, feeling utterly dismayed at the awful things all the innocent young boys are forced to go through at her hand. And this is also an origin story for Wolf, referred to as Z through the course of this story.
You get a sense of who he is and how he becomes the person at the beginning of Scarlet from reading it. There’s really not much about it that makes you feel anything good. Rather you’re left feeling dejected and appalled at the actions of this disturbing woman. Your heart breaks for Ze’ev and his family. It even break for all the other boys. And honestly? It’s really disturbing to think about.
But, without it, there would certainly be less of a story.
It is funny, though. I think Meyer missed an opportunity to really delve more deeply into issues of consent with Wolf’s story and the story of the many other boys who were genetically modified against their will. As I think back to how their story is depicted later on, particularly in the following graphic novels, I do feel a little disappointed.
Carswell’s Guide to Being Lucky
Of all the characters in Marissa Meyers’ The Lunar Chronicles, there is no question that I am most fond of Carswell Thorne. It is perhaps for this reason that I am also a massive fan of the short story she wrote featuring him exclusively. Carswell’s Guide to Being Lucky features adolescent Carswell making decisions that are perhaps not the best and shedding light on one of the stories that Cress cited regularly for why she was so in love with him before she’d even met him.
I love having further insight into characters via extra backstory. As my favorite character of the series, having this piece of his history was something I eagerly snatched up. In fact, the worst thing I can say about this story is that I’m sad I did not get more featuring Carswell as the center-focus.
Carswell’s Guide to Being Lucky follows our young Captian in high school as he navigates the world he is expected to be a part of and the person he wants to be. Failing grades in math prompt him to flirt quite heavily with a fellow classmate, Kate Fallow, and dreams of owning his own spaceship lead him to some rather shady business dealings with some less-than-ideal classmates. And as expected from a high school experience, there’s some bullying involved and a chance for Carswell himself to be a hero.
The thing about this story is that it really sets Carswell up for who he is when we first meet him at the beginning of Scarlet. We see the conflicts of his life and how the influences he had shaped him. But we also see the potential within Carswell for good, for being a compassionate and wonderful human being. And, of course, we also see his humorous side.
Truthfully, I remain quite in love with this boy.
As Sunshine Passes By
I honestly cannot read After Sunshine Passes By without tearing up. This is the origin story of Cress getting locked up in her satellite, the beginning of her isolation from the world. In a large way, this is a story about loss.
Cress loses everything in one fell swoop as a result of her skills. In an incredibly short period of time, she is ripped away from every single one of her peers and locked in a prison completely alone. This is the beginning of Cress’ isolation, of everything that separates her from every world she so desperately longs to be a part of. And she was so young when it first happened, making it even more devastating.
And, when coupled with Cress’ energetic enthusiasm to prove herself so that she may eventually be accepted, you can’t help but fall to piece once you get to the end of it all.
The Princess and the Guard
The Princess and the Guard is a dual origin story for Winter and Jacin and it is both beautiful and tragic. It’s easy to see how these two fell in love with each other. In fact, this is pretty much the story of them falling in love. At least, that’s how it begins.
Of course, Winter and Jacin’s story is much more than how they grew up together and, eventually, grew to love each other. Their lives were steeped in tragedy incredibly early on. And in a mere number of pages, Meyer manages to give her readers insight into various important moments in the lives of these two exceptional people.
There’s a brief moment of happiness in her childhood around Winter’s seventh birthday, but that all changes very quickly as the moments of tragedy begin to pile up. The first is an event with her father, leaving Winter without a true protector who could stand up to the horrors of Queen Levana. What follows is Winter’s coming of age, growing into a beautiful young woman as she learns some truths about the world she never imagined possible.
It is those truths that eventually leads Winter to make the decision to stop using her “gift,” an act that only serves to enrage the Queen later on. Readers follow Winter on her journey through the development of her Lunar Sickness, growing into herself to the point that Levana eventually punishes her for it, and finally ending in Jacin giving up on his own dream in order to be there for her.
It is fortunate we know by reading the original four books of the series that their tale has a happy ending, for the start of it all was steeped in far too much tragedy.
The Little Android
There’s something truly magical about Marissa Meyer’s retellings. In so many ways I’ve fallen in love with every tiny piece of writing that pertains to the world of The Lunar Chronicles. As an avid fan of the story of The Little Mermaid, Meyer’s The Little Android is unquestionably a story I’ve fallen in love with each and every time I read it. Though perhaps one of my least reread of Meyer’s work, the brilliance to this story makes it one of my most favored.
The story begins with Mech6.0, an android working in one of New Bejing’s hangars, though she dreams of being human herself. As a young engineer with whom Mech6.0 has become quite besotted falls into an oil vat, she wastes no time in jumping in after him to save his life. But androids are not meant to be submerged in oil and the act severely damages her tech body.
It is soon after that she manages to cross paths with renown mechanic, Linh Cinder, who though she is unable to fix Mech6.0, is able to install her personality chip into a new body. The only catch is that this new body, that of an escort droid, has no voice.
The story is one of the most clever takes on The Little Mermaid that I’ve seen and follows the Hans Christian Andersen tale more closely than it does the Disney version of the tale. Mech6.0, now known as Star, is able to return to her hanger and now sene as a person rather than a piece of technology. The tale is both beautiful and tragic, a Sci-Fi retelling of a story that many have known and loved for years.
And I, for one, could not imagine a better Little Android.
Ah! I adore this one so much. This is basically the first meeting between Cinder and Kai from the latter’s point of view and it is utterly adorable. You can’t help but fall in love with him all over again and find yourself rooting even more for their romance than you even thought was possible.
As he finds himself slowly falling for the endearing nature of Cinder, we as readers fall for them as a couple simply due to how utterly endearing, for lack of a better term, they are together. This is a short clip of their interaction but definitely one you can’t miss!
Something Old, Something New
Something Old, Something New is the last short story included in the Stars Above collection and it is just filled to the brim with feels! Aside from the more recent COVID-128 that Marissa released earlier this year and the graphic novels, this is the only true insight we get regarding what the crew is all up to after winning Cinder’s revolution at the end of the last book. It basically exists to pull on your heartstrings and leave you practically begging for more.
This is, at surface level, the story of Scarlet and Ze’ev (or Wolf)’s wedding. It’s beautiful, cute, and filled with exceptionally wonderful moments that leave you wishing they would never end.
Of course, near anyone reading this was immensely excited, I’m sure, by the fact that there is a Cinder and Kai moment in the end that just makes your heart soar. And it’s as exciting and wonderful as you expect. And, of course, it wouldn’t be complete for me if it didn’t have some lovely Cresswell moments, also.
Just expect to need more even as you reach its end.