Fairy Tale Re-reb-rebo-reboot-boot-boot-boot

Pardon my grogginess (and possible rambling), but I just finished a bender, no, a binge.

Two actually.

In recent weeks, I plowed through Marisa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles, then Chanda Hahn’s Unfortunate Fairy Tales, with more fever than I expected to muster for fairy tales. I’m not much of a fairy tale person since reading them in elementary school. The reboots—yes, even the TV shows—leave me with a bored eye roll and mock sigh feeling.

No fan fiction, please! If I’ve read one, then I’ve read them all, right?

In fact, I bought the Lunar Chronicles’s first book, Cinder, more than a year ago. Yet, I never read it. Instead, I kept it in a shed, gave it away, received another copy, and gave away the book again still unread. My local library’s Cinder audiobook caught my eyes another six months later. I couldn’t stop reading until the series’ end. Sure, all the fairy tale elements are still there—the stepfamily, the prince, the shoe.

The first Lunar Chronicles


However, Meyers steps away from the fairy tale premise and immerses the reader into the sci-fi world of hackers, stolen identifies, bioterrorism, and robotics. She managed to recreate the whole fairy tale mold into an unexpected sci-fi fantasy, so despite reading a well-known fairy tale, the story and characters are reborn and fresh.

This sci-fi/fantasy switch is more dedicated than romantic fairy tale reboots. Many romantic fairy tales keep the entire story but modernize it so that the prince’s mustang is a Mustang. The story doesn’t change, so the plot predictably marches toward the old-fashioned happily ever after ending that romances and fairy tales prefer. To that end, the rich prince remains enamored with a commoner who stumbles into love but must overcome her pointlessly mean-spirited step-fam–

Umm. Oops. <Cliquishly, biting my bottom lip>

Yeah, so, those parts are still in Cinder, but it’s not the same because . . .well . . . because Cinder is a partially bionic woman trying to save a humanity from a fast-moving plague that’s slowly killing the population. And her nemesis is an evil queen—

Wait! Wait! Let me finish!

The evil queen of Mars who may have created the plague to ease her overthrow of Earth.

Sure, there’s a niggling love at first sight moment, coy flirting, and a ball in this fairy tale turned sci-fi fantasy. Yes, the characters find their true loves and live happily ever after, but . . . but it’s different I swear.


The first Unfortunate Fairy Tale

The Unfortunate Fairy Tale series is a better example. Unfortunate Fairy Tales’s Mina Grime, the teenage descendant of the brothers Grimm, is cursed with reliving all the fairy tales ever told. If she plays her part correctly, she lives tale after tale until she ultimately breaks the curse on the Grimm line. If she fails, she dies, and the curse forces the next Grim, her mute younger brother, to accept the challenge.

There are hundreds of fairy tales, and she completed two in UnEnchanted, the first book of the series. That pace requires too many books.

However, the second book shifts away from the fairy tales with Mina in the protagonist role.  Instead, the plot devolves into the evil prince’s revenge on the Grimm line. See, he believes a certain Grimm betrayed him and caused his subsequent power loss. Three guesses who’s to blame for the curses. Meanwhile, our put-upon heroine Mina suffers to overcome villains, spells, and royalty from a mystical land.


Do reboots ever escape their predecessors?

Do fairy tales ever escape their genre?

Both Lunar Chronicles and Unfortunate Fairy Tales appear worlds away from the simple fairy tales that inspired them.  Nonetheless while most notable–the word of mouth retelling and once upon a time–elements are gone, the core fairy tale characteristics remain: a make-believe story of magic, castles and forests with villainous royalty, nice princesses and princes, and mistreated good guys aided by human-like animals. Even the large, bloody body count is a fairy tale tradition. And of course, the protagonists {spoiler alert} will fall in love with the handsome secondary character. {I’ll be kind and not tell you who, but it’s obvious when you read the novels.}

So, my been there, read that attitude is justified . . .

Sure, the stories’ plot patterns are predictable—if there’s a prince, the bionic woman’s going to the ball, right? However, the journey between the fairy tale elements was exciting, unpredictable, and binge-worthy. So, maybe reboots deserve an open-minded reading, and maybe romance does too.

<Cliquishly staring out a window before shaking myself out of thought>

OK, I need to track down Barbra Annino’s Everafter series. I’ve heard good things.

I may be addicted.

Are there steps for fairy tale addiction?