Cinder works well to set the theme, by going with one of the most well-known fairy-tales. The sci-fi aspects and world around her is intricately crafted. It feels like the world was made first, then the characters placed inside it. Most everyone will find themselves working out the big twist before Cinder does, but that works too, as the reader starts to wonder when she'll find out and what she'll do when she does. It’s a lot darker than idealistic fairy-tale settings, but the overall message of the series is one of hope, of the actions of the few benefiting the many, of love and friendship conquering all. Okay, not that last one so much, but the girls’ quest would have been much harder if they didn’t have each other and their respective love interests.
I feel Scarlet suffers because a reader picking it up just after finishing Cinder may be more interested in Cinder’s story of being a fugitive on the run, rather than Scarlet’s attempts to rescue her Grandmother, until towards to end where both stories come together. I found myself more excited to read Cinder’s parts of the story in Scarlet. Cress and Winter avoid this pitfall by tying into the larger overall story earlier in their respective books. The fact that both had cameos in earlier books helps the reader feel more intrigue towards them, too. This isn't to say that Scarlet is a bad book, as when the stories come together, they do it well.
Cress is perhaps my personal favourite of the four. The overarching story is starting to build up, and we’re properly introduced to Cress. This one hits the ground running, with Cress starting in her satellite where she hacks into the databases of governments on Earth. She quickly gets embroiled in the story of the other girls
When you start reading Winter, set yourself aside a good few afternoons to read it. It’s long. However, never once did I feel like it was too long or overly bloated. Everything in it served to contribute to the overall story, and to develop the characters and build up the world around it.
As a set of fairy-tale retellings, there is obviously some romance there, too. There are four different pairings over the course of the books, and each one is well-written and believable. I found myself routing for each one of them. The lack of love triangles is to the series absolute benefit.
I love how each of the four girls are different from each other. They all have different talents and personalities. Cinder is a mechanic, who deals with her situations with a good helping of snark. She is also a teenage girl in way over her head, in a situation she never asked for, dealing with things she should never have had to. Scarlet is a farm girl with a business head on her shoulders and is awesome with a shotgun. Cress has many anxieties and doubts in herself, but she’s also a programmer and hacker unparalleled by most governments. Winter is the nicest girl you could ever meet, and her sweet nature helps them get many people on their side.
I highly recommend this series to anyone who likes fairy-tales, anyone who likes romances, and anyone who likes sci-fi. While the premise might put some people off, the sci-fi elements are really well done and blended into the story. Really, though, it’s a great series that I’d be happy to recommend to anyone who likes good stories.