Let’s get this out of the way – Marissa Meyer is killing it. We already knew she was a rock star novelist, but graphic novels are a bit of a different beast. In a departure from the norm, Wires and Nerve is not merely a graphicalized* version of an existing book (which we’ve seen for series like Marie Lu’s Legend) but a continuation of her wildly popular Lunar Chronicles. Brand new stories, brand new medium, brand new awesome.
Wires and Nerve picks up shortly after the ending of Winter, but before the short story “Something Old, Something New” from the Stars Above collection. Cinder is busy being queen of Luna, Cress and Thorne are distributing letumosis antidote, Scarlet and Wolf have retreated to her farm in France, Kai is emperoring, Winter is Earth/Luna ambassadoring, and…Iko. Iko is…struggling. The too-often forgotten android member of the Lunar revolution yearns for a purpose, so she takes it upon herself to hunt down the rogue Lunar soldiers that have refused to leave Earth and are eating their way through the population.
That’s where the title comes from – wires and nerve are all Iko has to rely on as she hunts the fearsome mutants that tend to be tucked away in dank, disgusting places as opposed to five-star hotels. Her job would be so much better if they’d just hide in a five-star hotel. In the aftermath of her most recent raid, Iko uncovers a disturbing truth. The rogue wolf packs aren’t just hiding, they’re organizing. A cunning Lunar operative has filled the leadership vacuum left by Levana’s thaumaturges and is gathering other soldiers to launch a (misguided) assault on Cinder. But since Cinder is on Luna, and they’re stuck on Earth, they start by striking at anyone close to Cinder.
I think it’s important to note that Wires and Nerve is merely the first installment in what is set to be a duology. They’re graphic novels, and as such do not have the same depth in either plot or characterization as her traditional books. The one exception to this is Iko, whom we see more of than ever before as the leading lady. That being said, Wires and Nerve is so so fun, and if you’re looking for more of the Lunar Chronicles universe, this will definitely fill that void.
Iko is still gloriously vain, fabulously fascinated by her unusually expressive android personality, and utterly hilarious as she works through social conventions like how to show romantic affection. Her sturdy android body makes her extremely effective at hunting, though any and all fights with the rogue wolves are punctuated with Meyers’ unceasing wit. It’s not as emotionally heavy as the books, which I think is fitting, especially when considering the lighthearted nature of the principal character.
In addition to Iko, we get a nice look at some characters who weren’t as prominent in the Lunar Chronicles.
Thorne steals the spotlight in the best way possible with his unflagging bravado and gentle affection for Cress. His story is rounded out nicely as he makes the transition from deserter to revolutionary to respectable citizen. We also are re-introduced to Liam Kinney, a member of the Queen’s Guard who appears in Winter. Kinney is described by Iko as:
- one of the prettiest men on Luna
- one of Cinder’s most loyal guards since the beginning
- a jerk
Needless to say, Kinney and Iko do not get along, which makes it all the more entertaining when Cinder assigns him to accompany Iko on her missions, fearing her friend will eventually get herself into trouble that even an android can’t recover from. Their “love to hate” relationship is brilliantly funny. Our former leading ladies (Cinder, Cress, Scarlet, Winter) are moved to less prominent roles. I think this is mainly done to bring Iko to the forefront, a move aided by the fact that over-the-top personalities translate better to the graphic novel format than cool-headed logic. But don’t worry – we do see them!
In addition to old and new character favorites, Meyer draws on some of the themes left unresolved in the Lunar Chronicles. Iko’s “faulty” personality chip is foremost among them. She gives every appearance of having fully functioning human emotions, but there are many who would say that is inappropriate for a machine, eager to “fix” her and shove her back into a lower-class status. Kinney in particular is distrustful of such atypical android behavior, convinced it’s a ruse. This, combined with her budding sense of ownership of her mechanical body, unwilling to treat it as disposable, show us that the world still has work to do with how it treats androids and cyborgs.
The rogue wolves also bring in an important perspective. They believe that Cinder has the technology to reverse their mutations and is withholding it so she won’t lose her mindless soldiers. While they are truly mistaken in their assumptions, we are reminded that the fearsome beasts did not ask for that life, nor did they have any control of themselves during the war. The ghost of Levana’s slavery still hangs over Luna, and Cinder is grappling with how to balance mercy and justice.
I wasn’t sure what to expect going in, but Wires and Nerve is a fabulous, beautiful book that should please any fan of the Lunar Chronicles. The all-blue color palette is perfect, considering Iko’s latest (and permanent?) body has blue hair. The art is fun and expressive, especially for the three aforementioned prominent characters. While it would definitely be more immersive to have read the Lunar Chronicles first, I will say that there’s a small intro section that ever so briefly recaps that storyline if you have a reluctant reader. I can’t say it enough – it’s just FUN. Fun fun fun fun fun. And…fun.
*Not a word.