What defines someone as human? Can a personable android actually have emotions and thoughts independent of programming? With the modern advance of technology, these futuristic questions may soon present themselves. Whether or not humans face this dilemma, though, the concept is still an interesting one to explore, and science fiction opens up a medium in which authors and audiences can examine the questions in fictional situations. Although androids and the definition of humanity have been present throughout Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles, they have remained side issues until the release of her most recent graphic novel Wires and Nerve: Gone Rogue.
Loveable and loyal android Iko is still on her mission to stop the Lunar wolf soldiers, especially the ringleader Lysander Steele, who are loose and terrorizing Earthens. Meanwhile, Cinder is trying to improve precarious relations between Luna and Earth and is setting in motion her plan to abdicate the throne and establish a Lunar democracy. On an Earth which is still recovering from the ravages of disease and war, Emperor Kai plans the annual peace festival that may not be so peaceful thanks to Steele and the wolf soldiers.
With these issues as a backdrop, Meyer uses her graphic novel to discuss challenging questions through her characters. Confronting Lysander Steele at one point in the novel, Cinder tells him, “[U]ltimately it’s our actions that turn us into monsters. Just as our actions determine our humanity” (194). While I disagree that non-humans’ actions can make them human—such as the story seems to argue in Iko’s case—, I do think that actions play a part in identity and what or who we become. Actions flow from a person’s existing identity and then reinforce it. Lysander Steele and the other Lunar wolf soldiers turn into the monsters they appear to be because of who they are at heart and their consequent choices and actions, and yet just as humans so often do, they blame their behavior and problems on others, even though all the Lunar government could ever do was alter their outward appearance. In Gone Rogue, Meyer points out that ultimately, no matter what other people may have done to us or whether we are misfits in society, we remain responsible for our actions.
For those of you who have kept up with The Lunar Chronicles and read the first Wires and Nerve graphic novel, the general elements of Gone Rogue are much the same. Overall, the story seems a little less polished than the first Wires and Nerve, but mostly in little ways, such as misspellings and confusing action scenes. I also continue to disagree with some of the portrayals of characters, especially how the Lunar wolf soldiers look (more about that in my review of the first graphic novel). However, the characters and story remain fun and thought-provoking. I am still undecided about some of the book’s themes, but I appreciate how Marissa Meyer uses her stories to grapple with the challenging issues of responsibility, love, trust, and identity.