Monday, September 28, 2015

Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian 

Synopsis: Six days ago astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now he's sure he'll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded on Mars's surface, with no way to signal to Earth that he's alive. And even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone years before a rescue could arrive. 

Chances are, though, Mark won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain old 'human error' are much more likely to kill him first. 

Armed with nothing but his ingenuity, his engineering skills - and a gallows sense of humor that proves to be his greatest source of strength - Mark embarks on a dogged quest to stay alive. But will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

Date Published: February 11, 2014
Published By: Crown
Number of Pages: 369
Rating: 4/5

With the film version of The Martian set to release this week, I'm sure a few people will be wondering, 'Do I need to read the book first?'

Um, fuck yeah, you need to read the book first. What kind of question is that anyway? 

Even though The Martian is set on Mars, at its heart, it is a traditional man-versus-nature survival story. Mark Watney has the odds stacked against him. I mean, this guy is stranded by himself on a freaking planet. There's no way he'll survive. 

I'm not going to spoil the entire book and tell you if he does or not. I will tell you that this is one of the most unputdownable books I've read in a long time. I really found myself rooting for Mark - I was ecstatic when he overcame a problem and devastated when he encountered yet another setback. Mark may not be facing an antagonist that is deliberately trying to kill him but he may as well be. But the great thing is that Mars is indifferent as to whether Mark survives or not. It adds this wonderful tension to the story - you don't know when something is going to go wrong, you just know that it will.

One of the things that makes The Martian so realistic and believable is the amount of technical detail embedded in the story. Mark, as an astronaut, has a lot of scientific know-how and he puts it to good use throughout his ordeal. So there are a lot of calculations and chemistry and science jargon peppered throughout the narrative. Did I find myself skimming over some of the more technical aspects? Yes, once or twice. The good thing about The Martian is you don't need to have a master's degree in astrophysics to understand what's going on. Even if you flunked high school chemistry, there's enough exposition (told in Mark Watney's witty POV) to help you get the gist.

I would say the most entertaining thing about The Martian is Mark Watney himself. Even when he's stranded on an inhospitable planet by himself staring death in the face, he keeps his sense of humor. And it is dark. Mark frequently jokes about potentially dying on Mars and I think this is the one thing that keeps him sane. I mean, you might as well joke about it, right? It's either that or run around in panicked circles, screaming your head off. Mark's sense of humor makes him such a relatable character that you can't help but hope that he makes it. And one of the most unsettling parts of the story is the knowledge that he might not.

The Martian is one of the best science fiction books that I've ever read. Do yourself a favor and read the book before going to see the movie. 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Review: Opposition (Lux #5) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

 Opposition (Lux, #5) 

Synopsis: Katy knows the world changed the night the Luxen came. She can't believe Daemon stood by as his kind threatened to obliterate every last human on Earth. But the lines between good and bad have blurred. 

Daemon will do anything to save those he loves, even if it means betrayal. But when it quickly becomes impossible to tell friend from foe, and the world is crumbling around them, they may lose everything to ensure the survival of their friends...and mankind.

Date Published: August 5, 2014
Published By: Entangled Teen
Number of Pages: 352
Rating: 4/5

I am so glad I got into the Lux series after all of the books had been published because I think the wait between each book would have killed me. Having said that, I also wish I had read this series sooner because I love it so much! I cannot get enough of Daemon and Kat and now I'm so sad that it's over. 

Opposition is definitely the most action-packed book in the series with a lot of different twists and turns, where friends become enemies and enemies become friends(ish.) At the beginning of the book, Kat and Daemon are separated because Daemon was initially brainwashed by the invading Luxen. They don't stay apart for too long, however, which is a relief. And the only thing better than a Kat/Daemon reunion is some Kat/Daemon action. And there is a lot of that in Opposition which makes me all 'warm and fuzzy' as Kat would say. 

Even though Kat and Daemon have to deal with an alien invasion and the possible annihilation of mankind, this book is more of a romance than an action/adventure type story. I can't decide what I like better: Kat and Daemon's love/hate relationship in the earlier books or their full-on love relationship in the last three books. Either way, they have unbelievably hot chemistry and I get all giddy inside during the romance scenes. Kat + Daemon = Relationship Goals.

The story of course, has a happy ending but Kat and Daemon both face tragedy and heartbreak along the way. What's really touching is seeing how they support each other and protect each other. Daemon finally learns to see that Kat can take of herself but Kat also learns to allow herself to be vulnerable with Daemon. It really is a wonderfully romantic story. The whole alien invasion is kind of like a subplot. Nothing is more interesting in the Lux series than Daemon's and Kat's relationship. 

Now I will be patiently awaiting the publication of Oblivion which is the first book told in Daemon's POV.

Oblivion (Lux, #1.5)


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Review: Origin (Lux #4) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

 Origin (Lux, #4) 

Synopsis: Daemon will do anything to get Katy back.

After the successful but disastrous raid on Mount Weather, he's facing the impossible. Katy is gone. Taken. Everything becomes about finding her. Taking out anyone who stands in his way? Done. Burning down  the whole world to save her? Gladly. Exposing his alien race to the world? With pleasure.

All Katy can do is survive.

Surrounded by enemies, the only way she can come out of this is to adapt. After all, there are sides of Daedalus that don't seem entirely crazy, but the group's goals are frightening and the truths they speak are even more disturbing. Who are the real bad guys? Daedalus? Mankind? Or the Luxen?

Together they can face anything.

But the most dangerous foe has been there all along, and when the truths are exposed and the lies come crumbling down, which side will Daemon and Katy be standing on? And will they even be together?

Date Published: August 27, 2013
Published  By: Entangled Teen
Number of Pages: 366
Rating: 4/5

Origin definitely marks a real turning point in the Lux series. It feels a bit heavier than the previous books, which makes sense seeing as how Kat is being held captive by a secretive government organization. It reminded me a little bit of the movie District 9 where the government is conducting sadistic and cruel experiments on both humans and aliens. Kat and Daemon are basically tortured, both physically and psychologically at some point in the story. What's really disturbing is that it seems realistic that the government would be doing such awful things if aliens really did live among us. 

I love how Origin is told from both Kat's and Daemon's POV, instead of just Kat's. Reading how Daemon truly feels about Kat and how much pain it causes him to see her in such a hopeless situation gets me right in the feels. Plus, the sexy parts told in his POV are REALLY hot. 

The ending is really action-packed and feels truly epic. Not everyone makes it out alive and while the deaths of some of Kat and Daemon's friends are sad, I wouldn't say that they are truly heart-wrenching. While I feel that Kat and Daemon are great characters that I connect with, the supporting characters aren't as well-developed so when something happens to them, I find it difficult to care very much. 

Still, I loved Origin and I cannot wait to see how everything plays out in the fifth and final book. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Review: Opal (Lux #3) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

 Opal (Lux, #3) 

Synopsis: No one is like Daemon Black.

When he set out to prove his feelings for me, he wasn't fooling around. Doubting him isn't something I'll do again, and now that we've made it through the rough patches, well...There's a lot of spontaneous combustion going on. 

But even he can't protect his family from the danger of trying to free those they love.

After everything, I'm no longer the same Katy. I'm different...And I'm not sure what that will mean in the end. When each step we take in discovering the truth puts us in the path of the secret organization responsible for torturing and testing hybrids, the more I realize there is no end to what I'm capable of. The death of someone close still lingers, help comes from the most unlikely source, and friends will become the deadliest of enemies, but we won't turn back. Even if the outcome will shatter our worlds forever. 

Together we're stronger...and they know it.

Date Published: December 11, 2012
Published By: Entangled Teen
Number of Pages: 382
Rating: 4/5

Reading the third book in the Lux series, I realized what makes it so enjoyable: it reads like a well-written fan fiction. There's steamy romance scenes sprinkled throughout a story packed with action and drama and yet, the Lux series never takes itself seriously. The books are told from Katy's point of view so the narrative is full of teen slang and fangirl speak. And it's awesome! It's just so much fun reading a book free of literary pretension. (Don't get me wrong, I love pretentious literary books as much as the next girl. I'm just saying sometimes it's nice to read something that's pure brain candy.) 

In Opal, now that Daemon and Dee's brother Dawson has been rescued and brought back home, Kat and her entourage of alien friends set out to rescue Dawson's girlfriend Beth, who, like Kat, has also been mutated into a human/alien hybrid and is being imprisoned by the DOD. They are offered help from Kat's former friend/brief love interest Blake, who nobody trusts, but seeing as he's the only person they know who is familiar with the facility where Beth is being kept, they have no choice but to accept his help. Actually, he kind of blackmails them into it, just to make sure that we all know what a total douche he is. 

So that's the main problem. There is also a lot of Kat/Daemon action going on in this book and , I must say, it's pretty swoonworthy. But (and I laugh every time this happens) THEY KEEP GETTING INTERRUPTED! At least twice in the book Kat and Daemon are ready to get it on but someone inevitably walks in on them and ruins their private sexy time. It's like, what are the odds, right? But, eventually they get some alone time and make it happen, and it''s kind of amazing. Okay, it's not explicit or anything, which is a shame, but it's pretty hot by YA standards. 

The ending was a little bit predictable but still exciting to read. I'm intrigued to see where Jennifer L. Armentrout takes the story in the next book. 

I'm really enjoying this series so far and I have now added Daemon Black to my official list of Book Boyfriends. If you need me, I'll be reading Origin and cursing the fact that Daemon Black is fictional. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Review: Onyx (Lux #2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

 Onyx (Lux, #2) 

Synopsis: Being connected to Daemon Black sucks…

Thanks to his alien mojo, Daemon’s determined to prove what he feels for me is more than a product of our bizarro connection. So I’ve sworn him off, even though he’s running more hot than cold these days. But we’ve got bigger problems.

Something worse than the Arum has come to town…

The Department of Defense are here. If they ever find out what Daemon can do and that we're linked, I’m a goner. So is he. And there's this new boy in school who’s got a secret of his own. He knows what’s happened to me and he can help, but to do so, I have to lie to Daemon and stay away from him. Like that's possible. Against all common sense, I'm falling for Daemon. Hard.

But then everything changes…

I’ve seen someone who shouldn’t be alive. And I have to tell Daemon, even though I know he’s never going to stop searching until he gets the truth. What happened to his brother? Who betrayed him? And what does the DOD want from them—from me?

No one is who they seem. And not everyone will survive the lies…

Date Published: August 14, 2012
Published By: Entangled Teen
Number of Pages: 421
Rating: 4/5

The second book in the Lux series has just as much freaky alien action and hot romance as the first book, with a touch more angst. With book two comes the inevitable love triangle what with the appearance of new kid in town Blake Saunders. This leads to a whole series of misunderstandings and emotional twists and turns for Daemon and Kat. At first, Kat is determined to convince Daemon that there is nothing between them but as soon as she realizes that things might not work out with Daemon, she realizes the true depth of her feelings for him. (Typical, right?) So, like I said, this book is stuffed full of romantic angst which is usually fun for a while but pretty soon I felt like screaming, 'Oh my God, just get together already!' 

But there are still plenty of scorching hot moments between Kat and Daemon to satisfy the part of me that craves kissing scenes. (OOOOHHH MY GOD, THE LIBRARY SCENE!) And the love triangle isn't really a love triangle at all but an interesting plot device that takes the narrative somewhere unexpected. 

There is a lot going on in this book - Kat discovering her newfound abilities, the mysterious activities of the DOD, the truth about Daemon's supposedly dead brother, the whole 'what's up with this Blake guy?' thing - it's all very interesting and makes for an exciting page-turner but a part of me was hoping for slightly more Kat/Daemon action. 

There are some incredibly sweet moments between them like when Daemon helps Kat decorate her Christmas tree or when he films one of her book videos with her. Seriously, these two are so cute together that it should make me want to throw up but I am just so invested in their relationship that I can't help but root for them. GAH! Reading the Lux series makes me feel like a teenager again and I didn't even read these kinds of books when I was a teenager!

Okay, I better wrap this up before I dissolve into a puddle of sticky, sentimental goo. On to the the next book in the series!

P.S. - In case any of you were wondering, I picture Daemon Black as Jonathan Rhys Meyers

Oh yeah, he could definitely play a sexy alien. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Review: Obsidian (Lux #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Obsidian (Lux, #1) 

Synopsis:  Starting over sucks.

When we moved to West Virginia right before my senior year, I’d pretty much resigned myself to thick accents, dodgy internet access, and a whole lot of boring… until I spotted my hot neighbor, with his looming height and eerie green eyes. Things were looking up.

And then he opened his mouth.

Daemon is infuriating. Arrogant. Stab-worthy. We do not get along. At all. But when a stranger attacks me and Daemon literally freezes time with a wave of his hand, well, something… unexpected happens. 

The hot alien living next door marks me.

You heard me. Alien. Turns out Daemon and his sister have a galaxy of enemies wanting to steal their abilities, and Daemon’s touch has me lit up like the Vegas Strip. The only way I’m getting out of this alive is by sticking close to Daemon until my alien mojo fades. 

If I don’t kill him first, that is.

Date Published: May 8, 2012
Published By: Entangled Teen
Number of Pages: 377
Rating: 4/5

The Lux series is often described as 'Twilight with aliens' so I was a little apprehensive when I picked up Obsidian. Would I be subjected to yet another lame heroine and her abusive boyfriend? Would the book have any sort of plot whatsover? (Off topic, but another question: Will I ever get past my Twilight prejudice?)

My fears were dispelled within the first chapter of the book. Katy is an awesome heroine: bookish, smart, and full of sass. When she first meets Alien-Next-Door Daemon Black, sparks fly - and not the romantic kind. Katy writes him off as a condescending douchebag and ends up flipping him off. Daemon provokes her every time they meet by calling her 'Kitten' and doing everything he can to piss her off. Of course, Katy can't help but want him because he's the hottest guy she's ever met, but she remains adamant that she doesn't like him. Daemon obviously wants Kat but because he's an alien living on a foreign planet, getting too close to a human is risking exposure for him and his sister. He's determined to drive Kat away - or at the very least, drive her crazy. 

This all makes for some smoking hot chemistry. I like how Katy sometimes lets her hormones get the better of her (something that happens when you're a horny teenager) but she never turns into a vapid, boy-crazy drone. And while Daemon can be a jerk, he has a genuine reason for wanting to drive her away. I love how one minute they're both snapping at each other and the next they're sharing a genuinely sweet moment. The whole 'I-hate-you-so-much-but-I-want-you-so-bad-but-I-also-might-love-you' thing is nothing new in romance but when it's done well, it's incredibly hot. (And speaking of hot - that make out scene? Arrrrgggghhhh, SO GOOD!) 

And can we talk about the ending for a minute? Where Daemon's like 'I think we should be together,' and Kat's like 'You act like an asshole, and I deserve better, so no.' I LOVED it. It was amazing to see this teenage girl recognize her own worth and know that she deserved to be treated better and wasn't going to put up with his crap. Such a powerful ending and I can't wait to see how Daemon's and Kat's relationship plays out in the next book. 

There are a few moments in the book that are a little cliched. For example, Daemon saves Katy from a would-be date rapist. There's the inevitable 'reveal' scene where Daemon tells Katy he's an alien and neatly explains everything to her in one chapter. But I can forgive Obsidian for these missteps because it never takes itself too seriously. The book is packed with jokes and snappy dialogue and it's just so much fun. And I think books like this should be fun. 

One thing I think we can all agree on is that hot aliens are the best kind of aliens. 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Reading Wish List: September 2015

  There are so many books coming out this month, it's not even funny. How am I supposed to keep up!

Sept. 1

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4) by Sarah J. Maas
Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass, #4)

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Everything, Everything

Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith
Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between

Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman
Vengeance Road

Hunter (Hunter #1) by Mercedes Lackey
Hunter (Hunter, #1)

Sorcerer to the Crown (Sorcerer Royal #1) by Zen Cho
Sorcerer to the Crown (Sorcerer Royal, #1)

Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick deWitt
Undermajordomo Minor

Begging For It (Asking for It #2) by Lilah Pace
Begging for It (Asking for It, #2)

Dragon Heart by Cecelia Holland
Dragon Heart: A Fantasy Novel

The Dragon Engine (The Blood Dragon Empire #1) by Andy Remic
The Dragon Engine (The Blood Dragon Empire, #1)

The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps by Kai Ashante Wilson
The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps

Twelve Kings in Sharahkhai (The Song of the Shattered Sands #1) by Bradley P. Beaulieu
Twelve Kings in Sharakhai (The Song of Shattered Sands #1)

Sept. 8

Serpentine (Kingdom of Xia #1) by Cindy Pon
Serpentine (Kingdom of Xia #1)

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning by Timothy Snyder
Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning

The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell
The Wolf Wilder

The Sleeping King by Cindy Dees & Bill Flippin
The Sleeping King: A Novel

Sept. 15

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy

The Marvels by Brian Selznick
The Marvels

The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore
The Weight of Feathers

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
Fates and Furies

Sept. 22

Library of Souls (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children #3) by Ransom Riggs
Library of Souls (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children, #3)

Walk on Earth a Stranger (The Gold Seer Trilogy #1) by Rae Carson
Walk on Earth a Stranger (The Gold Seer Trilogy, #1)

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson
Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Sept. 29

Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1) by Leigh Bardugo
Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood
The Heart Goes Last

Review: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass 

Date Published: Wonderland: 1865/Looking Glass: 1871
This Edition Published By: Penguin Classics
Number of Pages:  357
Rating: 4/5

This year marks the 150th anniversary of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. As I was re-reading it, I could definitely see why Alice has remained popular for so long. 

Both Alice adventures have a surreal, dream-like quality to them where anything can happen and nothing is as it seems. The stories are full of wordplay, poetry, oddball characters, and bizarre scenes but, seeing as Carroll was a skilled logician, the nonsense in the story makes sense. There's a method to Carroll's madness.

Out of the two Alice stories, Adventures in Wonderland is my favorite. It's more fun than Looking Glass and it has my favorite character, the Cheshire Cat. There's just something so absurd/sadistic about a grinning cat that can disappear at will.

Alice in Wonderland is so ingrained in pop culture that most people know the general story without ever having read the book. I do think everyone should read it at least once in their lifetime because it's such an enjoyable story that still appeals to children and adults. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles #3.5) by Marissa Meyer

 Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles, #3.5) 

Synopsis: Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her 'glamour' to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story - a story that has never been told...until now.

Date Published: January 27, 2015
Published By: Feiwel & Friends
Number of Pages: 220
Rating: 5/5

I love stories told from the villain's point of view and Fairest is one of the most perfect villain origin stories that I've ever read. It's been said that the best villains don't view themselves as villains but as heroes and it's true in Queen Levana's case. Every twisted, vindictive thing she does is justified. Levana wholeheartedly believes that everything she is doing is for the good of her people and the good of her country. But it's clear to the reader that Levana only wants to be seen as the fairest queen that Luna has ever had. Obsessed with beauty, she seeks power and control and has no trouble disposing of those that get in her way. 

We see that Levana's life is not without tragedy or heartbreak but you don't end up sympathizing with her because her manipulation and greed for power is so abhorrent. Fairest helps the reader to understand Levana but not care for her. Levana is someone who manipulates the man she claims to love into marrying her even though he clearly does not love her in return. Levana doesn't care though. She convinces herself that her husband really does love her and just needs a little coaxing, a little persuading. She continually brainwashes him even when he begs her to stop. Still, she thinks she is doing the right thing. And that is what is so awful about Levana. She does not recognize her own awfulness. 

Fairest is required reading for fans of the other books in The Lunar Chronicles. Not only do you get insight into the main villain of the series, but you also get a glimpse into Lunar society, something I suspect will feature prominently in the final book. Be forewarned: Fairest is a chilling read - especially those final few pages. 

Review: Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer

 Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, #3) 

Synopsis: In this third book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they're plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who's only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she's just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.

Date Published: February 4, 2014
Published By: Feiwal & Friends
Number of Pages: 550
Rating: 5/5

Cress is definitely the best book in The Lunar Chronicles so far, and that's saying something considering I loved the previous two, Cinder and Scarlet. Cress has an epic feel to it, a kind of space opera but on a smaller scale.

I love how Cress has such a big role to play in this book (obviously). She is definitely one of my favorite characters because she uses her imagination to help her when she's scared or unsure. She pretends to be a famous actress or a fearless explorer when she's facing potentially life-threatening situations. Her use of make believe is probably a result from being cooped up on a satellite for so long and while it does make her naive at times, she is by no means a weak character. She might not be as tough as Cinder or Scarlet but she remains true to herself throughout the entire book and finds her own inner strength in the end. 

Cress is romantically linked to Captain Carswell Thorne (another of my favorite characters) but their relationship gets off to a shaky start. Cress is convinced that she is already head over heels in love with Thorne before she even meets him and Thorne is...well, kind of a player, it seems. He hides behind his charm and his sarcasm and he rarely displays any kind of real emotion at first. That's why when you see him start to care about Cress without admitting it to her or to himself, it makes for amazing romantic tension. I am so rooting for Cress and Thorne to end up together and get their happy ending. 

Speaking of endings, the climax of the book is so perfect. It is perfectly paced, with just the right amount of tension. The last hundred pages or so fly by as you turn page after page, cheering on your heroes, gripping the book tight when something inevitably goes wrong. The last page sets the stage for Winter and the final book can not get here fast enough. 

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Review: Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Meyer

Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles, #2) 

Synopsis: Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She's trying to break out of prison - even though if she succeeds, she'll be the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit's grandmother is missing. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information about her grandmother's whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

Date Published: February 5, 2013
Published By: Feiwel and Friends
Number of Pages: 452
Rating: 5/5

The second installment of the Lunar Chronicles is just as exciting and action-packed as the first book, with some awesome new characters and unexpected plot twists.

I love how the story goes back and forth between different POVs so you get more in depth into the story and you get to know all of the characters better. Telling the story from multiple points of view has the potential to become confusing and tedious but Marissa Meyer handles the various POVs with a masterful sense of pacing and plotting. It makes for a real page-turner.

My favorite new character in Scarlet is Captain Carswell Thorne, a thief being held in New Beijing prison who helps Cinder break out and joins her on the run. He's charming, funny, and oh-so-swoonworthy. I love how he and Cinder clash in the beginning because of their different personalities and then go on to form a tentative friendship towards the end of the book. I don't think I've seen a platonic male/female friendship work so well since Harry and Hermione. 

And of course there is the other, not-so-platonic relationship between Scarlet and the mysterious Wolf. I think their romance develops quite naturally and it's nice that there's a scene where the girl makes the first move. Poor Wolf is torn between his developing feelings for Scarlet and his loyalty to...well, I won't spoil it but I will say that Wolf's struggle leads to a genuinely shocking moment and afterwards it seems like there couldn't possibly be any sort of reconciliation between Wolf and Scarlet.

Is there? You'll have to read the book to find out ;)

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Review: Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer

 Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1) 

Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Cinder is considered a technological mistake by most of society and a burden to her stepmother. Being cyborg does have its benefits, though. Cinder's brain interface has given her an uncanny ability to fix things (robots, hovers, her own malfunctioning parts), making her the best mechanic in New Beijing. This reputation brings Prince Kai himself to her weekly market booth, needing her to repair a broken android before the annual ball. He jokingly calls it 'a matter of national security,' but Cinder suspects it's more serious than he's letting on. 

Although eager to impress the prince, Cinder's intentions are derailed when her younger stepsister, and only human friend, is infected with the fatal plague that's been devastating Earth for a decade. Blaming Cinder for her daughter's illness, Cinder's stepmother volunteers her body for plague research, an 'honor' that no one has survived. 

But it doesn't take long for the scientists to discover something unusual about their new guinea pig. Something others would kill for.

Date Published: January 3, 2012
Published By: Feiwel & Friends
Number of Pages: 390
Rating: 5/5

I remember being intrigued by this book ever since I first heard of it. Cinderella is a cyborg? Sign me up! I thought that alone was interesting but once I read Cinder I was totally captivated by everything about this book. 

Cinder is an amazing character. She's smart, she's capable and she is incredibly selfless. I mean, how many female protagonists in YA literature do you come across who are mechanics? Or cyborgs, for that matter. I'm also happy that Cinder gets incredible angry sometimes. And she has good reason to be angry with all of the shit she has to deal with throughout the book. A vindictive stepmother, prejudice against cyborgs, being 'volunteered' to be experimented on, a murderous queen, etc. Cinder lets people know when she's angry and I love seeing that because it lets young women know that it's okay to express their own feelings, even the so-called 'negative' ones. 

I also love how the romance between Prince Kai and Cinder is played out. Cinder spends most of the book trying to resist her attraction to Kai because she thinks he'll be mortified if he finds out she's a cyborg. She even refuses him when he asks her to the ball! (How often does that happen in fairy tales?) It isn't until towards the end of the book, when Cinder is attempting to save his life, that she realizes her true feelings for him. Unfortunately, Kai and Cinder cannot quite attain their Happily Ever After. Not in this book anyway.

Now, on to the world-building. When crafting a fictional world, either in a fantasy or a sci-fi novel, detail and authenticity are extremely important. If I don't buy into your world, then I won't buy into your story. Luckily, Marissa Meyer is a master of world-building and has crafted a totally believable and vivid futuristic world. I loved seeing how technology has evolved in the world with things like hovers, androids, ID chips, and portscreens. It all feels like Meyer has taken the technology that exists today and projected it far into the future, so that it's fictional while still being recognizable. 

What is the best part about this series is that Marissa Meyer has taken a fairy tale that has been retold thousands of times and given it a completely new twist. And it's not gimmicky at all. The story stands up on its own as a science fiction story with great characters, an interesting plot, and awesome world-building. You do not have to like fairy tales to enjoy Cinder. 

Highly, highly recommended to sci-fi fans and fans of fairy tale retellings. Cinder is definitely one of my favorite sci-fi reads of all time.