Cress by Marissa Meyer

Cress by Marissa MeyerCinder and Captain Thorne are on the run in a stolen spaceship, and they have teamed up with Scarlet and Wolf in order to overthrow Queen Levana. In order to do this, they must seek help from Cress, a girl who has been imprisoned on a satellite since she was a child. Cress is an excellent computer hacker because she has had nothing and nobody but her netscreens the entire time she has been imprisoned. The problem is that Cress has just received orders to track down Cinder and her accomplices for Queen Levana.

I had highly anticipated the released of this book and I am pleased to say that it was well worth the wait! Each book in this series gets better and better, and Cress definitely did not disappoint. In this book we meet Cress, who is basically Rapunzel but instead of being imprisoned in a tower she is on a satellite orbiting Earth. Her social skills are a bit lacking because she has been imprisoned alone for so many years, but for a girl who has spent so much time alone she is very bright and strong.

When Cinder and her group attempt to rescue Cress from the satellite so that she can help their team, they run into trouble and the group ends up separated. Cress is finally free of her prison but is now lost along with Captain Thorne, and the Cinder must do everything in her power to stop Queen Levana from marrying Emperor Kai.

I love the way each of these books focuses on a new character each time but still allows us to see what is happening to the other characters as well. Cress is a great new character and at first seems so childlike and innocent because she has been alone for so long but I like how she is able to become strong and hold her own. I also love the way the relationships between the other characters are still developing three books later and it doesn’t feel like anything between them has been dragged out or fallen flat. Meyer does an excellent job of keeping the story going and keeping the relationships interesting.

Overall, Cress was an excellent and exciting follow up to Scarlet and Cinder. This book definitely had an interesting ending so I am very anxious to see what happens next!

Cress was released on February 4, 2014 and is the third book in The Lunar Chronicles.

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Trending Topics in YA: Fairytale Retellings

As I’m sure most of you have noticed, fairytale retellings are hugely popular lately! I can’t even tell you how many books I’ve looked at in the past week alone that have been a retelling of a story I used to read as a child. What is the reason for the spike in retellings? I would say nostalgia plays a role–it’s nice to read something that we loved as children and brings back all of the memories and feelings that we had when our parents read us bedtime stories. Also, I think it’s really interesting to see the different spin that authors put on familiar stories and it revives a story that has grown old and somewhat boring.

I think the key to a good retelling is definitely the originality that an author can bring. For instance, Cinder and Scarlet by Marissa Meyer are retellings of Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood, respectively, yet the stories are completely different and original. While keeping some of the familiar aspects of the story, such as Cinderella’s stepmother and stepsisters or Little Red’s famous red cloak, each book offers an entirely new take on the fairytale and Meyer incorporates dystopian, steampunk, and scifi elements as well. Splintered by A.G. Howard, while not one of my favorites, also offered a new perspective on a familiar tale–Alice in Wonderland. It presents a much different version of Wonderland than either Lewis Carroll or Disney gave us, and its originality is what makes the story stand out.

Other fairytale retellings include Kill Me Softly, a book by Sarah Cross that has multiple fairytale retellings in one, Entwined by Heather Dixon, which is a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, and Beastly by Alex Flinn, which retells the story of Beauty and the Beast.

What fairytale retellings have you read recently? Which retelling would you like to see written? I personally, would love a retelling of The Little Mermaid, which was my favorite as a child.

Splintered by A. G. Howard

Splintered by A. G. Howard“No one knows what he or she is capable of until things are at their darkest.”

Alyssa Gardner is able to talk to insects and plants, a curse that stems from her ancestor Alice Liddell, the girl who was Lewis Carroll’s inspiration for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa’s mother has the same curse, and has been living in a mental hospital for years. As her mother’s condition worsens, Alyssa realizes that the only way to break the curse is to find a way into Wonderland, if it actually exists. What she finds is a much different Wonderland than Lewis Carroll wrote. She must pass a series of tests that will allow her to fix Alice Liddell’s mistakes before she is allowed to leave Wonderland and return home. She also has to decide between trusting her friend Jeb, who she has been secretly crushing on for years, or the mysterious Morpheus, who seems to be hiding something.

I’m not going to lie–ninety percent of the reason I picked up this book was because of the gorgeous cover. I’m usually not one to judge a book by its cover, but this cover really drew me in! I also really love retellings, so I was very excited to read this. Honestly though, I was a little bit disappointed.

I was never hugely into Alice in Wonderland, and I’ve actually never read Lewis Carroll’s book. Splintered presents a much different Wonderland than the Disney version, which is pretty much where my limited knowledge of the story comes from. A lot of this book is super creepy. I’m not usually one to shy away from a creepy book, but some of the stuff was a bit out there for me. For example, Alyssa’s favorite past time is murdering insects and using their dead bodies to create “art”. Now, I know there are many different forms of art, but while some may view this as artistic, I was just plain grossed out. And also–how cruel! I’m no fan of bugs, but killing them for art is really unnecessary.

Alyssa herself was pretty uninteresting and she tries too hard to present a certain image of herself that seems to cater to her crush’s interests. I also didn’t like either of the male characters in the story. Alyssa’s friend Jeb is a jerk–he leads her on by flirting with her all the time but meanwhile is dating her high school rival, a girl who cruelly teases Alyssa and throws her relationship with Jeb in her face. Morpheus, Alyssa’s guide in Wonderland, is just super creepy. He has insect wings, is extremely manipulative, and weirdly possessive of Alyssa.  Also, the love triangle is focused on way too much and takes away from the rest of the story.

While the world building of this very dark version of Wonderland was really well done, the rest of the story seemed really dragged out. The tasks that Alyssa has to complete in order to reverse Alice Liddell’s mistakes were really interesting but made the story seem tedious after awhile. I feel like it took me forever to get through this book, and it was one of those times that I was eager to reach the end just for the sake of the story being over. The ending really disappointed me also because while it was definitely not something I had expected, I was still left feeling like the story had gone nowhere.

Overall, Splintered presented a much darker version of the traditional Wonderland and while the world building was excellent, the love story took too much of the focus and the characters were not very likable. This is one of those books where I feel like the idea had a lot of potential but it didn’t live up to my expectations.

Splintered was released on January 1, 2013 and is the first book in the Splintered series. The second book, Unhinged, is set to be released on January 7, 2014.

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

“But you’re the only one, Scarlet. You’ll always be the only one.”

Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother has gone missing and the police have called off their search. But Scarlet doesn’t believe that her grandmother ran away–she thinks that something terrible has happened to her, and she intends to find out what it is. When Scarlet meets Wolf, a street fighter who seems to know something about her grandmother’s disappearance, she finds herself drawn to him even though she doesn’t trust him. She embarks on a journey to rescue her grandmother with Wolf’s help and on the way encounters Cinder, who has just escaped prison. Scarlet realizes that there is a lot more involved in her grandmother’s disappearance than she thought.

I loved this book! I really enjoyed the first book, Cinder, because it was such a different type of book than I had read before. Even though I enjoy science fiction, a sci-fi fairy tale retelling seemed a little bit strange to me. I’m so glad I gave it a chance though because it is such a fantastic and original story, and the sequel, Scarlet, was even better!

Scarlet is such a fantastic character! I love a strong female protagonist and Scarlet fills that role perfectly. She not only runs her grandmother’s farm, but she knows how to defend herself and is determined to rescue her grandmother no matter what. She initially doesn’t trust Wolf, especially once she realizes he knows more about her grandmother than she thought, but she and Wolf have an undeniable chemistry that keeps drawing them together.

It was also really interesting to see how Scarlet’s story intersected with Cinder’s. The book shifts back and forth between the two narratives and while I initially guessed at how Scarlet and Cinder’s stories related to each other I didn’t expect the twists at the end! The only complaint I would have is that I missed Kai–he’s not in as much of the book as I would’ve liked but I’m guessing he’ll play a bigger role in the next one. I did enjoy the little bit we did see of him in Scarlet because he was dealing with the aftermath of Cinder’s appearance at the ball and was conflicted between his feelings for her and his desire to do what is best for his people.

Overall, Scarlet was an amazing sequel with crazy twists! It was even better than Cinder in my opinion and I’m very excited to see what happens in book three!

Scarlet was released February 5, 2013 and is the second book in the Lunar Chronicles. The third book, Cress, is set to be released in 2014.

February 2013 Preview

Sorry I haven’t posted in awhile–I decided to go back to school to get a second bachelor’s degree and this was my first week back. I’ve been super busy going to school full time and working full time, and since my major is English, I’ve had a lot of reading to do for my classes and haven’t been able to get much pleasure reading let alone blog posts done. Hopefully I can figure out a way to manage my time better and get back on track!

I’ve read some really great books so far this month but here is a preview of some books that I’m excited to read this February:

Breaking Point by Kristen Simmons

Breaking Point by Kristen Simmons

Article 5 has been sitting on my shelf for awhile and since its sequel, Breaking Point, is due out soon I’ll have to bump it up on my list. Breaking Point continues the dystopian story of a girl named Ember who is living in a United States where the Bill of Rights has been revoked. It sounds like an interesting story that I’m sure I’ll love!

Release date:  February 2, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

Shatter Me has been on my to read list for awhile now, and now that the sequel is coming out I think it’s as good a time as any. A dystopian/post-apocalyptic series about a girl with a fatal touch definitely piqued my interest, so I am very excited to read this one!

Release date:  February 5, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Cinder, a Cinderella retelling about a cyborg girl living in futuristic Beijing, was one of my biggest surprises of last year. When I read the description it didn’t really sound like something I would like, but I decided to give it a try and it was actually really great! Cinder‘s sequel, Scarlet, is a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood but still continues the story of Cinder and Prince Kai. I can’t wait to see where this series goes!

Release date:  February 5, 2013

 

 

 

 

Sever by Lauren DeStefano

Sever by Lauren DeStefano

Wither was a fantastic and original story about a world where girls die at age 20 and boys die at 25. Young girls are being sold off to rich men as brides and are forced to bear children. Rhine Ellery becomes one of these girls, and tries her hardest to escape. The sequel to Wither, Fever, continues the story but in my opinion wasn’t nearly as good as the first book. Sever is the final book in the trilogy and I’m hoping it will be a great ending to the series.

Release date:  February 12, 2013

 

 

 

 

Fragments by Dan Wells

Fragments by Dan Wells

Partials is yet another book I own but have not read. A post-apocalyptic novel that takes place on Long Island, where I have lived my whole life, is definitely something I’m excited to read. I’m hoping to read Partials before the sequel, Fragments, is released.

Release date:  February 26, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

So it looks like February will be another exciting month for YA books! I just hope I can find the time to read all of the books I have on my list! What February releases are you looking forward to?