Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?
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.
Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.– Goodreads
Fairest is the book that is supposed to make us, the reader, understand more about the evil Queen of the series. Instead it just made me annoyed. I found it interesting to see that Levana wasn’t even the worst person in her family. Her sister was worse than her. And while her life wasn’t perfect, I don’t think her childhood means that she should have turned into evil queen. While this book could have made her turn into a better person, but it ultimately made me stabby and sigh.
It’s also painful to be in Levana’s head. When she’s making poor life choices I wanted to stop her. When she was being verbally abused by her sister I wanted to shield her. This is all a credit to Meyer’s writing. Her writing is consistently spot on and where I believed Cress needed some editing I do not have that same concern with Fairest. Meyer seems to be at her finest here. I felt like I was in this world and it was heartbreaking because I loathed every moment.
I enjoyed how characters were introduced and reminded us of the full series. But I did not enjoy the slut shaming, how the older sister is seen as this selfish and beautiful bitch. Her sister has her own problems to deal with and here Levana is constantly slut shaming her or going “oh. it’s because she’s selfish.” Why is her sister selfish? No idea. I was never actually show why Channary is this horrible person. Levana’s headspace is also extremely stressful to be in which effected my enjoyment of the book.
The Queen’s Army (The Lunar Chronicles #1.5) by Marissa Meyer
Release Date: November 23, 2012
Buy It: Wattpad (Free!)
It is time. The boy must leave his family to serve in the Queen’s army. To be chosen is an honor. To decline is impossible. The boy is modified. He is trained for several years, and learns to fight to the death. He proves to the Queen—and to himself—that he is capable of evil. He is just the kind of soldier the Queen wants: the alpha of his pack. – Goodreads
Cinder got her own origin tale, and now it’s time for Wolf’s. I realized I should have read this before Scarlet when it was too late, and maybe it would have made me more sympathetic to Wolf (he gave off Edward Cullen vibes at first). Though their childhoods were different, both stories are heartbreaking. Cinder has no memories because she spent such a long time being rebuilt, and Wolf (or Ze’ev) is taken from his parents at the age of twelve to be transformed into a terrible monster. Of course, as we learned in Scarlet, Wolf is made part of an elite group of soldiers, so he’s not completely transformed into a wolf…hybrid…thing. (Should I just say werewolf? Are we doing that, or no?)
As someone who just had a baby boy (and that’s not required to feel this way, but man, is it intense), I felt so awful for poor Wolf. Twelve and taken and turned into something not human. Operated on, given no choice, scared, cut off from his family forever. No. It’s horrible. And within Wolf’s new “family,” we see typical werewolf dynamics (I love that there are enough werewolf books out there for any behavior to be considered “typical”), much of which involves violence. There are alphas, betas, and omegas, and that’s just the way it is. Wolf welcome by his pack’s alpha is not exactly warm and cozy.
This whole story does a lot to explain what happens to soldiers in the queen’s army, but it really just made me feel sad for Wolf. It made him seem more human, sure, and less Edward Cullen, but still, I mostly just felt sad for everyone involved in this pack. For everyone in all the packs. What happened to them wasn’t fair or humane. It’s horrible and immoral and hard to read about. But as an origin story, I rather liked it. At least it made me feel differently about Wolf.
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. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to 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. – Goodreads
While I was on maternity leave, I decided I needed to reread some books that I started but never got around to continuing. Cinder was the first of these novels, and I ended up liking it even more than I did the first time around. So I knew I had to continue the series (including the short stories, which I’ll review separately), especially since the fourth book of the series, Fairest, came out last month and the fifth, Winter, comes out later this year. And as I’ve left Ashley with the bulk of the blog responsibilities since oh, last February, I figured I’d better get a move on and pick up the slack. So. Scarlet. We heard the name Michelle Benoit for the first time while reading Cinder’s story as a possible suspect in the aiding, abetting, and harboring of the fugitive Lunar Princess Selene. And now that Michelle has been abducted, or so her granddaughter Scarlet fears, we can pretty much assume that that was the case. So we follow two storylines: the first is Scarlet’s and her search for her grandmother, and the second is Cinder’s and her escape from New Beijing and the Lunar Queen, Levana. Both girls have help in the form of attractive but possible unreliable and untrustworthy men. In Scarlet’s case, the aptly named Wolf is her street-fighting sidekick, while Cinder has picked up a fugitive American cadet called Carswell. Wolf is quiet and strange and full of mystery, while Carswell is mostly just full of himself. And in the midst of these stories is a third, smaller story: the newly crowned Emperor Kai and his struggle against Levana and his own feelings for Cinder.
Scarlet and Wolf embark on a journey to Paris after learning some valuable information from Scarlet’s irresponsible, sporadically absent father, while Kai has to deal with an increasingly angry Queen Levana, who has dropped her civil act at the escape and disappearance of Cinder. I wish Kai knew Cinder was Princess Selene, but I’m sure a lot of us feel that way. It’s just so frustrating to know things other characters don’t, especially things that could change their minds and their actions! (However, I don’t really ship Kai/Cinder. I sort of want to wait and see what happens.) When letumosis breaks out on the train, Scarlet and Wolf make a run for it, while Cinder and Carswell clean up their ship, guided by Iko, now the bodiless voice of the ship. I was so glad to see Iko again. But I was kind of disappointed in that Wolf gave me some Edward Cullen vibes. I kept waiting for him to tell Scarlet he wasn’t good for her and that she should stay away from him. Such angst. Much fraught. Wow.
I liked how twisty this one was, because I saw a lot of things coming while reading Cinder. I like how there are Lunars showing up around every corner, and some of them are good, but some of them are bad, too. I like that the morality lines get blurred in this series, and that prejudice is not always called for. A lot of series are so black and white with their characters and races that it’s no fun reading about. But humans don’t normally act “evil” just for the sake of it. Most of the time, they think they’re doing the right thing. And something I love about Meyer’s writing: my first impressions are very often wrong. That is the case in more ways than one in this novel. So even if a reader can see certain plot points a mile away, sometimes characters’ personalities and motives are not what they first seem to be. And I just felt so much for poor Cinder. She’s had a rough life so far. I want her to find some peace.
So while there are good twists and unpredictable character morality, I found this one to be pretty slow and hard to get into, the opposite of Cinder. I don’t think I got really interested in Scarlet’s story until maybe the third book began (around chapter 35) and it didn’t really capture my attention the way Cinder did until the 80% mark. Regardless, the story is good, the worldbuilding is great, and I can’t wait for Cress, the next on my list. (Also stand by for a review of the next short story in the series, The Queen’s Army.)
The Little Android (The Lunar Chronicles #0.6) by Marissa Meyer
Release Date: January 27, 2014
Buy It: Wattpad (Another free read!)
The Little Android is a retelling of The Little Mermaid, set in the world of The Lunar Chronicles by New York Times-bestselling author Marissa Meyer.
When android Mech6.0 saves the life of a handsome hardware engineer, her body is destroyed and her mechanics discover a glitch in her programming. Androids aren’t meant to develop impractical reasoning or near-emotional responses…let alone fall in love. – Goodreads
When I was a kid, I watched my VHS tape of The Little Mermaid until it wouldn’t play anymore. My mom told me later that the songs made her want to burn the house down after awhile (sorry, Mom). So I began reading this story with an open, but slightly biased, mind. (Keep that in mind when you see how long this review ended up being…)
I really love how Meyer gives androids personalities. In my early twenties, I dated someone who was really into the Matrix universe, and he really believed we should treat machines respectfully. Not just computers, but like, drill presses and things that only work using hydraulics. He was weird. But this universe sort of reminds me of that and also how caught up humans can get in their own lives and business, to the point that we ignore everything else around us. Sometimes this can lead to carelessness and cruelty, especially when we start thinking of other species as “less.” And to me, androids are their own species in this universe, and it doesn’t matter that they were built by someone else. They’re alive and can think. Just because they can be programmed doesn’t mean they are less. (This might be bias coming from my love of Battlestar Galactica and all things Cylon…)
So, excuse my soapbox moment, there. Mech6.0 appears to be a mechanic android who also identifies as female and definitely has emotions. She is fascinated and excited by her glimpses of the starry skies outside the hangar deck she works on. One day, she finds a card containing the holographic image of Prince Kai, and she falls in love(though not with with the prince. He has enough admirers). Wing Dataran, a young human engineer, has caught Mech6.0’s fancy, even though she doesn’t really understand why at first. Mech6.0’s fascination causes a bit of a scene, one that leads to the decision to dismantle her, so she escapes.
Enter Linh Cinder and the body of an escort-droid. I started really dreading the outcome of this story, because I’d grown to like and sympathize with Mech6.0. There was really no way for this to end well. Basically, prepare for this to be more like Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid and less like Disney. The ending is bittersweet, but, really, that’s the way it had to be.
Glitches (The Lunar Chronicles #0.5) by Marissa Meyer
Release Date: December 5, 2011
Buy It: Wattpad (Remember, it’s free!)
Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. In Glitches, a short prequel story to Cinder, we see the results of that illness play out, and the emotional toll that takes on Cinder. Something that may, or may not, be a glitch… – Goodreads
Glitches is the first short story written in the Lunar Chronicles universe and, fittingly, it’s Cinder’s backstory. It begins with Garan bringing Cinder home from Europe where she was made cyborg and lost her memories of her previous life as a princess of Luna. She is very self-conscious about her new hardware and the changes to both her body and her brain. She believes herself to be less than human, which probably makes it easier to accept the treatment she will get as a cyborg in New Beijing. I felt a lot of sympathy for Cinder, who is led to believe her parents died in a hover crash. She has to make her way in an entirely new world without any safety net of memories behind her. It must have been hard.
Then we meet Garan’s family: Adri, Pearl, and Peony. Adri isn’t quite as villainous as she is in Cinder’s novel, but you can tell she has it in her. Peony is very open to Cinder from the beginning. They play dress-up and Cinder explains her inner workings to Peony. I felt myself get a little frustrated, because while you know Garan has good reasons for not telling Adri Cinder’s secret, you wish he had so Cinder would not have been so ill-treated. Or at the very least, you wish Garan had told someone that the chip dampening Cinder’s Lunar magic worked. Anything. But he gets the plague, and so begins the life Cinder is living when we meet her for the first time. We also see a glimpse of Iko, which made me happy.
This is a nice concise origin story, and I liked the glimpse we got into Cinder’s secretive beginnings.
Rapunzel’s tower is a satellite. She can’t let down her hair—or her guard.
In this third book in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.
Their best hope lies with Cress, who has been trapped on a satellite since childhood with only 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 goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing stop her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only ones who can. – Goodreads
It took me months to read this book. Months. And that breaks my heart because I really enjoy this series, but I could not get into Cress and I tried. I first read a good portion of it and then I had to set it to the side. Then I put the audiobook at hold at the library and figured why not, let’s try it again. The audiobook worked better for me than the actual book did, which does happen occasionally.
The problem with this book for me ultimately came down to the fact it was told from so many point of views, the book felt sloggy and almost never ending because of that. My friend, Renae said it best:
This is one of those situations where I can understand and agree with the appeal other readers see in a particular book, but at the same time, I don’t, objectively, think the same book is actually very well-done.
I read her review as I was finishing the book and agreed so much I sent her a text message going something along the lines of “I’M NOT ALOOOOONE.” Yes. I’m as dramatic in text messages as you would think I would be. But when it comes to Cress I couldn’t help but agree.
I thought that it was an enjoyable book, but the flaws of the book pulled me out. The number of people! Should I have kept a list of the character, their role and the fact there wasn’t much character development because there was so many characters in one book that I didn’t get a good feel for any of them. If the narrator didn’t do different voices, all the characters would actually be one to me. Which is hard as a reader because they did so much planning in this novel. I love a heist as much as the next (Looking at you Oceans’ Eleven) but there was so much planning with so many people that I honestly spent a lot of time confused. And lost, so lost.
Also, I spent most of the book wondering when something was going to happen. I just finished the book and I’m still wondering when something is going to happen. While I’m fine with planning, this suffered from middle book syndrome where one spends a lot of their time bored. With this being a hefty book (550 pages) that is a lot of time to spent bored.
While, Meyer was able to intertwine all of the characters beautifully there was a downfall while she was doing this. I understand the appeal of Cress and I love what it has done to the genre of Young Adult but it still took me months to finish. The pain of putting a book on my goodreads “hold” shelf is never a good sign, which ultimately effected my rating on Cress.
I read a lot of books. Often at speeds which make it hard to review ALL the books I read in a month. Because of this I will be doing monthly recaps with a quick bite about how much I love/hated the book. –Ashley
Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .
Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.
Tina previously reviewed this book here. I thoroughly enjoyed this quick read and cannot wait for the second book. It was unique and not the typical Ashley book. Plus I kind of fell in love with Prince Kai. Which is always nice. I enjoy a good book boyfriend. The story was unique and an exciting twist on a fairy tale everyone has heard a million times. I cannot wait for the next book in this series.
Marcus aka “w1n5t0n,” is only seventeen years old, but he figures he already knows how the system works–and how to work the system. Smart, fast, and wise to the ways of the networked world, he has no trouble outwitting his high school’s intrusive but clumsy surveillance systems.
But his whole world changes when he and his friends find themselves caught in the aftermath of a major terrorist attack on San Francisco. In the wrong place at the wrong time, Marcus and his crew are apprehended by the Department of Homeland Security and whisked away to a secret prison where they’re mercilessly interrogated for days.
When the DHS finally releases them, his injured best friend Darryl does not come out. The city has become a police state where every citizen is treated like a potential terrorist. He knows that no one will believe his story, which leaves him only one option: “M1k3y” will take down the DHS himself
There was a lot of irony in me reading this book. Mostly because I fear big brother like no other. Most of my friends laugh at me because they think I’m joking. No, my paranoia about that doesn’t allow me to joke about it. Here’s the thing this book is really well done. It scares me and makes me think about easily something like this could happen in 2013 in America and that was clearly one of the points that Doctorow was trying to do prove. Watch out. Look what could happen. Trust your instincts. I cannot wait to read the second book in the series.
Posted by ashley in Book Review Tags: 4 star, author: doctorow, author: meyer, genre: contemporary, genre: dystopia, genre: young adult, monthly recap, publisher: feiwel and friends, publisher: tor teen