Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Summary: 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. (From author website).

My Thoughts: I was drawn to this one both by the fabulous cover and the plot summary; cyborg mechanic Cinderella in the future? Extraterrestrial plagues? Hostile human sub-group living on the moon? Definitely something I haven’t heard of before.

While Meyer uses the old French fairytale of Cinderella to start off her story, she quickly makes it into something original and all her own. There’s more going on here than catching the attention of the prince and going to the royal ball–in fact, the royal ball only serves as the location for the climax of a much larger, much more complicated story. The evil stepmother, while suitably detestable, doesn’t come close to the real villain of our story, the queen of the Moon who is intent on exerting her unwelcome influence over the inhabitants back on Earth.

I immediately liked Cinder as our protagonist, and her trials and tribulations were exciting to follow. Her love for her younger stepsister, Peony, was a new look at the traditional Cinderella story, and her little helper Iko was also delightful to read.

I’d recommend Cinder to anyone who likes updated fairy tales, dystopian science fiction, and interesting plots. I think the author has several sequels in the series planned.

Author Website: http://www.marissameyer.com/

 

Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George

Rating: 7 out of 10
Summary: To raise the family out of poverty, Creel’s aunt concocts a plan to sacrifice Creel to a dragon so that a wealthy knight will save and marry her. But Creel has her own plans, and to finance her adventure, she decides to bargain for a piece of the dragon’s gold.

But this dragon hoards shoes, not gold, and Creel is given a beautiful pair of blue slippers, which she soon discovers have special powers. Finding herself victim of an evil princess and in the middle of a war that threatens to destroy everything including her dragon friends, it is up to Creel to outwit the enemy and save the innocents (from bn.com).

Commentary: I ran a search on Jessica Day George after I read and reviewed Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow, which I really liked. I checked this one out from the library, and while Dragon Slippers didn’t really get me as much as Sun and Moon did, it was still a fun, adventure novel with a spunky heroine and cool dragon friends. The plot was interesting and kept me guessing, and there was a little bit of a romantic-comedy feel in Creel’s tension with the prince!

Reminded me a little bit of Shannon Hale’s work; good read.

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George

Rating: 7 out of 10
Summary: Blessed—or cursed—with an ability to understand animals, the Lass (as she’s known to her family) has always been an oddball. And when an isbjorn (polar bear) seeks her out, and promises that her family will become rich if only the Lass will accompany him to his castle, she doesn’t hesitate. But the bear is not what he seems, nor is his castle, which is made of ice and inhabited by a silent staff of servents. Only a grueling journey on the backs of the four winds will reveal the truth: the bear is really a prince who’s been enchanted by a troll queen, and the Lass must come up with a way to free him before he’s forced to marry a troll princess.

Commentary: A retelling of the traditional fairytale East of the Sun, West of the Moon (other versions are Cupid and Psyche, as well as Beauty and the Beast). I thought this was very enjoyable. The plot had a nice smooth flow and our heroine was strong and determined, as all heroines should be. Highly recommended.

The Swan Kingdom by Zoe Marriott

Rating: 6 out of 10
Summary: Shadows fall across the beautiful, lush kingdom after the queen is attacked by an unnatural beast, and the healing skills of her daughter, Alexandra, cannot save her.

Too soon the widowed king is spellbound by a frightening stranger, a woman whose eyes reflect no light. In a terrifying moment, all Alexandra knows disappears, including her beloved brothers, leaving her banished to a barren land.

But Alexandra has more gifts than she realizes as she confronts magic, murder, and the strongest of evil forces, and is unflinchingly brave as she struggles to reclaim what is rightfully hers.

Commentary: I could not help but make constant comparisons to Juliet Marillier’s Daughter of the Forest. Mariott’s The Swan Kingdom, as a result, seemed like a slightly watered-down version aimed at much younger readers. It was just okay all the way through–okay characters, okay plot, okay story.

One thing I had trouble with is how easy the quest seemed to be for the protagonist in The Swan Kingdom. It didn’t seem like she had to do all that much in order to gain the reward and set her brothers free. She had constant, friendly, almost deus-ex-machina type of help all the way throughout the story.

On the other hand, I thought Mariott’s villain was very well done, added a bit more depth to the novel. Cool backstory, gave me a pleasant surprise.

Nothign especially spectacular as a book.