A Beauty and the Beast retelling that is wildly “meh.” Nyx (Beauty) has been promised as a bride to the evil demon lord Ignifex, aka the Gentle Lord (A Beauty and the Beast retelling that is wildly “meh.” Nyx (Beauty) has been promised as a bride to the evil demon lord Ignifex, aka the Gentle Lord (the Beast), all her life. Her land, Arcadia, is trapped in darkness and terrorized by demons. Her father made a bargain with the Gentle Lord and Nyx’s life was the price. Nyx has been trained to kill the Gentle Lord and free Arcadia from his tyranny. But surprise, surprise, he turns out to be charming and she falls in love with him.
Hodge gets points for having quite a spin on the classic tale, but ruins it by Nyx spending pages and pages feeling bad about being mean to her sweet sister (because Nyx is bitter that she’s the sacrifice while the sister is beloved). She also wastes far too many pages fretting that she has spent her life learning how to kill the demon lord but he’s so dreamy and that jaw line...Give me a break. Nyx’s undying love for Ignifex is what really drives the last half of the book, but I’m just not buying into it. She gets Stolkholm Syndrome on like Day 2. She is drawn to him, can’t stop admiring his hotness, etc. This while he’s still threatening to kill her and making poisonous bargains. Yes, he also saves her life and is generally disarmingly witty (and is less a bad guy than a lackey who has bought into the system’s logic), but that is still instalove, and creepy instalove at that. I really wish Nyx were more…substantial. I love the idea of a girl trained and taught to carry out a mission for her family and her land. There’s a toughness and determination in that which is brilliant. And Nyx has some of that, but frankly not enough. She can be tough and witty, but she can also break into standard YA heroine musings of self-pity and lust.
The love triangle in this book was possibly the most insane love triangle of all time - even worse than those "two brothers in love with the same girl" love triangles. Nyx is in love with two halves of the same guy! This is like doing a YA remake of Jekyll and Hyde where one girl is torn between the sweet, gentle Dr. Jekyll and the brooding, mysterious Mr. Hyde. Oh my god. How is that not a book yet? That will totally be a book. ...more
A retelling of “Beauty and the Beast” that is comfortable being a very loose interpretation of the fairy tale.
Feyre is the daughter of a failed merchA retelling of “Beauty and the Beast” that is comfortable being a very loose interpretation of the fairy tale.
Feyre is the daughter of a failed merchant who has lost everything and now sits around feeling sorry for himself. Her vain mother is long dead and her two older sisters are useless, greedy creatures. Only Feyre is willing to do anything to feed the family (besides her father occassionally half-heartedly selling wood carvings). She taught herself to set traps and hunt. She even taught herself to swim! And despite the fact that her family is useless and holding her back, she provides for all of them and never even thinks to just use all the money from her hunts for herself (plus, you know, food for everyone). Basically, Feyre is a ridiculous martyr and is unhappy about it, but will do nothing to change her situation.
One day, Feyre kills a giant wolf, which brings an angry Fae to her door. The Fae, Tamlin, demands a life for a life: Feyre must give up the human world and go live on Tamlin's estate in exchange for the wolf's death. If she refuses, she will die.
Tamlin may be Fae, but he is also all things good and kind and brave and true. His right hand man Lucien is more selfish and careless, but even he is not the evil Fae of Feyre's prejudices. There are evil Fae, however, and Feyre encounters plenty of them while on Tamlin's estate. Tamlin also warns her about a blight spreading across the Faerie realm and threatening the mortal realm as well.
Overall, it is a softly enjoyable tale. Feyre was generally refreshingly non-mopey and, while she is annoyingly self-sacrificing while living with her family, she drops that trait once she arrives at Tamlin's estate. Feyre also impressively makes the hard choice (view spoiler)[(killing innocents in order to rescue Tamlin in a series of challenges set by the Big Bad) (hide spoiler)] that many heroines would have refused to make. However, Feyre also had an annoying habit of doing the exact opposite of what she is told and having to be rescued as a result. Feyre is contrary just to be contrary, not because it is the intelligent choice. For example, Tamlin warns her not to leave her room on bonfire night. So, of course, she immediately leaves her room on bonfire night and is almost raped/killed by evil Fae. At another point, Lucien tells Feyre not to drink potent Fae alcohol - so she immediately gulps it down and gets dangerously blackout drunk. Feyre is the kind of girl who is told not to touch a hot stove and puts her hand on it because no one can tell her what to do! It is the most dangerous kind of stupid to be when living in Faerie, but Feyre is fortunate to have a powerful love interest who will save her from herself.
I am also confused why Maas chose to name her mortal heroine Feyre in a book about Fey. It appears to be a clue or a hint to something about Feyre's nature or heritage, but so far it has no known significance. Maybe its meaning will be revealed in later books, or perhaps it is just a red herring.
One final gripe: Tamlin at one point asks Feyre in bewilderment: “You can’t write, yet you learned to hunt, to survive. How?” While I applaud Maas for having an illiterate heroine, I am confused by how there is any connection between hunting and literacy. I mean, reading has nothing to do with hunting. Did Tamlin learn to hunt through training manuals? So that's how he think everyone learns how to hunt? Throughout history, most hunters have been completely illiterate. Feyre HAD to learn how to hunt to survive, because that was her family's main food and income source. Reading was a luxury. It's just such a baffling statement on Tamlin's part that I still don't know what to do with it. ...more
Valente has a beautifully sparse and evocative style that I respect and adore. It is also absolutely fitted to a western setting.
I thought this was aValente has a beautifully sparse and evocative style that I respect and adore. It is also absolutely fitted to a western setting.
I thought this was a brilliant retelling of Snow White. In this version, Snow White is the daughter of a rich, selfish, greedy man and the Native American woman he threatened into marrying him. The stepmother is a strict, cold woman who has made some sort of deal with an evil force. Snow White is hidden away by her father in near-isolation, taken out only for display. Snow runs away from home and proves what a tough, ferocious girl she truly is.
I loved all the twists on the legend - since Snow is half Native American, the stepmother cruely gave her the nickname “Snow White” to remind her what she could never be. The Hunter is a Pinkerton detective. The seven dwarves are seven tough-as-nails ladies in a town meant for escape.
The ending, though, I did not like. At all. Snow quickly becomes suicidal. The post-magical-slumber period is extremely confusing and rushed. There's a boy-from-the-mirror that is a result of the stepmother's deal with evil that I never quite understood. There's not really a prince at all (except maybe the boy-from-the-mirror but....no. right? or he is meant to be the prince except he's a really, really failed one?)....more
It also shows that Mechanique's Elena is Valentine’s favorite type of heroine. Because Jo Hamilton, eldest of the twelve dancing sisters, is another version of Elena. Both girls are strict and stiff and unyielding - they do the right thing when it’s the hard thing and they contain their composure and their stiff upper lip no matter what the world throws at them. They can seem cruel and cold and heartless to others, but the truth is they’re all heart – every hard thing they do is for their loved ones. They have a family and they will protect that family to their dying breath, even if it makes their family hate them.
Jo is nicknamed “the General” by her sisters, and is their truly heartless father’s accidental lieutenant. Their father wants to keep his daughters locked up in the house, to be brought out only when he finds suitors for them. Their father does not love them - he sees them as only inconvenient possessions. Jo helps keep her siblings jailed because she’s afraid what will happen if they run away. But her sisters are restless and desperate in their prison of a house, and so finally one night Jo takes them dancing at one of the speakeasies that populate Prohibition-era New York City. Only at the clubs – only dancing – are these girls free. Of course, tyrannical old dinosaur that he is, their father eventually tries to marry them off for money.
Valentine does her best to differentiate the sisters, but there’s only so much you can do with 12 girls. I could never figure out their ages – who was older? who was younger? – and they were almost all beautiful and remote, so that didn’t help differentiate them. Jo is obviously the most developed one, and my heart aches for her. I love the Jos of the literary world – they are so strong and yet so brittle and so often undervalued and underappreciated. Lou, the second oldest, is Jo’s lieutenant. Lou wants to escape more than anyone, but she is also the only one who truly understands Jo and what she’s done for them (and what she’s sacrificed). So even though they are sometimes at odds, Lou presents a united front with Jo in front of the younger ones. Doris I mostly know because she’s the only one who actually falls for a guy their father picked, who against all expectations turns out to be a gentleman of the first water. Ella, meanwhile, is the most motherly. The others I can’t really keep track of, except the first set of twins were self-involved, and the second set of twins had a lesbian.
Valentine’s take on the “12 Dancing Princesses” is exactly how a fairy tale retelling is supposed to work. Enough details so it’s recognizable (the nightly dancing, the girls being called “princess” [because they don’t want to use their names], the suitors, the tyrant father, the “underground” world of the speakeasies where the dancing is), but not so many that it feels played out. Prohibition NYC is the perfect setting for this too – and Valentine is as good at historical fiction as she is with futuristic dystopia. ...more
One of the many YA retellings of "East of the Sun, West of the Moon."
In this version, Cassie helps her father out at his Arctic Research center. WhenOne of the many YA retellings of "East of the Sun, West of the Moon."
In this version, Cassie helps her father out at his Arctic Research center. When Cassie's grandmother used to live with them at the Arctic Research Center, she would tell Cassie about the Daughter of the North Wind who was promised to the Polar Bear king, but fell in love with a human man. The North Wind’s Daughter promised the Polar Bear King her daughter as a bride, if he agreed to hide them from the anger of the North Wind. The Polar Bear King did, but the North Wind found them anyway, and whisked his daughter away to be held captive by the trolls.
Clearly, this Daughter of the North Wind was Cassie’s mother. Cassie grows up and decides this is just a nice myth to explain her mother’s disappearance/death. Of course, it’s all real, and the Polar Bear King comes for Cassie. She agrees to marry him in exchange for freeing her mother. This poor Bear will take any bargain he's given– and he doesn’t even try to enforce the terms. He's a bit of a sap, really.
The Polar Bear King is a munaqsri – a guardian who protects the souls of the species he is chosen to oversee, shepherding them into life and into death. Cassie at first doesn’t want to marry a talking polar bear and give up her intended life of arctic research. She eventually comes around, only to have the Polar Bear King “fix” her hormonal imbalance caused by birth control and impregnate her. She’s understandably pissed and decides to look at him while he’s in his human form in the dark. Of course, due to another poor bargain that was made,the Polar Bear King has to now go live with the troll princess. Stop making so many stupid bargains, Polar Bear King!
The second half of the book is Cassie trying to rescue the Polar Bear King, which is 99% having to deal with munasqri who refuse to be helpful, and who care more about the munasqri fetus she’s carrying than her.
It is hard to root for a romance that begins with a captive bride, then steers into the love interest impregnating the heroine against her will. "East of the Sun, West of the Moon" is about a girl willing to go the ends of the earth and beyond for her love. But if I was Cassie, I would have seriously considered letting the troll princess have the Polar Bear King and used my resources to get back to civilization. And being really, really angry at my mom for agreeing to sell me into marital slavery before I was born. ...more
This book is so frustrating. This series is so frustrating. Meyers, anime can get away with this shit because it is anime. It has different expectatioThis book is so frustrating. This series is so frustrating. Meyers, anime can get away with this shit because it is anime. It has different expectations and strengths/weaknesses and genre conventions. A BOOK cannot do it.
Like, how there is no sense of place in this series at all. Both China and France are entirely generic with no sense of place whatosever. The action could equally plausibly take place in Canada or the US or England or any other traditional setting. It is a failure of worldbuilding.
Also, Scarlet is stupid and nonsensical. Her entire focus is on rescuing her grandmother. Except she had NO RESCUE PLAN. Her plan looks like this: 1. Find grandmother; 2. ???; 3. FREEDOM. Seriously. You know your grandmother is being guarded by a scary, dangerous gang and you think you can just waltz in and take your grandmother out? Because why exactly? Even if the gang didn’t end up being (view spoiler)[elite Lunar warriors led by a Lunar wizard (hide spoiler)] that shit wouldn’t have worked. It is the poorest planning I’ve seen in a while and I’m in the middle of the Iron Fey series, so that’s saying something. Wolf is not any better – he knows Scarlet will likely never get out if she goes in, so why does he just let her walk into a trap? Not that running away would’ve helped since the bad guys would’ve tracked them down and killed them, but whatever. AT LEAST HAVE A PLAN THAT MAKES SENSE.
The entire WORLD is stupid. Kai continues to be a terrible emperor. Him and the other world leaders let the Lunars walk all over them. Maybe the countries should be doing something like – taking out the Lunar cells, recruiting rebels to fight for them, developing technology to block the bioelectric manipulation, create more robotic soldiers to fight the Lunars (since the Lunars can’t control them). Maybe ANYTHING would be helpful rather than sitting around, being all “well, I hope the Lunars don’t attack!”
Cinder was okay in this one and demonstrated basic planning skills and I like Thorne (the roguish spaceship captain who tags along with her). He’s a little much at times, but at least he has a sense of humor (no one else seems to)....more