Lacking original plot line but has an amazing cast of supporting characters full of life, dreams, passion and honor. I am very critical in my review on the originality. If I hadn't seen Moulin Rouge! prior to reading this I can bet you any amount of money that I would have been head over heels for this book.
Trailer None at time of review.
A trumpet blast, followed by silence.
Most Memorable Scene Hale's first kiss. It just happens to be with Roland and it's awesome. Read an excerpt on A Dream Within A Dream.
Plot Hale is a singer in a New Orleans cabaret show where her mother lived. The plot centers around Hale attempting to secure a decent future for her and her orphaned friend, Christina aka Teeny. The plot is very closely mirrored to that of Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge!. If you've seen that movie, you've read the gist of this book, with some character switches and additions mostly. That being said there are some differences that added a little bit to the story, of which I did like.
Setting The majority of the scenes are set in the theater on stage, in Hale's room and in the catwalks/rafters of the stage set. We only get to venture out into New Orleans a few times but nothing amazing.
Writing Written from Hale's point of view. I think the story was written fine. My issue is with the originality.
Originality Have you seen the movie Moulin Rouge! with Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor? I have seen it a million times. I love it. Even my husband loves it. We even used Come What May as our song. I was told that this book was similar but I was not prepared with HOW similar it is. I suppose if no one saw the movie they would have no idea how similar it is. I saw that there is a blog tour going on right now for this title so I tweeted a few that have reviewed the book to see what they thought.
It seems that most have NOT seen the movie so they could not compare.
Overall, if the story had such similarities to bother me so bad it must be one too many. I realize that sayings such as "break a leg" and "the show must go on" are popular theater sayings but for them to happen in just about the same sequence as a major motion picture that cannot be overlooked.
The biggest similarity was the reference to the song Come What May, which I mentioned above as our song (my husband and I).
"What's the backstory here?" I asked, glancing over the lyrics he handed me. I read one line aloud. "I will love you until my dying breath?"
"The audience will swoon," he said as he walked to the piano.
--Location 4020 (72%)
The actual line is: "I will love you until my dying day." Changing one word does not make this okay.
Am I being too critical? Taking this too personal? I probably am but when I feel passionately about something I usually do.
I can say that I did enjoy the original aspects that happened along the way. But who's to say they are original. Leigh told me herself that she got her inspiration from several sources. Maybe I didn't recognize them because I'm not familiar enough with them. The guest post is featured on Lost in Literature.
I have read several books that were heavily based on existing themes or fairytales but the point is to make them your own. Keeping the overall theme is fine but changing heavy elements is necessary. I would reference the work of Jackson Pearce (Fairytale Retellings) and Marissa Meyer (Lunar Chronicles), both of which have written amazing fairytale retellings with incredibly original content.
Characters I didn't love Hale. I liked how protective she was of Teeny but we didn't really learn anything about her likes and wants. I feel like I didn't really know her at all. I feel like her only lines were "Where's Teeny?" and "I have to protect Teeny."
Teeny was mildly annoying but that's forgivable because she's a spunky 12 year old.
Roland is Hale's first love and a true romantic. I really loved his character. I wish we would have learned a bit more about him but I think we knew more about him than we did Hale.
Evie is Hale's best friend. She didn't shine but her scenes we enjoyable.
Gavin and Guy are brothers. Guy owns the theater and Gavin runs it. Guy is a creeper and Gavin is a pussy. I didn't like either of them.
Beau, oh, Beau. He was lovely. I really enjoyed his character. I loved how strong and focused he was. I kept rooting for him all the way until the end.
Freddie Lovel is one amazing man. I found him to be too proper at times, early on, but liked how he progressively opened himself to Hale. He is a genuine gentleman and I was also rooting for his happiness until the end.
Molly is a shadow of a character I wanted to know more about. There were glimpses of who she really was but it was all very vague and I wish this was focused on more.
Romance If you saw Moulin Rouge! then you know that this story centers around a young lady performer who is being pursued by a high ranked gentleman but falls in love with a "penniless" stagehand all within a theater that has some risque business going down inside.
The attraction between Hale and Beau is believable and happens all naturally. Freddie as a suitor seems logical but Hale's heart just into him. He's such a nice guy though that it's a tiny bit infuriating to watch Hale think nothing of him.
Title/Cover Bonus No, I did like both. In the guest post Leigh did at Lost in Literature she says that Rouge is in reference to Teeny's hair color. Which I found quite funny because it is not referenced enough for me to even put two and two together. I didn't even notice her hair was strawberry blonde until the last few pages of the book. Actually, in the very beginning it was described as:
Her blonde hair was streaked with auburn highlights that on some days shone bright red.
The most times "red" was used was to describe Hale's red velvet dressing gown and the numerous red roses.
Ending I honestly was expecting this to end like Moulin Rouge! did, at least in general. I was actually very glad that it didn't. I can't say that I liked the ending but it was the most logical ending possible, without all hell breaking lose.
I can't possibly see the sequel copying anything else from Moulin Rouge! so I have faith that this might actually turn out to be a decent series. I am just oh so sad that this opening book did not sit well with me. If I hadn't seen Moulin Rouge! prior to reading this I can bet you any amount of money that I would have been head over heels for this book.
Overall Brilliant retelling of the Cinderella fairytale with a new cultural setting, sci-fi elements and a cyborg of a girl and one level headed handsome Prince.
First Line The screw through Cinder's ankle had rusted, the engraved cross marks worn to a mangled cirle.
Most Memorable Scene The first time Cinder meets Prince Kai in her booth. Or maybe .... yeah, there's a quite a few.
Plot One of the best plots I've read in a while. Although I must stress that I figured out the OMG moment quite ahead of time, even though I wasn't certain I had the itch that I was correct. This usually bothers me because it makes me feel like the character is stupid for not figuring it out too. I didn't feel that way with Cinder, I only felt mildly disappointed that I did know so far in advance.
I enjoyed the twists that the plague gave the story as well as the research lab that was trying to "cure" it.
Setting New Beijing. The culture is set in an Asian style which I found interesting. Not only did Marissa retell a fairytale but she completely re-imagined it by putting it in a different culture. New Beijing is probably what Beijing is like today: over crowded. Minus the androids and the plague (Letumosis).
Writing I had a hard time putting this book down. Written in third-person narrative I was never in need of Cinder's "I" thoughts or even Prince Kai's for that matter.
Originality Being a retelling of a favorite fairytale I didn't know what to expect. Suffice it to say that I was thoroughly surprised with how much I LOVED this book! Not only did Marissa make this story worthy of this era but she turned it into one of my most favorite genres: dystopian with a splash of sci-fi. Or is it sci-fi with a splash of dystopian? Yeah, I think that's the proper way. Either way it was fantastic and required a ton of creative thinking.
Characters Cinder is a female, cyborg (human with some andriod parts) mechanic. She is treated like dirt by many of the other civilians of New Beijing and especially mistreated by her step-mother and one step-sister. She's forced to work everyday and pay for the wants of her step-mother and sisters. Her best friend is Iko, an android, and Pearl, the nicer of the two step-sisters. She's a super skilled mechanic and while not a social butterfly she's nice and woes the Prince without even trying.
Price Kai is one of the smoothest male characters since Edward Cullen. Yes, I said it. He is Mr. Suave, he's naive while still smart, he's handsome and geniunely charming. Iko: Cinder's android was hilarious and I hope to see her in book two. Adri: Cinder's step mother wasn't as horrible as I thought she'd be. I did abhor her right to control Cinder, even with the force of the police. Pearl: Was the nice step-sister and I enjoyed her character. Peony: The snotty step-sister but I didn't hate her. Levana: The Lunar Queen is one nasty lady. I will enjoy seeing her upcoming fall from the throne. Dr. Erland: I loved this character! He was such a prime role in just about everything Cinder did. He was smart, strong, and a very dependable friend for both Cinder and Prince Kai.
Romance It's funny to see Cinder fall for Prince Kai. She's all "Everyone thinks he's soooo handsome. Idiots." and then she practically drools like a puppy dog the first time she meets him! She does play hard to get but I don't really blame her.
He's nothing like I'd thought he'd be. He's super nice and sharp as a tack. The amout of respect he gave Cinder, being a female mechanic and later a cyborg, was great to see.
Title/Cover Bonus Brilliant!
Ending GAH! I can't wait for book 2! While this one didn't end with much resolution it was a fitting ending.
Series Scarlett (Lunar Chronicles, #2) will release in 2013! Cress(Lunar Chronicles, #3) will release in 2014. Winter (Lunar Chronicles, #4) will release in 2015. ...more