Thorne of Glass has a lot going for it. It's packed full of action, mystery, likable characters and fun dialogue. On the flip s...more Actual rating 3.5 stars
Thorne of Glass has a lot going for it. It's packed full of action, mystery, likable characters and fun dialogue. On the flip side, it also has a few tropes that I usually make me want to rip my hair out strand by strand: the love triangle, semi-insta love and predictable plot twists. That by no means makes this a bad book, because despite those annoyances, I was fully engrossed in Throne of Glass.
The Plot and Writing:
While the synopsis may come off feeling a little Hunger Game-esque, let me calm your fears now. It's not. Celaena is a young assassin who begins the book being dragged from her prison in Endovier, a salt mine prison for criminals. She's given a choice to become the king's champion (or lackey) for four years in exchange for her freedom at the end of her service. The catch is she must compete for the "honor" against other criminals. Sounds easy, right? Of course. Then people start dying, ahem, mysteriously!
With that small description the plot sounds like a winner, but I found it to be very predictable. I knew who the villain was and the foreshadowing was not subtle at all. At one point, Maas does try to steer the reader in another direction, but I knew it was just that, a distraction. But regardless, I couldn't deny that it was an exciting read. It's kinda like this: I knew how things probably would end, but I still ended up having fun along the way.
Even with it being a little over 400 pages long, it certainly doesn't read like that. The narration is set at a good pace and flows very nicely. The only thing I have to say about the writing style was that at times it felt a wee bit cheesy. There were a few lines like "Oh and she simply adored..." or "Oh how she loved candy!" that made me cock an eyebrow, but thankfully they were few and far between.
There's nothing I love more than a strong female character who speaks her mind and gives an entire male cast of characters a run for their hard-earned, cash money. Throne of Glass is being marketed as the teen girl version of Game of Thrones. Now, I've never read the books or seen the TV show, but I've heard enough about the depiction and treatment of woman in that series to say it's probably not for me. However, this is where Throne of Glass excels. Not only does it present a strong female MC, but a another secondary character, Nehemia, who also happens to be a person of color. Oh, yes, you read that right. No, ridiculous, over stereotyped, token character here! Because you know, if there is one thing that irritates me the most, it's misrepresentation in YA novels. But that didn't happen here. Nehemia is strong, incredibly smart and underestimated (of course) by everyone at court because of her nationality. Their mistake! I pity the fool who finds their self on the other end of her staff. It won't be pretty. Beautiful chaos. I'm hoping we get to see a lot more of her in the series. ;D
As for Celaena, well, she and I had this love/hate relationship going on. I find it really interesting and smart for Maas to create a character who is almost the opposite from what her society expects of her. They expect a proper lady, who never swears, has proper manners, reads poetry, quiet, ect. But Celaena is none of those things. Early on it's established that she dislikes the social expectations and makes it a point to use profanity and to embarrass the man folk with her readings of "Sunset's Passions". Seriously, she was owning these guys left and right.
"By the Wyrd! Do you actually read this rubbish? What happened to Symbols and Power and Eyllwe Customs and Culture?" She finished her drink, the ginger tea easing her stomach. "You may borrow it when I'm done. If you read it, your literary experience will be complete. And," she added with a coy smile, "it will give you some creative ideas of things to do with your lady friends."
I mean, can we all say, "In YO face."
"Here's a lesson for you, Weapons Master," she said, stalking past him. "Give me real men to fight. Then maybe I'll bother trying."
And her witty lines only get better and better from there. But of course, with all the pwning going on, she had her faults with being arrogant. Very, very arrogant. And that is where the hate comes into play. She was just too good and from the very beginning I knew Celaena would triumph because she is depicted as slightly Mary-Sueish. She's a well known assassin that can seemingly not be defeated and all man-folk fawn over her left and right. And that bothered me because it felt like there was so much more to her.
The Triangle of Love:
I was warned that this book contained a love triangle and this alone is enough to make me cringe. There are very few love triangles that I love and unfortunately this isn't one of them. When Celaena arrives at Rifthold she is drawn to both the Captain of the Guard, Chaol Westfall, and the Crowned Prince, Dorian Havillard. Oddly, it's not because the characters aren't likable enough together and it's not even the fact of one of the love interests treating her wrongly. The problem I had was Dorian and Celaena's attraction. Most of the time it felt forced, awkward and contrived. I couldn't understand where they had the time to get to know each other long enough for her to stop hating him BEFORE she started liking him. There was even a scene where Dorian promises Celaena that he won't kill one of his new pups that he deemed untrainable. And she goes, "You'd do that for me?" I swear I could FEEL her eyelashes batting at him at that very moment. I think that was supposed to make me like Dorian, but all I could do was roll my eyes.
Contrastingly, Chaol's seemed like a much more developed and realistic relationship, if you even want to call it that. But their feelings felt more organic. Side note: I don't know if this is even considered a love triangle yet. It reminds me of the whole Jacob vs. Edward. We all knew Bella would pick Edward in the end. Was Jake ever a real contender? I think not. But from what I hear from readers of the original story on Fiction Press, Celaena had quite a few suiters. It'll be interesting to see how Throne of Glass deviates from its roots. So, I suppose we will just have to wait for future installments to find out.
All in all, though it was not what I was expecting, I still enjoyed Throne of Glass. I really believe it will appeal to many young girls and I'm happy to see great examples of strong female characters in a YA novel. It feels like the sequel can only get better from here based on that ending (no cliffhanger, thank goodness!) and I, like many others, eagerly await book two.
ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley. Thank you!
Let me go ahead and get this out of the way. I loved this book. Why in the w...moreWhy?
WHY DIDN'T I READ THIS BOOK SOONER?!
It was so AWESOME!
Let me go ahead and get this out of the way. I loved this book. Why in the world did I procrastinate with reading it? I've had Cinder sitting on my Kindle for a few months now and I continued to put it off over and over again. What a HUGE mistake! I even had the nerve to go into my local bookstore twice, pick Cinder up, and put it right back down. But all that doesn't really matter now because I've remedied the problem and absolutely fallen in love with this wonderful story.
When I first heard of Cinder before it's release, it was gaining quite a bit of buzz known for the retelling of Cinderella. Marissa Meyer, my hat's off to you because a cyborg Cinderella in New Beijing, China? Badass. But then shortly before I read it, another blogger informed me that not only is it a Cinderella retelling, but also had Sailor Moon elements. OMG... someone had answered my prayers! I don't think you can understand my excitement for that.
Sailor Moon was my all-time favorite TV show and manga as a child. Reading Cinder reminded me of a simpler time before responsibilities, when the biggest thing I had to worry about was setting up the VCR (yes, a throwback!) every day because at 4pm, right before Dragon Ball Z, Sailor Moon would come on. If I were to miss one episode, I would cry my little eyes out because I just had to know what happened next to Serena! I have seen every episode including the fifth season that didn't air in America. I've even seen the live action series in all Japanese. And for those that watch subtitled Japanese shows, you know that there comes a time in your marathon watching where you stop reading the subtitles and start thinking Japanese in your sleep. Yes, I am super fangirling and not ashamed one bit! So I think it goes without saying that the reasons for me loving Cinder so much, aside from being blasted by a rainbow of awesome with its creative premise, is that it has a lot to do with sentimental memories. I tell you this so you can understand one big thing:
I wasn't sure about Cinder at first. As soon as the book started I noticed on every obvious downfall: Predictability. Seriously, the plot twist ran up to me and sucker punched me in the face at only 10% in. This concerned me, but it quickly became a non-issue as I continued to read. Why? Because the story was interesting. It was engaging. It was just plain old fun! And I haven't had this much fun reading a book in a while.
The plot was brilliantly done. Cinder is a mechanic, under appreciated by her mother and one of her step-sisters. The other step-sister adores her. As a cyborg she doesn't have the same rights as a normal person and her step-mother goes out of her way to remind Cinder this whenever she can. One day Prince Kai (*swoon*) requests her services to fix his android. And in true fairy tale fashion he begins to fall for her not knowing she is a cyborg. But this isn't just a love story. Oh no! The world has been suffering from a deadly disease that kills in a matter of days and it starts to become painfully obvious that Earth's only hope for a cure depends on an alliance with the evil Lunar Queen. And as you may have guessed it, she has plans for Earth. Dun, dun, duuuunnnnnn!
I loved all the characters in Cinder, especially the heroine. Cinder was independent, feisty, and relatable. She didn't always make the right decision, but this is a heroine that learns from her mistakes. And Tuxedo Mask Prince Kai? I loved him.
Ah, the memories!
The romance was so sweet. At first Cinder is wary of the Prince's advances because she is cyborg and doesn't want him to find out, but she can't help but develop feelings for him along the way. Basically what I'm saying here is that there's no insta-love. And you know how much I hate insta-love!
Oh, and that ending! Marissa Meyer, how could you do that to my little heart? I need to know what happens now! You took two of my favorite stories and twisted them into this big ball of badass awesomeness and now I'm expected to wait until next year for book two?! And just look at the character line-up for the next books in the series: Scarlet, Cress and Winter. Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Snow White?! I am so there. Just so we are clear, I'm not above stalking.
I will have the next book and I will have it soon...
An ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley. Thank you!
Okay, so here is a little truth for you: There is no other children's tale that scared me most as a child than Alice in Wond...more More of a 3.5 star rating.
Okay, so here is a little truth for you: There is no other children's tale that scared me most as a child than Alice in Wonderland.* I will never forget the first time I heard the story. It was by way of my grandmother and these cassette tapes she bought me called Porch Swing Stories. It was very generous of her, but let me tell you, those tapes were the devil. Pretty much all of the stories were purposefully cranked up in the creepy department and I'm convinced that the person who created such torture devices never interacted with a child. Later, I saw the Disney movie version of the tale and was further traumatized by the damn Cheshire Cat, who was just a little too happy for my taste, and his Wonderland posse. I mean, what was their problem anyway?
Well, I guess that explains it...
Obviously, since losing my heart and soul (as Kat frequently reminds me), being afraid of Alice in Wonderland is no longer an issue for me. But besides that less than disturbing fact, I had to read Splintered because A) The cover is to die for B) The cover is to die for C) The cover is to die for. This level of novel vetting always works for me. That is, except when it doesn't, but that's besides the point. Splintered brings such a unique spin on Alice in Wonderland with rich world building, re-imagined characters and a clever plot.
Alyssa Gardener, our protagonist, has a family history of insane women all starting with Alice Liddell. In fact, even her very own mother, who she distantly refers to as Allison, is committed to an asylum. With her strange ability to hear the whispers of flowers and bugs, Alyssa fears she is soon to follow. However, her true fear is ultimately losing her mother to the madness unless she can somehow break the Liddell curse. So she gathers family trinkets (a key, mirror, gloves, hair pin, etc.), repeats history and travels down the rabbit hole only to find it's not exactly the same Wonderland described in the famous story.
If you are one who, unlike myself, knows the original Alice in Wonderland pretty well, then I think you'll be very pleased with what Splintered has to offer. Right from the beginning when we are introduced to Alyssa Gardener, I could see the subtle references. But, of course, simply mentioning pieces of the original isn't enough to make it feel authentic. There's the vivid descriptions, character mannerisms and, of course, Wonderland-like puzzles and riddles. And that is where I think Howard truly excelled with this novel. She effortlessly wove in the old with the new. So instead of it feeling like a simple retelling, it's more along the lines of an extension of the original because it's clear that Howard left no stone unturned when it came to crafting the her Wonderland.
If that isn't enough to entice you, there's also this gothic feel the novel carries, especially in the beginning when the mystery of Alyssa's past is at it's strongest. Alyssa the skater girl, who likes to wear colored dreds and collects moths for artistic collages. Little things like that added a certain level of charm, but also helped Splintered to stand out as taking a slightly different route as a retelling.
Now, while I've been singing praises left and right about Splintered, there are a few things that bothered me. However, I should note that it did not detract from my personal enjoyment from the novel much.
My biggest problem would have to be Jeb, Alyssa's best friend. I can understand what Howard was going for with his characterization. Present the reader with a character who has to have some type of control over the main character to help show her resulting personal growth by the end of the novel. At least, that's what I got from it. Unfortunately, this did not work out for me. Why? Because 90% of the time I found Jeb to be a controlling douche. In the beginning, Alyssa wants to go to London to study art, so her dad and Jeb sit down for dinner to decide if she can go. Did I mention that he is only a year older than her and the love interest of the story? Yeah... I wasn't exactly thrilled with him having so much say in the matter. Yet, I tried to like Jeb. Tried and failed. Every time he went missing from the storyline, I felt myself really enjoying the book, but when he returned? Nosedive. By the end of the book, the only way to describe how I felt for him is to simply say I tolerated him. Basically, I went from stabby feelings to an eye roll whenever his character had dialogue.
Even still was his girlfriend, who has a history of bullying Alyssa. Jeb seems to never defend his best friend, but instead expects Alyssa to try harder with getting along. >_> What's worse is that Alyssa never really calls him on that. Why should Alyssa have to place nice with a bully? More importantly, why would her best friend ask that of her and never say anything to his girlfriend?
The good thing is that once Alyssa got to Wonderland the annoyances decreased significantly. Alyssa's characterization picks up and we are introduced to Morpheus. And this might surprise some that know my tastes, but I kinda liked the guy. I think his twisted personality fit in perfectly with Wonderland. But I do think the reason why he didn't bother me is because I never truly saw him as a contender for Alyssa's heart. I saw that he had feelings for her and that they shared a connection, but I never thought it would go further than that.
Overall, if you are looking for a richly imagined retelling of Alice in Wonderland,Splintered is definitely the way to go. I had a few mild reservations, but I think most people will probably enjoy seeing just how deep the rabbit hole truly goes. I did and I can't wait to see what future works Howard has planned.
*Hopefully I didn't lose too many cool points with you for that strange, compulsive confession.
ARC was received from the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review. Thank you!
I have to give it to Ms. Meyer for one again combining your favorite fairy tales with sic-fi/fantasy. Seriously, well done! The Lunar Chronicles is qu...more I have to give it to Ms. Meyer for one again combining your favorite fairy tales with sic-fi/fantasy. Seriously, well done! The Lunar Chronicles is quickly becoming one of my new favorite series and for good reason. It has kick-ass protagonists like Cinder and now Scarlet. When we first met Cinder in book one, she was shy and timid, eventually coming into her own strength. And when I heard that we would be introduced to a new main character, I was a little nervous. I was worried that I'd end up comparing the two and dislike Scarlet. But let me tell you! When Cinder was unsure of herself in the beginning, Scarlet is fierce. Who's afraid of the Big, BadWolf? Not Scarlet.
I should warn you that this review *will* contain spoilers for Cinder. So, if you haven't read book one...
Scarlet picks up directly after Cinder left off. Cinder's busy breaking out of jail, Kai is trying to placate Levana (the wretch) and we get to meet Scarlet (yay!). And if you can't remember the finer details about what happened previously, there is a nice little recap.
The biggest difference between this installment and Cinder is the point-of-view flipping. And with that, you have two different main characters with two separate goals. Scarlet's is to find her missing grandmother, who was abducted and Cinder's is to escape from the Eastern Commonwealth and... not get caught. Somewhere along the way their paths intertwine and revelations are had. Now, here's the thing: Though, overall, I did enjoy Scarlet, there are still a few things I really disliked about it too. Don't give me that look! There is method to my madness.
Things I liked:
1. The new characters - Along with meeting Scarlet, we also are introduced to two other characters, the wolf, who travels to Paris with Scarlet in search of her grandmother and Carswell Thorne, a womanizer and fugitive that escaped prison with Cinder. I thought they were both great characters, especially Thorne, who I happen to love and hate at the same time. Wolf is a bit more complex because of his past (which I can't talk about due le spoilers), but I like the mystery surrounding his character.
Scarlet is fantastic. I mean, the girl wears a red hoodie and carries a gun in her belt. Sweet and innocent? *pfft* How about sweet and deadly?
She's all about action and doesn't take "no" for an answer. She doesn't sit back and wait for someone else to save her grandmother. And I think the best way to describe her would be to quote Ms. Frizzle from The Magic School Bus: "Take chances, make mistakes and get messy!" So, while she isn't a perfect character, she certainly is determined to do whatever it takes to reach her goal. I loved that about her and I think other readers will too or at least respect her spirit.
2. I also really enjoyed the plot and back story. We get to find out more about Cinder's past and how she ended up ended up on earth and who helped her. I really think Meyer did a good job at telling two different stories and later having them weave together. And I really like seeing Scarlet and Cinder together. I only wish that they had teamed up sooner than the ending.
Things I didn't like:
1. At times it felt like there was too much story to tell. (Maybe this was just me wanting more from Scarlet.) Even though Scarlet is longer than Cinder, I'd even say that I think that there was too much happening in this installment and not enough time spent developing the new characters or the new relationships, which, incidentally, leads to my next con...
2. I'm not sure I liked Scarlet and Wolf's relationship. Since the novel very frequently flips back and forth from Scarlet to Cinder and even Kai, there wasn't much page time the reader is left developing some kind of connection with their relationship. Actually, they themselves didn't even have much time developing anything and by the end, I found it all rather cheesy. And while they do both admit that they've developed feelings for one another (in a matter of days), it never felt real because I was too busy keeping up with all the story arcs.
3. I missed Kai and Cinder being together. Kai is in the book, but I missed the chemistry they had in Cinder. I think Wolf and Scarlet's romance was supposed to fill the void temporarily, but since I didn't really spend much time with them, the sparks never flew for me. Perhaps in book three, Cress, things will be different. But right now, I have my doubts considering it looks like we will be meeting even more characters. I'm starting to wonder if this world is just too big for this series. Ah, well. We'll see.
'Cause, yeah, it needs its own section.
Kai. WHY?! WHY? WHY? WHY?
Okay. I think I need a moment to process that ending. *breathes in and out*
Did that just make you want to read this book even more than you already did? Oops.
So, in conclusion, even though I liked Cinder more, Scarlet was still a fun and exciting read. Meyer has built an interesting world, making "old faces" from fairy tales new again. And I know you're probably giving me dagger eyes for the little bit above, but just think how hard it will be for me to wait for Cress. It's torture, I tell ya.
ARC was provided by Macmillan. Thank you!
More reviews and other fantastical things at Cuddlebuggery Book Blog. ---------------- GAH!!! LOOK AT THE PRETTY COVER!!!
And I just found out about the new Sailor Moon anime!! Too much awesome for one day. I shall be off in my corner spontaneously combusting. http://t.co/29QLtAD3(less)
This is my 100th book of 2013 and it was magnificent.
NEED. WINTER. NOW.
When I first jumped on the Lunar Chronicles bandwagon, I was late to the part...moreThis is my 100th book of 2013 and it was magnificent.
NEED. WINTER. NOW.
When I first jumped on the Lunar Chronicles bandwagon, I was late to the party. I tend to avoid any novel in the blogosphere that is garnering a ton of hype, due to past experiences where the hype completely killed my enjoyment. However, I dove into Cinder trepidatiously and came out completely in love, mostly thanks to the sweet nostalgia feelings from the cleverly added Sailor Moon references. And if that wasn’t clear before, I’m somewhat of a huge Sailor Moon fangirl. Like, it's a little scary. Perhaps you should run?
Unfortunately, with Scarlet, I didn’t get the same warm fuzzies and I began to worry that this story was simply too big for Meyer to conquer. Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy Scarlet, but the pacing and connection to the characters didn’t happen for me. It wouldn’t be the first time I read a series where the best book was the first book. So, again, I found myself wary for Cress, but those worries proved to be unnecessary. Ahem, allow me to eat my words.
Cress is a complete improvement over Cinder and Scarlet. Where Cinder had its issues with predictability, Cress’s plot was noticeably tighter. While Scarlet had parts where the pacing felt off due to the dual point of views, Cress kicked it up a few notches with perfectly timed highs and lows. At no point did I find myself bored to tears, banging my head against the wall from frustration, throwing the book across the room, or simply suffering from major disappointment. It’s action-packed, well plotted, and exciting!
I should probably take this time to mention that if you haven’t read Cinder and Scarlet, 1) it’s time to re-examine your life choices 2) the rest of the review may contain slight spoilers for the first two books. But you should know by now, that's just how I roll.
The novel begins with the gang (Cinder, Thorne, Scarlet, Wolf, and Iko) on a mission to rescue Cress from her satellite. STUFF happens and things go horribly wrong, causing them to separate. What I loved about this was it gave the reader the perfect opportunity to get to know each individual character in a more intimate manner. Thorne and Cress end up stranded in the Sahara Desert, which is interesting because Cress has never stepped foot on Earth and being isolated for years didn’t exactly grant her the best social skills, and due to certain circumstances on the satellite, Throne is left blind. I didn't like this one bit. How could Meyer do this to my precious Throne?! MY PRECIOUSSS. MY PRECIOUSSS. He is sacred and must not be touched!! Still, it makes for an unlikely team and optimal time for character development and revelations. The only thing that I’m not too sure of is the romance brewing. Why does everyone in this series have to be paired up with someone? There is absolutely nothing wrong with self love. Even Oprah knows this.
That's probably something you never wanted to see. Welcome to a Steph Sinclair review.
Cinder on the other hand, struggles with decisions that she made on the satellite, ultimately leading to unfortunate outcomes for both Scarlet and Wolf. Can she really do this, lead people and start a rebellion? Should she simply give up and continue hiding from Levana? Is she slowly becoming the very woman whom she fears? She’s conflicted for most of the novel and tends to second guess herself a lot more once she realizes how severe the consequences of her actions can be. Basically, Cinder is no Mary Sue and carries mistakes and flaws just like any other character in this series.
Scarlet is not as present in Cress, but her role looks like it’ll be more important in the final installment, Winter. I can’t really talk about what Scarlet endures in this novel because I’m tip toeing around a minefield of spoilers here, but I was very surprised to see how far Meyer was willing push her character’s limits. And if you’ve already read Cress, I think you know exactly what scene I’m referring to. Can we say, “SHIT JUST GOT REAL?” I’m resisting the urge to throw in a “Brace Yourself” meme.
Oh, what the hell!
Overall, I’m left both amazed and impressed with Cress. I can confidently say that this series just gets better and better and I’d consider this my favorite so far. With the sneak peek of the newest character, Winter (she's adorably certifiable), at the end, I’m eagerly waiting for the final book. Gimme, Gimme, Gimme.
An ARC was received from the publisher for an honest review.
I loved this book and the different spin the cartoonists put on these old stories I grew up on. The artwork is different for every story (17 in total)...moreI loved this book and the different spin the cartoonists put on these old stories I grew up on. The artwork is different for every story (17 in total) and some of them are really funny. Here were a few of my favorites: