Disappointing. Being the hopeless, nonsensical romantic that I am, I have a great love of fairy tales and can devour them whole in one sitting without...moreDisappointing. Being the hopeless, nonsensical romantic that I am, I have a great love of fairy tales and can devour them whole in one sitting without coming up for air. But with this one, I felt like I was trudging through a mire of boring cliches and never-ending character pity parties. I found the writing to be clunky and careless and uninteresting. Very sub-par. There were several glaring inconsistencies too that I kept coming across. Usually I can gloss over a mistake or two without much difficulty and still enjoy the story, but one of the inconsistencies in this book was actually very crucial. In order to show you how obvious a mistake it is, I will have to explain a bit more of the background, so out come the spoiler tags. (view spoiler)[ Our heroine Kate is pretending to be her sister Victoria because said sister is indisposed with an ugly and obvious infection on her poor, little, beautiful face but has to meet with her fiance's uncle in order to get his approval before they can get married and it has to be NOW since Victoria gave away the milk for free (if you know what I mean and I think you do) and is, as a result, nearly three months along. So Kate traipses off to meet the uncle with her sister's fiance, carrying along with her an arsenal of ill-fitting gowns and outrageous wigs to make her appear more like her sister who is, of course, nothing less than a ravishing beauty unparalleled by any. So, as you can see, it is crucial to the plot that the identities be kept straight, both to the readers and to the other characters. However, Effie calls our heroine by her given name, Kate, while she is supposed to think she is talking to Victoria the night after Kate gets dunked in the lake and rescued by the prince. I waited to see if maybe Effie somehow figured out who Kate was and what was going on, but no mention was ever made to that end, so I am forced to conclude that the author was merely careless at a very crucial point in the story, which is simply unforgivable. I mean, the basic plotline demands that Kate is thought to be Victoria by the vast majority of people at the castle. To have a character address her incorrectly is so careless. (hide spoiler)] And that's not all. Characters seemed to take on and discard different temperaments and character traits like new clothes. Kate, for example, says that she never cries. Ok. That's fine. But then throughout the book she cries not once, but as many as four times. To say that she never cries and then show her crying all over the place is just another annoying inconsistency.
I will finish this review when I have time. I mush dash!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
By far my favorite of the Hathaway stories so far! I fell for Harry Rutledge, and I fell hard. I have never never never been able to resist those supe...moreBy far my favorite of the Hathaway stories so far! I fell for Harry Rutledge, and I fell hard. I have never never never been able to resist those super strong, self-reliant men with the secret vulnerable side that is shared only with the heroine. I didn't even mind that he was willing to use whatever unscrupulous advantages he could to get the woman he loved; I liked it, even. I mean, I know, what he did was sneaky and underhanded and wrong, but I understood why he did it. I love that Kleypas wasn't afraid to really go there with his character. I mean, she showed me every reason why I shouldn't love him or even like him, but I still managed to end up head over heels. I'm all about the redemption arcs. Relish them, in fact. There's nothing as hopeful as seeing how people can rise above what they and others think they are and become a better, more fulfilled version of themselves. Your past is part of who you are, but it doesn't have to define you. There is always hope. It's a lovely thought, at any rate.(less)
Oh me oh my, this book was very nearly awful. For so many reasons. I don't know. I just wasn't impressed. And more than a little annoyed. There was a...moreOh me oh my, this book was very nearly awful. For so many reasons. I don't know. I just wasn't impressed. And more than a little annoyed. There was a fair bit of eye rolling. And snorting. And a little head shaking. From the very beginning of the book the way the author was going on gave me the impression that the story was taking place in the 18th century until - surprise! - it's the 1980's. There was more than a little confusion. The heroine was so ridiculously sheltered and innocent and prim and proper and behind the times that it very nearly boggled my mind (and I never use the word "boggle" lightly. Ever. Mind-boggling is a very delicate endeavor and should be undertaken with the utmost care and precision). And then all of a sudden she becomes a sex-crazed, impassioned woman that felt so completely out of character for her. I get that it was some sort of sexual awakening for her, but COME ON. And the way the hero and his son kept going on and on and on about how racist everyone was and how they hated them because of their race and how they could never be happy because of their race and oh, yeah did you hear? - every single person in their town is freaking racist. Because they are Native Americans. And everyone is racist. Not that I'm doubting that people like that exist - believe me, they do, and I know it. But be that as it may, I don't need to hear about it every single time the hero opens his mouth. I mean, really, all of this "half-breed" nonsense was just so over-the-top and unrealistic. I understand that it was a central theme in the book and a driving force behind the rape-plot, but it came off as a very whiny, angsty catch-all for every one of the hero's problems. I mean, if things were so bad there, why didn't they just leave? It's hard to fathom staying in a place where you feel so ostracized and hated. In the book he gives some silly, cardboard reason for staying put, but it fell flat for me. The entire book fell flat.(less)
Absolutely adored the first parts of the book to bits and pieces! Once our hero returns to London, however, the book became rather tedious and painful...moreAbsolutely adored the first parts of the book to bits and pieces! Once our hero returns to London, however, the book became rather tedious and painfully drawn out. This definitely had potential to be an all-time favorite, so I am a little let down by it all. Still, I am eagerly awaiting the continuation of this series!(less)
Let me preface this by voicing a sentiment that is not unfamiliar to YA readers: I am not big on Contemporary Fiction. I am much more of a fantasy, pa...moreLet me preface this by voicing a sentiment that is not unfamiliar to YA readers: I am not big on Contemporary Fiction. I am much more of a fantasy, paranormal, supernatural girl. My heart lies therein. Always has, and I suspect that it always will. Not that I don't enjoy a good contemp every now and then, because I most certainly do. Overall, though, my experience with this genre hasn't been anything mind-blowing. That was before I read The DUFF. This book has made me a believer.
For the past couple of months The DUFF has been one of those books that seemed to follow me around wherever I went, nagging me to read it, latching itself into the back of my mind. We all have a few of those books in our lives, right? The book your real-life friends won't stop talking about, the one that seems to pop up on every single In My Mailbox post you come across, the one your goodreads friends have been sending you recommendations for non-stop. It seems to me like this book is everywhere. As crazy and egotistical as it sounds, it's like the universe has been conspiring to bring more awesome into my life in the form of one very persistent book. All I can say is well done, universe. Well done.
I adored this book from the very first page. Adored it, adored it, adored it. It was a frank and refreshing look into the lives of high schoolers that doesn't shy away from the hard topics like sex and alcohol. It felt so real. The characters came to life for me. They really leapt off the pages. They felt like people I could run into on the street outside. They are the kids I went to high school with and the people in my college classes now. Bianca is a wonderful, engaging narrator. She is clever, fierce, headstrong, wonderfully complex, and, if I'm being honest, a little bitchy. Her growth as a character was really well done, and I loved seeing her learn more about herself and finally face her own fears and problems. I have a tendency to run away from my problems and push them away without dealing with them just like Bianca did in the story (well, minus all of the mindless hate sex), so I felt a very real connection to her character.
One of the most annoying things that I tend to come across in YA books nowadays is dialogue that is stiff, unnatural, unrealistic, and just all around cringe-inducing. I'm always wary of that coming into books, especially those of the contemporary/realistic fiction genre. Dialogue problems are not limited to this genre by any means, but there's more pressure there to be realistic and get it right, I think. The DUFF had no problems delivering on this front. The banter was searing and funny and never once felt forced. There is swearing, too. Lots and lots of it. This doesn't bother me at all, but I realize that it will probably be an issue for quite a few people, so you have been warned. Along with the swearing there is also a bit of sex and other mature content and themes that might be a little much for younger YA readers. I do believe all of the themes explored are worthy of this exploration, of course, but I know many parents might disagree with me here. To each their own.
CONCLUSION: Refreshing, sizzling, and unapologetically honest, this book is a must-read for lovers of the YA Contemporary Fiction genre and even for readers who are a bit pickier with their contemps (like I am). I couldn't put it down! (less)
MY THOUGHTS: I'd like to start this off with a profession of adoration for the cover art. It's completely perfect! It's dainty and feminine with a tw...more MY THOUGHTS: I'd like to start this off with a profession of adoration for the cover art. It's completely perfect! It's dainty and feminine with a twist of futuristic, kick-ass cyborg. What more could you ask for in a cover? The font works really well, too. It's very fairytale-esque and still almost mechanical at the same time. I also happen to be an obscenely huge fan of fairytale retellings (although Beauty and the Beast variations are my favorite), so you can see why I'm fangirling over this book. Plus, I'm a shoe girl, and Cinder is working those heels!
For me, Cinder was a huge improvement on the classic Cinderella tale (or at least the Disney-fied version that we're all familiar with). This girl doesn't wait around wishing that things would get better or waiting for a fairy godmother to rescue her. She tries to rescue herself (and a whole lot of other people while she's at it), which makes for a much better story, don't you think? I like my heroines strong and feisty, thank you very much. Not only is she self-sufficient, she's also an amazingly proficient mechanic, which kind of makes sense, her being part machine and all that.
One thing I really liked in Cinder was the romance between the protagonist and her love interest, Prince Kai. I thought it was slightly understated and more mature than a lot of the relationships I've been reading in YA lately, and by that I mean that is was blissfully void of the pining and woe-is-me inner character monologues that usually make me cringe. I mean, sure, Cinder imagines about how great it would be to get with that hot and wealthy prince who keeps asking her out (I mean, who wouldn't?), but she's very matter-of-fact about it. When the reader sees things from Kai's view, there is no strange, all-consuming, supernatural longing for a girl he's known all of two minutes. He likes her, but he's not obsessed with her. He asks her out, he doesn't stalk her from outside the tree by her window while she sleeps. The other men of YA should take notes (cough, Edward Cullen, cough). It is to be noted, too, that I have just finished reading The Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon which features a creepy and stalkery love, so I might just be super sensitive to this issue.
I really enjoyed the mythology (for lack of a better word) that Meyer's has created in this series, too. A futuristic Earth that is ravaged by a vicious pandemic brought on by contact with the Lunar alien race. Oh, did I not mention that there are aliens in this book? Because there are. Cyborgs, aliens, plagues, princes. What more do you want? This book has something for everyone. Meyer's also introduced an interesting and relevant social aspect in the way that cyborgs are treated by society as if they were lesser people or property. Cinder's stepmother can literally control every single aspect of her life, including whether she lives or dies, simply because she is part machine. I can't wait to see how Cinder challenges and changes these ideals in future books.
Now for the things that weren't so great: there were a few parts in the book where I just automatically knew where the author was heading with certain plot points. Without giving anything away, there's a pretty big revelation at the end of the book that any reader with average observational abilities could see coming from a mile away. One thing retellings generally do have working against them, though, is the same thing that makes them kind of great: they are stories people are familiar with. It's hard to surprise people with a story they've heard before. The details are different, but the core is a Cinderella story through and through.
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