I'm always complaining about how teen books are so unoriginal and how someone needs to come up with a better concept. It seems in YA lit there are two...moreI'm always complaining about how teen books are so unoriginal and how someone needs to come up with a better concept. It seems in YA lit there are two types of books that sell. One is the paranormal romance where teen girl falls in love with gorgeous yet tortured man/supernatural monster (insert type of gorgeous yet tortured man/supernatural monster ex, vampire, werewolf, angel, etc...) and two, is the dystopian society. And both bestselling boo formulas come from their inspiration, the original bestselling paranormal romance in teen, twilight, and the original bestselling dystopian, the hunger games (and I know there were other books like them before them, but they really are the two who launched the genre craze.
So how do you come up with an original book that will still get published???
Here's how. You take the bestselling dystopian genre, sprinkle in some sci-fi cyborgs and androids, add a hint of romance and a gorgeous prince, mix it all together with a timeless classic fairytale, and what do you get? Cinder, the story of a cyborg Cinderella living in New Beijing after World War Four. Yep, it doesn't get much stranger up than that. So you can see why I was so hesitant to pick this up.
But I did, and I was pleasantly shocked.
Cinder boasts not only of an extremely interesting and unique plot and characters but of extremely entertaining and readable ones too. The plot is fast-paced and fun. It asks many questions and answers some of them, and after a slightly lack-luster climax leaves the reader at a extremely annoying cliff-hanger. So no, this book is not perfect. The plot is interesting with many subplots and threads running; a plague ravaging the city, a mysterious lunar people living on the moon and the looming threat of the ball approaching to name a few, but not all the threads are tied up. I'm guessing they'll eventually be tied up, just after a few more books wrack in some cash for the author. As for the questions which were answered, how much more predictable can it get??? I guessed the answer to the main mystery about 3 hundred pages before the secret was revealed. Foreshadowing should be done lightly, not made so obvious that you don't even feel clever for figuring out the secret. All those annoying things aside, it was still a page-turner, and I tore through this novel longing to know what happens next.
Now after reading my last paragraph, you probably don't understand where my four star rating came from. Well, it came from the characters. Number one, Cinder. Cinder is cyborg from the future, so I should never be able to relate to her right? Wrong. She's much easier to relate to and root for than I could have guessed. She's strong, smart and determined, nothing like the Cinderella depicted in one of my favorite childhood movies singing with mice as dancing with the handsome prince. This Cinderella knows what she wants and will fight to get it. As for the Prince, all I can say is WOW. Prince Kai is the most swoon worthy prince ever to grace our pages. He is so absolutely prefect yet flawed and just WOW. The romance between Kai and Cinder is believably sweet. And Peony and Pearl as the stepsisters? Can I just say I was so glad the author decided to include a nice stepsister. Peony was such a great character. Pearl and her mother on the other hand felt a little underdeveloped. It would have been nice to see a little more of what made them so wicked, especially Pearl. As for Cinder's sidekick, who happens to be an adorable robot, all I have to say is that she is so hilarious!
The world building was interesting yet lacked a little. This is not a futuristic America but a futuristic China and while it had some Chinese aspects, it could have had many more. As for the Lunars on the moon, why are they there? Why do they have superpowers? Why don't they work on everyone? Are the superpowers magic or science? If science, how on earth does that work?
Overall: 4 stars: Despite being flawed, this book is a light and fun read with a unique and original premise that lives up to expectations and delightfully 3d characters.(less)
After devouring Across the Universe and its even more amazing sequel I knew I had to get my hands on another great sci-fi read and Glow seemed to fit...moreAfter devouring Across the Universe and its even more amazing sequel I knew I had to get my hands on another great sci-fi read and Glow seemed to fit the bill. At a glance, it had the same heart-pounding, edge-of-your-seat action and romance mix set in space. It also promised to live up to the expectations set by Across the Universe and to tide me over at least for a little while until Shades of Earth finally hits shelves.
Well, it lied.
Glow is like ATU's ugly wannabee cousin. The similarities between the two are non-stop with ATU coming out on top every time. Number one, the characters. The characters were really what pushed this book from 4 stars to 2. The two main characters were strong and determined and admirable but totally distant and not at all people who you could relate to and root for. I found myself not caring if they succeeded or not in finding each other again. The secondary characters are interesting, and some hint at unfulfilled depth. The aspect of 'you don't know who you can trust' is a start but badly executed since I really do know who to trust most of the time or I simply don't care. The characters are all rather flat and 1d when they could have all been so much more. Take the main villain for ex: what made her do what she did? Did she really believe what she was doing was right? Those questions are partly explained yet never fully answered. This novel is dark, and characters die. But even when important characters are killed, I didn't care. I didn't feel sadness or anger or shock. Nope, this book failed at stirring any emotion over its entire length.
And what of the plot? Did it manage to redeem the story where the characters couldn't? Well, yes and no. The author definitely tried to push her plot into fast-paced action and suspense but it only felt half done. The plot is never slow or halting which is good, but it never kicks into high gear either. The twists and turns are no where near the level they could have been and since many of the plot aspects involve sciency space stuff, I only partly understood or cared about what was going on. Despite spanning over 3 hundred pages and having an action-packed premise, I never really felt like that much happened during the book. The climax was pretty quick and not terribly exciting or emotional though I must give the book kudos for actually having a climax. The plot and the characters go hand in hand so without characters who invoke emotion, the plot suffered badly.
One thing I was interested in learning about was why had the ship left Earth in the first place. The book hints at something terrible happening back home but it never explains what. I can only assume it will be better elaborated on in future sequels. Too bad I won't be reading them.
Something I never expected to be involved in the plot was the religious aspects and themes which were explored. The good and the bad of religion were explored and this was rather interesting though it annoyed me that the characters either hated religion or were using it for evil and to ensnare the minds of their followers. Unfortunately this is a real problem in the world and it was interesting to use this aspect in a sci-fi novel.
Next point, the romance. Or should I say the lack of romance. It was constantly mentioned how much the two lovers missed each other yet I failed at believing it. There was so little romance and it felt so unconvincing that it was cringe-worthy.
Overall: 1.5 stars. The author tried desperately, yet failed at delivering a page-turner.(less)
I'm going to break my review down into the aspects of what in my mind are a good story:
Characters: I liked the characters and they're what really sold...moreI'm going to break my review down into the aspects of what in my mind are a good story:
Characters: I liked the characters and they're what really sold the story for me. The main characters are very developed and interesting, especially Perry and Talon who were my favorites.
Plot: The plot was ok. I loved some aspects of it, and it seemed to move well at first, but my main problem was that it never really mounted into any sort of climax, it just kept flowing steadily throughout the entire book.
Action/ Adventure: The action was good and fast-paced. The cannibals were just the right level of creepy and the Aether storms were a great action scenes without an enemy you can fight. The powers were great since the heroes had powers which let them have some special ability without being 'unbeatable' which is the worst (think sparkly vampires).
Romance: The romance was nice in one way and not so nice in another. It was great to see characters whose romance grew slowly instead of bam! insta-love! On the other hand, I didn't feel their connection as strongly as I wanted to, they didn't seem the best match in my opinion.
Writing style: The writing style was a huge low for me. It's very wooden, choppy and never mounts to anything lyrical or well described. Sentences are always cut off instead of using commas and the author had a tendency to tell and not show.
POV: Third person perspectives are never my favorite (despite the fact that my fave book of all time pulls it off flawlessly) since you don't get deep enough into the characters thoughts and senses. This book does it decently, and I managed to understand the characters but never felt like I actually was the characters, feeling their pain and suffering, their joy and love.
Plot twists: Decent amount of twists and surprises though no jaw dropping revelations or events that make you absolutely need to continue.
Page-turning ability: This is by no means an addicting page turner but it is a fast and engaging read where you will have a hard time putting it down.
Locations: The location was pretty good especially the Realms which I loved.
Names: This is stupid, but names matter to me a lot. I had hoped for a greater separation between Dweller names and Outsider names but that lacked a little. The Outsider names tended (not always) to be shorter (or with short nicknames), more abrupt and more nature-oriented like Peregrine (falcon), Talon, Brooke, Roar, etc... I love the name Perry but I have mixed feelings as to whether it suited this particular Perry. When I think Perry, I think a secret undercover agent/ adorable pet platypus with a trademark growling sound and a little hat perched on his head. And when I think Peregrine, I think an equally adorable little hobbit named Pippin. Neither of those descriptions match the savage yet gentle hero in a teen-dystopian.
Dystopian/ Fantasy/ Sci-fi/ Paranormal/ Mystery aspect: This is the first dystopian society where I would have absolutely loved to live in. The realms sound so much fun (and yes, I know the point is that real is better, but who wouldn't want to feel like they're flying, visit anywhere in the world with a single thought or change your hair a different colour than back again?). The dystopian society isn't really the focus of this novel, and it isn't even a dystopian novel really. It's more of a fantasy/sci-fi blend which isn't usually a good combo, but works ok in this novel. Not perfectly, but not cringe-worthy.
Similarity to other books/ Uniqueness: People have compared it to Blood Red Road, which I have not read since the writing style turned me off, so I can't say how it compares. It does remind me however of Graceling, (which I despised) in the aspects of the senses, the journey, the way the romance builded, and the way the story never came to a proper climax. It is however, far superior over Graceling in many other aspects. It's a pretty unique book, not much like it out there. Update: I've now read Blood Red Road which I enjoyed more than this book, and I found that though there were some similarities, in the end they were very different kinds of books.
Title: Love this title! One of the reasons I chose this book in the first place!
Cover: Again, love this cover and the use of colour, it perfectly complements the novel inside.
Overall: 3.5 stars for being interesting but not amazing.(less)
Better than the last! So completely unputdownable that once I finished I was so angry I wanted to throw my book across the room since there was no way...moreBetter than the last! So completely unputdownable that once I finished I was so angry I wanted to throw my book across the room since there was no way I could wait for another year for the next book.
Characters: Yes! I still loved Elder and Amy (and even better, Elder&Amy) and could totally relate to what was going on (ok mostly, since they were on a spaceship). I felt their pain along with their happiness and I simply couldn't wait for them to finally get together! The supporting cast were awesome but I didn't care for any of them other than Amy, Elder and Harley (I miss him so much!). You never knew who to trust, and I completely guessed the wrong killer this time even though it should have been obvious.
Plot: So good, just so good. Unbeatable. Unstoppable. Fast-paced and simply so intense you could do nothing but read and read and read.
Action/Adventure: One word, intense.
Romance: Amy+Elder<3 I love them together. They're simply perfect for each other and their relationship came naturally. Amy is smart to question her feelings instead of jumping into the 'oh I love you but don't even know why since we're horrible together' like so many stupid teen novels. She's smart to think, 'well do I love him since we're the only kids on board and we have be together, or would I love him above all the other boys if he was on earth with me?' but after a while I was just like get together already!!! Thankfully they do:)
Writing style: The writing suits the book perfectly, never pausing in intensity, its the kind of writing that makes you desperate for more.
POV: Same as last book, the POVs weren't written differently, but the characters are still different. Elder and Amy think differently, process info differently, and have different opinions on things. This is what makes reading the dual voices so interesting.
Plot twists: The first surprised me sometimes, yet I still managed to predict most of it. This one however, I predicted one major plot development, then feeling proud of myself attempted to figure out the rest before the characters did. I failed miserably. It should have been so obvious as to whodunit but somehow it managed to elude me. My suspect however, was involved just not the mastermind which should have been completely easy to figure out but nope, it wasn't. It didn't come out of no where though, and I along with the characters are far from stupid. Well done, Beth Revis. All the clues Orion gave to Amy were just genius! And I admire her even more for managing to solve them. Man, that girl is smart!
Page-turning ability: This is what all books aspiring to be page-turners should look up to. I couldn't finish fast enough, yet I never wanted it to end. Ugh!
Names: I loved how the names reflected the setting. Names are gonna change throughout the centuries, of course they will. The names of the characters on the ship mix names from present days and give them a believable futuristic spin. Ex: Mary or Mara to Marae. Plus, Elder is such a good name. Not sure why, but it just suits him. Amy suits her too, since it's good to have one normal common name thrown in.
Similarity to other works/uniqueness: This book manages to be very unique in a time of cliches and rip-offs and offers a fresh view of sci-fi. The next book seems like it will be sorta like Avatar and that makes me so excited.
Ending: OMG I nearly died! I equally hated and loved this cliffhanger since I'm so happy that what happened at the end happened but I simply cannot wait for an entire year before learning what happens next!!!
Title: BEST TITLE EVER! Seriously, it's just beautiful and perfectly fits the book.
Cover: Gorgeous, but what else can you expect from an Across the Universe book? I want whoever published it to publish my book (when I finish it) so I can get a gorgeous cover like that.