Month: April 2016

Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

11235712Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future

 

Goodreads/Amazon

A few years ago, when Cinder was first released, I couldn’t go to any book blogger’s site without seeing it’s cover. I was constantly reminded that it was a must-read, but for whatever reason, I just never got around to it. Maybe it’s because I’m not much of a science fiction fanatic or maybe it’s the bookworm curse of having a stockpile of TBRs that take forever to get around to.. I dunno. But I finally read it and…

I loved it.

It’s a retelling of Cinderella that I never would have imagined. It’s not elegant and full of glass slippers and pristine ballgowns. No, no, no. It has grease stains, wrinkled dresses, and robotic body parts. It’s awesome.

Cinder is amazing. She’s a world-class ass-kicker with a streak of stubborn, but the teenage girl in her still peeks through now and then. I love her snark and how, despite the way she’s treated by her stepmother, she puts others before herself.

All the characters are pretty well fleshed-out and three-dimensional. You see them, hear them, know them, and the relationships between them are genuine. Kai and Cinder have an instant attraction, but it wasn’t forced (AKA it wasn’t ooey gooey love from the moment their eyes met). Their connection is a growing and evolving tangible thing, ebbing and flowing as all relationships do.

Everything about this book feels real, from the characters to the world that Meyers has created. From the trash-littered streets to the glowing palace, it’s got layers of grungy beauty and a deep, troubled past that it’s inhabitants fight to overcome.

Overall, this book is stellar. It’s on my favorites list and is one of those books that will stick with me.

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Cheers!!

Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Laia is a slave. Eli27774758as is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

Goodreads/Amazon

“Good books don’t give up all their secrets at once.”

-Stephen King

I feel as if this is the case with An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. It begins with two very different characters, each a victim of dire circumstances, who come to find strengths they’ve never known before. They turn their backs on who they’ve been told they are and become something unexpected.

I found myself just as frustrated as Laia and Elias as they struggled to find freedom. Their journeys are peppered with riddles and mixed messages, and it’s only as the story comes to a head that all the answers begin to unfold. I think that’s what makes this story so good: they persevere and trust in their instincts, and as a result, they figure out who they’re meant to be.

The character growth is all I could hope for as a reader. Not even the minor characters remain stagnant, each affected and changed by the events that transpire.

The only character that didn’t convince me was Keenan. He seemed like an afterthought and the attraction between him and Laia felt forced. It was unnecessary except to form some kind of lopsided love triangle between Laia, Keenan, and Elias. I felt that the author was trying to make Keenan more than he needed to be – but who knows, maybe his role will make more sense in the sequels.

On the other hand, I enjoyed the tension between Elias and Helene: it was real and had a solid basis in their enduring friendship. The complexity between them was intense, and throwing Laia into the mix to create another little triangle of sexual tension made things interesting.

The relationships between these characters plays an essential role in their actions. They affect each other, pushing each other beyond what they once thought was their limit. It’s awesome and creates unexpected outcomes.

An Ember in the Ashes is well written, creating a vivid picture of tyranny, rebellion, betrayals, and hard truths. Sabaa Tahir has become one of my must-read authors.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Cheers!!