Saturday, 18 April 2015

Kit & Clowder Book Club Month 5 - March/April 2015

The book choices for month 5 - to be reviewed during the third weekend of April were:

Book                                                                             Votes
Cinder - Marissa Meyer                                            +27
Storm front – Jim Butcher                                       +14
One for the Money – Janet Evanovich                  +7
Water for Elephants – Sara Gruen                         +6

A forbidden romance.

A deadly plague.

Earth's fate hinges on one girl ...

CINDER, a gifted mechanic in New Beijing, is also a cyborg.  She's reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister's illness.  But when her life becomes entwined with the handsome Prince Kai's, she finds herself at the centre of a violent struggle between the desires of an evil queen - and a dangerous temptation.

Cinder is caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal.  Now she must uncover secrets about her mysterious past in order to protect Earth's future.

This is not the fairytale you remember.  But it's one you won't forget.

I love being a member of my book club.  Our illustrious leader chooses four books that the group then votes on and the one with the most votes wins.  This was the one that won this month (month 5) although I voted for Storm Front by Jim Butcher because it has been on my book shelf for ages!

So I went into this with pretty much no expectations.  But OH MY STARS! I am so glad this book won!!  It was delicious in every sense of the word and I wish that I had read it sooner.  These novels are so addictive so in the space of a week I have managed to read all the novels and the novellas and am eagerly awaiting the release of Winter, which means I will need to re-read this (such a chore) before the review meeting of the book club.

A wonderful retelling of the Cinderella story set in New Beijing (a nod to the origins of this fairy tale).  I will not go into the ins and outs of the story as it will ruin the surprises for you but suffice it to say it is futuristic, sci-fi, and brilliant.  There are plenty of twists and turns but the main one I did manage to guess – to be honest it was not a stretch.

This book is aimed as teens/young adults.  Cinder’s character is brilliant; she’s tomboyish, sarcastic, funny and a survivor.  I loved that the author made her a flawed heroine who hates herself because of her differences (she is a cyborg after all).  In short she is real and jumps of the page as she grows into her own self.  In fact all the characters were wonderfully described and developed on.

I am equally in love with the android IKO who was a bundle of uniqueness.  I did find that these characters acted so much older than their ages but that might have something to so with the setting of the story.  That said, these characters stay with you when you are not reading the book, making you want to get back to them at the earliest opportunity.

I was not totally won over by Prince Kai for someone who has supposed to have been groomed for being the future Emperor; he is very young and unworldly.  When we get to his point of view in the novel he comes over as an essentially weak character who when he discovers that this potential love interest is not all she seems is initially repulsed thereby succumbing to the propaganda surrounding cyborgs without forming his own opinions.

What caused the third and even the fourth world wars?  How were the different areas of earth divided after these wars?

How and why as the Earthen Union made?

What caused the moon to be colonised?  How did these Lunars develop from the original earth colony?  Why are they so hated and dangerous?

Why are cyborgs so reviled?  Why do they become belongings to a family when they were once a true part of that family?

These and more questions are being asked my more than one Lunar Chronicles fan and we would love to have some answers.  We have enquiring minds and we need answers that so far have been unforthcoming.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want everything handed to me on a plate but there are so many elements of this story that are just skimmed over that are essential to the plot that it would have been nice to have had more of an explanation for them that the passing mentions they have received so far.

I read this book in one and a half days it was so engrossing and I was lucky enough that I had the remaining books (apart from Winter) to read directly afterwards.  So if you love Sci-Fri and fairy tale retellings and can forego some inconsistencies and a rather blatantly obvious twist then this is the book for you.  But beware read one and you will want to read all of them.

I do have a few questions though:

We know that Cinder had to change her foot as it had become too small but what about other elements of the cyborg nature.

Did she have to have her spine altered, her heart, her head, her long bones in her arms and legs, and her hand?

Why did these elements have the ability to grow with Cinder when her foot did not?

(PS:  I have noticed that with other book club books I have changed my rating and in many cases the ratings have gone down but this one will remain a firm 5 stars.)

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

What is a Thunderstone anyway?

Sneaking out at night, driving without a license, and falling for a guy weren't things fifteen-year-old Jeni expected to do while visiting Lake Itasca, Minnesota with her family.  The guy, Ice, turns out to be the local medicine man;s apprentice, and when he tells Jeni she's connected to the spirit world, her first instinct is to run.  But after Ice's stories of a mythical underwater monster - that Jeni allegedly released - prove true, she realizes it;s up to her to contain the beast.  Jeni must first convince herself that she's able, and then save the locals, Ice, and ultimately herself.

Initially this story did not grab me and I am not a huge fan of insta-attraction or even developed love elements.  I am now going to sound like my mother.  When I was a teen/young adult we did not have this in our books and I think they were all the better for it.  It meant that instead of spending time on setting up a love story the author got on with the plot – remember the famous five or the secret seven?  None of those had a love element.  Don’t get me wrong did read novels with love elements eg Little Women and that Judy Blume book that was the rage when I was 13 but they were few and far between and I have been reading for a long time! Anyway then all of a sudden everything took off and I read the remainder of the book in one sitting.  There are so many Native American legends and this is just one.  I do feel that the mythical side of the story was down played and so much more could have been made of the medicine man/apprentice relationship. Jeni is meant to be 15 years of age but she acts so much more mature than that which I suppose is OK as most American teenagers not only act older but look so much older than their years.  When I was 15 it took all I could do to look at the object of my affection/crush and if they even looked as though they were going to talk to me I would shyly retreat  In short unlike this vivacious self-assured teenager, I was socially awkward preferring my girlfriends or even my own company.  During the course of the novel though, Jeni discovers that she had hidden depths of courage, intelligence and confidence.

Yet, I can understand that Ice acts older as he has greater expectations on him given his apprenticeship.  I would have loved to have seen more of this apprentice master relationship, especially what happened on the vision quest.

I did like the angst and indeed the humour of the love hate relationship between Jeni and her cousin Tyler, who I think is my favourite character.  In the end Tyler turned out to be rather more dependable than expected. All that said, although the story was somewhat predictable, remember the dreams, It did have me invested enough in the story to want to know what would happen when; a) Jeni finds out about her family history and; b) when Ice and Jeni meet up later when he is a story teller.

Due to the simplistic language and plot line I would recommend this to my English as a Foreign Language students both the adults and young learners.

Full Disclosure: I received a free copy from Netgalley for an honest review.

I rated this 3 stars on Netgalley and 'It was OK' on Amazon (3 stars) and Goodreads (2 stars).