Thursday, 23 April 2015

The Lunar character we all love to hate

Mirror, mirror on the way.  Who is the fairest of them all?  Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as ruler who uses her "glamour" to gain power.  But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lives a very different story - a story that has never been told ... until now.  Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes an excerpt from Winder, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.

So now we know the origins of Levana and why she constantly wears that blasted veil whenever she is somewhere where she cannot control people’s minds.  You sort of want to sympathise with her but she is too unlikeable, a true nefarious villain from days of yore.  Levana is definitely a product of her upbringing.  Obviously insanity runs in the family and this becomes her driving force.

She needs an alliance with earth as she is systematically depleting Lunar’s resources with little or no regard as to how it affects her people, but no matter she can control them with her mind.  She will go to any length to get what she wants, and that even includes impersonating someone’s ex-wife, creating a monster army to do her bidding, and committing murder.  She is truly a wicked, psychotic, twisted person. 

On a slightly lighter side, well it isn’t really, we also learn the origins of Cress and the part of Cinder’s story that she cannot remember.  Finally we are further introduced to Winter and her back story.  As in the traditional tale Winter was obviously too beautiful so Levana took her revenge on her too (like Levana’s sister did to her!).

Unfortunately there are a couple of incidents that are briefly mentioned yet we receive no detail about them at all, not least Levana’s speech at her parent’s funeral and the death of Channery.  This reader fells that so much more could have been made of these and other events in the story which would have negated the novella finishing at seventy odd percent but rather at 100%.  

At the end of this novella are the first couple of chapters for Winter.  I personally did not read this as I want to enjoy the book in its entirety – a taster would only make me want it NOW and it’s not out yet.

This book is far darker than the previous books, as I suppose they should be as surely the moon is darker than the sun.  I would recommend this for all of the Lunar Chronicles fans out there and that you read this after the other novels in the series (as the author wrote them).

I really liked this but I didn't love it so gave it 4 stars on Goodreads and on Amazon.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

A loveable rogue

Thirteen-year-old Carswell Thorne has big plans involving a Rampion spaceship and a no-return trip out of Los Angeles.

A short story that appeared in Target exclusive copies of Cress.  (You can also subscribe to Marissa Meyer's newsletter and this short story will be emailed to you for free!)

I think I am in love with Carswell Thorne or as he likes to call himself Captain Thorne; he has so much more, well more than Prince Kai.  He is a bit of a ‘wide boy’ but he has a heart of gold.  This reader loved that he became the love interest for Cress in her novel.

This short tells us more of one incident in his adolescence which Cress loved and idealised.  It shows how a young Carswell starts out using his good looks, charm and flirtatious personality to get something he wants.  We also see the opposite side of the coin where he feels equally conflicted for using someone to get something he wants.

This novella also shows that Thorne using his oral prowess to talk himself into but more often than not out of tough situations.  Yes, he can be arrogant, manipulative but that makes him all the more interesting.  He is also a funny, charismatic, and above all loveable.  There is definitely more to him than meets the eye.  If you didn’t love him before reading this novella I am pretty sure you will love him afterwards.

I am in love with Thorne and am  therefore biased (he needs a full book all to himself), so I rated this novella as 5 stars on Netgalley.

Does the Mec6.0 sink or swim?

The Little Android is a retelling of The Little Mermaid, set n the world of The Lunar Chronicles by New York Times best-selling author Marissa Meyer.

When android Mech6.0 saves the life of a handsome hardware engineer, her body is destroyed and her mechanics discover a glitch in her programming.  Androids aren't meant to develop impractical reasoning or near-emotional responses ... let alone fall in love.

I read this but was not impressed and indeed did not see how this fitted in with remaining books in the series.  None of the other characters were in this book and it did not add anything to the previous novels.  Oh wait Cinder makes an all too brief appearance.

Was it a case of I wanted to do a retelling of a little mermaid and would set it in a similar world as that is what is seemed to this reader.  Unlike the sanitised versions of this fairy tale, this one does not end in happiness and rainbows.

If you want to read a story about robots that want to be human you would be far better reading Glitches, but this reader is biased and she loved Iko with a passion.

This novella was OK and was rated as 2 stars on Netgalley.

And then there was Rapunzel

Cress is the third book in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles series. following Cinder and Scarlet.

Incarcerated in a satellite, an expert hacker and out to save the world - Cress isn't your usual damsel in distress.

CRESS grew-up as a prisoner.  With only netscreens for company she's forced to do the bidding of the evil Queen Levana.  Now that means tracking down Cinder and her handsome accomplice Emperor Kai.  But little does Levana know that those she seeks, ad the man she loves, are plotting her downfall ...

As paths cross and the price of freedom rises, happily ever after has never seemed further away fro Cress, Scarlet and Cinder.

This is not the fairy tale you remember.  But it's one you won't forget.get.

I seriously love this series and I am far from being a young adult but I do love Sci Fi so perhaps I was predisposed to love these books.

Cress as we all know by now is based on Rapunzel and offers a love interest for Carswell Thorne (her innocence, insecurity, enthusiasm and naivety and his worldly charm, charisma and irreverence) and they make a fine pair.  Cinder joins the happy band and adds another layer of expertise to the group.  Again Cress has been written with her own clear voice so it is easy to make her out amongst the hoard of other characters.

We know that she has been stuck on a satellite with only herself for company and the occasional visits from the Queen’s chief thaumaturge.  But everything is not all that it seems.  The crew attempt to rescue Cress and this is a desperate action whereby noting seems to go to plan and the crew are separated.  And henceforth the remainder of the novel will remain a mystery until you read it for yourself.  Suffice it to say, the decisions she makes has Cinder wondering whether she is becoming like the person we all love to hate.

Even though I had read the previous books the big reveal was a bit of a surprise (somehow this passed me by even though I had guessed the previous pivotal moments).  Iko gets a surprise and I am so pleased for her (I think apart from Thorne, Iko is my favourite character in this series.  For an android she is so human.)

Well there are obviously trials and tribulations that the team have to face and face them they do.  There is never is dull moment from the get go.  There are epic treks, damsels in distress battles and splashes of sunshine and romance along the way. Although these characters are teenagers they are way beyond their years; they are not whinny or stupid.   They are strong likeable characters that connect in more ways than one.  Even though I love how these characters connect I don’t really see why they have to be paired off; why did Thorne have to be paired up with Cress, could this loveable rouge not have been kept single as most loveable rogues are. 

That said Meyer wrote a beautiful novel wrapping up the adventures of Cress well and introducing the new character in the final chapters.  This novel cannot come too soon. 

I really liked this novel and gave it 4 stars on Goodsreads and Amazon.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

A hoodie or a cape it makes no matter - Scarlet

The second book in The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer.

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

SCARLET BENOIT'S grandmother is missing.  The police have closed her case.  The only person Scarlet can turn to is Wolf, a street fighter she does not trust, but they are drawn to each other.

Meanwhile, in New Beijing, Cinder will become the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive - when she breaks out of prison to stay one step ahead of vicious Queen Levana.

As Scarlet and Wolf expose one mystery, they encounter Cinder and a new one unravels.  Together they must challenge the evil queen, who will stop at nothing to make Prince Kai her husband, her king, her prisoner ...

*** Red Riding Hood-meets-Percy Jackson in a thrilling new spin on Grimm by Marissa Meyer, the author of Cinder. ***

I am not really sure how to review this book without giving too much of the plot away.

I liked the addition of Scarlet to the Cinder family.  This reader feels that this story is a mix of both Red Riding Hood and Beauty and the Beast.  This story picks up immediately after the end of Cinder and we meet the swoon worthy Carswell Thorne as Cinder escapes prison and he is soon recruited to her cause; and he has a spaceship.

As Cinder is escaping prison we are also told of the story of Scarlet.  Instead of the traditional red cape she has been given a hoodie that she has a strange connection with (even as it becomes ragged) as it was made by her grandmother.  Just like Cinder Scarlet is a tough, witty and feisty young woman she is determined, progressive in her thinking, very sympathetic and just a tad too readily trusting.  Her mission is to find her grandmother; who has been kidnapped.  I loved it when Cinder was rather rudely introduced to Scarlet and how they formed an alliance, together with the loveable rouge who is Carswell Thorne (of whom we are sure to learn more, in due course).

Then there is Wolf who is kind but certainly mysterious, shy does he just turns up out of the blue (and asks Scarlet for work) and what are his true motives?  Although I guessed the origins of Wolf (having read The Queen’s Army) this did not detract from the story.

The race across France was fabulous and I especially enjoyed the bit when Cinder was on Scarlet’s property (without giving too much away – that is where the connection lies).  This is just one of the twists and turns along the way when reading the novel, some are fairly obvious yet others are not.

While Cinder’s love interest languishes in the Palace in New Beijing we have a blossoming love interest with Scarlet and Wolf (this is where I see the Beauty and the Beast theme coming in).  They both realise that their interest is baseless and with a short history but they would risk their lives for each other (as any true romantic couple would) and well for the rest you need to read the book.

There is less Kai in this book but to be honest we do not need that distraction.  This reader felt that Kai is really a cardboard cut-out compared to Thorne or Wolf.

I loved the changing points of view and as each character has a totally different voice it is clear whose point of view we are reading.  It is like while Scarlet is doing this, this is what Cinder is up to.  Throughout all of this more secrets are discovered and others hinted at.  So although this story is really about Scarlet the other continuing story of Cinder receives equal attention.  And as I have said already I love the way the two stories merge.  Sometimes it is difficult to remember that the characters in these books are still teenagers or young adults, they act so mature for their ages.

This reader loves how we are introduced to the main protagonist of the next novel in the closing chapters of the preceding novel; whetting the readers’ appetite for the next instalment.  These characters then form an integral part of the following novel in the series.  Marissa you are an artist.  You have created a world where we all want to live and interact with these characters.  And then you (the author) make us wait an age until the next novel.

The plot and pacing were brilliant and this reader was never bored. To find out what is really happening in this series pick up this book (or even the preceding one) and read for yourself.  You will be glad you did.

Another 5 star novel

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Werewolves or hybrids?

It is time.  The boy must leave his family to serve in the Queen's army.  To be chosen is an hoor.  To decline is impossible.  The boy is modified.  He is trained for several years, and learns to fight to the death.  He proved to the Queen - and to himself - that he is capable of evil.  He is just the kind of soldier the Queen wants:  the alpha of his pack.

Another little story, this time offering some insight into one of the characters that occurs in Scarlet.  This poor man had no choice about becoming a member of the Queen’s Army but he was lucky insofar as he was not turned into one of the truly horrific monsters that she is also creating.

Some people have been describing these creatures as werewolves but they are, in fact, genetically altered humans.  We learn that this is a truly painful experience and takes a lot of getting used to.  We follow Ze’ev (or Z) through some of his adjustment and training.

I pity what Ze’ev went through this is just the start of the story.  I am sure we will learn so much more about him in the subsequent Scarlet.  He does not want to advance to the next level so he must excel at this stage.  But he is not a mere puppet to be mind-controlled by the Queen or her thaumaturges although he now has those beast traits he still wants to retain his humanity.

I read this, and the other novels, in the order that the author wrote them (see Glitch review) so before I read Scarlet and I felt that it did enhance that read.  If you are a potential Lunar Chronicles fan or even a true fan then this novella is a must.

I really liked this and gave it four stars on Goodreads.

Prequel to Cinder

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.  In Glitches, a short prequel story to Cinder, we see the results of that illness play out, and the emotional toll that takes on Cinder.  Something that may, or may not, be a glitch ...

This is a short and sweet prequel to Cinder that tells the tale of how she got to her step family.  It also features the first introduction to Peony, who has such a great soul and her reaction to the introduction of Cinder was wonderful.  We also meet Iko who is the first android that Cinder repairs using her amazing mechanical skills.

Unfortunately, though we only get a glimpse of the stepfather so we have no notion as to why he decided to adopt this lost soul.  Another down side (but in line with all other Cinderella stories) we are not told the reason for the stepmother’s instant dislike of Cinder … she just does.

Whilst you can read the main novels without reading any of the novellas they add so much more to the reader’s enjoyment of the main novels.

There are two ways to read this series.  

As the author wrote them (and how this reviewer read them; and the way this reader recommends you read them):
Cinder (Book #1)
Scarlet (Book #2)
The Queen’s Army  (I read this before Scarlet)
The Little Android 
     Note: As this short story is not directly related to the events in the books, it doesn’t really matter when you read it.
Cress (Book #3)
Carswell’s  Guide to Being Lucky
Fairest (Book #0.5)
The Princess and the Guard (to be released summer 2015)
Winter (Book #4)

Or chronologically:
Fairest (Book #0.5)
The Queen’s Army
The Princess and the Guard
Carswell’s Guide to Being Lucky
The Little Android
Cinder (Book #1)
Scarlet (Book #2)
Cress (Book #3)
Winter (Book #4)

I rated this book as 'I liked it' on Goodreads (3 stars)