Just finished these books… and stars, they’re a lovely world full of action, rebellion, romance, sarcasm and more goodies. I’m going to keep this review as spoiler free as I can (and if I end up adding a spoiler, I’ll let you guys know before hand).
Without further ado, let’s get into it.
Rating: four stars
Well. I must say. This book starts off wonderfully with a vivid description of New Beijing, and our MC – Cinder. Yes. Like Cinderella. But not. This one doesn’t have a glass slipper, but a metal foot instead. She’s a cyborg, and a mechanic in the dusty overcrowded streets where she lives.
However, she is under the custody of her lovely stepmother, who treats her as little more than a slave, demanding that she works for her keep, fixing their broken androids, port screens, hover cars, and all other manner of wonderful inventions and machinery that exist in this world.
She has two sisters, of course, Pearl, and Peony. Peony was lovely and kind and sympathetic to Cinder, and it was lovely to see how devoted Cinder was to her sister, and Pearl, was just as nasty as the stepsisters in Cinderella are supposed to be.
Cyborgs are shunned in New Beijing, because they are considered ‘not natural’ and ‘science experiments’. They are given less rights, and are often discriminated against because they were given a second chance at life, and therefore, they should give back their life to those still living, through servitude. So Cinder’s stepmother has an excuse to treat her the way she does, and no one prevents it.
And what is worse, is that this world is also riddled with a horrible plague, called Lutemosis, that has no cure, is fatal, and takes random people everyday. Talk about scary!
And then, one fateful day, the prince (Kai) visits Cinder at her little booth in the market, asking for her to fix his personal android (a childhood nanny, as androids can function as caretakers, house cleaners, delivery droids, and more). The rest of the story spirals from there.
And yes, there is a ball.
I loved how the plot seemed to be all knit together, even though we were only fed one thread at a time. It was absolutely lovely to pick up on bits and pieces of the plot and get to those ‘aha’ moments where you realize that that one random tidbit was actually entirely crucial and changes the whole world, so to speak.
That gets us to our villain: Levana. She is the queen of the big ol’ rock in the sky we know as the Moon, but the citizens of future earth know as ‘Luna’.
Luna started out as a colony, but over time, became it’s own regime, full of Lunars who are not at all human. They can manipulate bioelectricity, which means that they can force people to do and say what they want them to. They can also force people to see what they want them to, and this is called a ‘glamour’. Lunars change their glamours much like humans change outfits, except a lunar glamour can change your appearance completely… hair length and colour, skin tone, eye colour, etc. And they can change it whenever they want. This means that Lunars appear completely beautiful all the time. It also means that they have evolved into a ruthless, coldhearted race, with the most coldhearted of them all as their queen.
Lunar’s don’t like mirrors.
I loved this little tidbit.
It makes sense, as they can’t glamour a mirror, and when they look at them, they see their true selves. This was such a great theme to add into the novel… about how the Lunar’s are so attached to the appearance they don so others perceive them as beautiful, that they can’t stand to look at their true appearance. It is a topic that drives home for many teenagers, and Marissa Meyer did a lovely job of dealing with it.
There were other good themes in this novel as well, such as family, and devotion thereof, honour, duty, love, and standing up for yourself, even when others think you the lesser being.
And the plot.
It was lovely in the beginning, terribly worrisome and intense, and then it drew out a little bit in the middle as Cinder flails around, trying to figure out what to do, and how to react, and what life choices she’s going to make, and then the action picks up in the end again, building and building and building until the very last scene and the climax where everything explodes in a flurry of sparks and glamour and bullets and awesome tension and feeling.
And that’s the end. We are left with some resolution, but not much. There are still so many things hanging in the air, that it’s almost impossible not to pick up the second book immediately and start reading. Luckily, I had the second book nearby, and that is exactly what I did.
I think the most satisfying thing about the ending, however, was that Cinder had a lovely character arc, where she went from caring about herself and what others thought of her mechanical extremities, to caring more for the safety of others and new Beijing. Awesome!
And that brings us to….
Rating: five stars
And now we have a new cast of characters. Three new ones, actually. Thorne, Scarlet and Wolf.
And yes. Scarlet is our version of Little Red, and Wolf is… well…. the wolf. I bet you didn’t see that one coming ; )
“She did not know that the wolf was a wicked sort of animal, and she was not afraid of him.”
This one picks right where the last one left off, except where there was some drag in the plot during Cinder, there is no drag in this one.
We flip between the POV’s of our four main characters, following Cinder and Thorne (a very unlikely team to start) as they scheme aboard the Rampion and also Scarlet and Wolf as they traverse a tricky path into webs of lies and deceit.
I loved our new characters immensely. Cinder was ever her bold and practical self, Scarlet was just as daring and sarcastic as her red hair suggests, Wolf was a shady and yet endearingly shy street fighter, and Thorne was the ever charming, ever witty player of the galaxies.
It is so so hard not to give away any spoilers from Cinder and just start ranting on and on about how this happened here and that happened there, and stars above there was so much going on. But I’ll keep this spoiler free in hopes that you guys go out and enjoy this series for yourself. In short it was a lovely second adaption.
I know I was hesitant at first, not having the entire novel from Cinder’s point of view anymore, but after reading it, I am so glad that Marissa made the decision to add in more characters. We got to see new perspectives to the building tension, and how they all somehow looped together, as well as having two completely stressful plots to follow towards the end of the book.
And let me just say I loved Wolf. So many ‘bad boy’ love interests in novels are actually jerks, and yet the main characters like them anyway. Well this one does fight, yes, and has strangely bright eyes and insanely fast reflexes, however, he is sweet and hesitant, and has a love for tomatoes.
His past is a rather tangled web of lies, but he becomes crucial to the plot, and stays ever sweet and devoted throughout it.
Amusement touched the corner of his lips. “Animals love me.”
“Oh, I’m sure they do,” Scarlet said, beaming with fake encouragement. She shut the door before muttering, “What farm animals don’t love a wolf?”
So yeah, I basically love him and Scarlet, even though they caused such angst and tension in this novel.
But let’s just marvel about Thorne, Cinder, and Iko for a moment.
Quick update, Iko is an android that Cinder fixed, who supposedly has a ‘faulty’ personality chip, as she is witty and sarcastic and totally humorous to be around, and ends up being crucial in this novel. When the Rampion (Their space ship) needs an autopilot control, Cinder ends up installing Iko’s personality chip into the mainframe, and her reaction is hilarious.
“Cinder,” Iko said after a few silent minutes of explorations. “I’m enormous.”
She’s such a cutie, being constantly forgetful that she is an android and not human, and therefore, it is easy for us as readers to forget that she isn’t human as well.
But let’s take a moment to marvel at the witty sarcasticness that is Thorne and Cinder….
“I don’t like to think of it as ‘stolen’. They have no proof that I didn’t plan on giving it back.”
“You’re kidding, right?”
He shrugged. “You have no proof either.”
She squinted back at him. “Were you planning on giving it back?”
An orange light blinked on in the corner of Cinder’s vision-her cyborg programming picking up on the lie.
Wait wait, here’s another one:
A relieved grin filled up Thorne’s face. “We’re having another moment, aren’t we?”
“If by a moment, you mean me not wanting to strangle you for the first time since we met, then I guess we are.”
And finally, here’s an absolutely wonderfully cute quote from Prince Kai’s perspective, regarding Thorne.
Kai neared his desk again, seeing that the fugitive’s profile had been transferred to the screen. His frown deepened. Perhaps not dangerous, but young and inarguably good-looking. His prison photo showed him flippantly winking at the camera. Kai hated him immediately.
Poor boy, stuck in his palace while Cinder’s off on near death experiences with Thorne (who she barely tolerates). But honestly, the dialogue is some of the best stuff about this novel. I could go on and on with all the good quotes, but by then, I’d have pasted the entire book into my blog post, and that would defeat the purpose, wouldn’t it? But here’s one more, just for fun. This time it’s Scarlet speaking.
“If you were a gentleman, you would offer to buy me one as well.”
“If you were a lady, you would have waited for me to make the offer.”
Well that’s enough there. On to the next one…
Rating: five perfect glittery stars!
Here is our next book, and we have one main new character. Cress. Or Crescent Moon. Most call her Cress. She was introduced in ‘Cinder’ but she had a very minor part, so it is lovely to get to know her better. We also have two new characters that are introduced mildly, as they take the status of main characters in the next book, ‘Winter’ but for now, they make brief appearances.
Cress, on the other hand, is here, and here to stay. She’s Rapunzel, and the most glorious naive, dancing and singing dreamer you ever did see. If you have seen Tangled, then Cress fits Rapunzel’s personality perfectly, down to every last skirt billowing twirl, and high pitched squeak.
You can’t help but love her. She’s a romantic, and having been secluded from humanity for so long (in a satellite instead of a tower) she is rather taken with Thorne the moment he throws the first wink in her direction. Of course, being a player, Thorne starts out completely unfazed by her affections.
“Captain,” she murmured.
“I think I’m in love with you.”
An eyebrow shot up. She counted six beats of his heart before, suddenly, he laughed.
“Don’t tell me it took you two whole days to realize that. I must be losing my touch.”
“It’s beautiful out there.”
A hesitation, before, “Could you be more specific?”
“The sky is gorgeous, intense blue color.” She pressed her fingers to the glass and traced the wavy hills on the horizon.
“Oh, good. You’ve really narrowed it down for me.”
“I’m sorry, it’s just…” She tried to stamp down the rush of emotion. “I think we’re in a desert.”
“Cactuses and tumbleweeds?”
“No just a lot of sand. It’s kind of orangish-gold, with hints of pink, and I can see tiny clouds of it floating above the ground, like…like smoke.”
“Piled up in lots of hills?”
“Yes, exactly! And it’s beautiful.”
Thorne snorted. “If this is how you feel about a desert, I can’t wait until you see your first real tree. Your mind will explode.”
And of course, Thorne is ever just as witty and charming as he was when we met him in ‘Scarlet’. I must say, Marissa has a way of working magic and making each character unique, complex, and well polished. I absolutely love the dynamic between Thorne and Cress, and even though this book is a whopping 550 pages, it did not drag once. Not once.
Not to mention that again, Marissa seems to deal with some pretty deep topics, and still have the book maintain it’s light, enjoyable sort of feel. Take this inspirational quote from Cress for example:
“Maybe there isn’t such a thing as fate. Maybe it’s just the opportunities we’re given, and what we do with them. I’m beginning to think that maybe great, epic romances don’t just happen. We have to make them ourselves.”
All of our favourite characters are back, and the tension is only getting tighter. There are more balls up in the air, more people we totally care about and are invested in, and the stakes are just getting higher and higher.
Parts of the book had me crying others had me pumping my fist in triumph, and then swooning, and then biting my nails, and man, the emotions throughout this book were intense.
At the very climax, I honestly thought everyone was going to die. There was no way they were going to get out alive… and then Marissa pulled an amazing writing stunt and had me gasping for breath and grinning like an idiot.
She left us with one little tidbit at the end of this novel… and that was… we’re heading to the moon!
And here’s one more tidbit from Thorne since I can’t resist….
A laugh came from the cockpit and Thorne appeared in the doorway, strapping a gun holster around his waist. “You’re asking the cyborg, fugitive, and the wild animal to be the welcoming committee? That’s adorable.”
Rating: four stars
Here we have a lovely novella that gives us the back story for our most hated villain: Levana.
And I must say, this novel is brilliantly woven, like the rest of the series, but it takes a special amount of skill to make us pity a villain and still hate them in the end.
“Love is conquest, love is war. This is what I think of love.”
But first, let us admire the cover. Gorgeous, isn’t it? The artistry that went into this beauty is absolutely stunning! And the flames around the mirror frame… I must admit I didn’t notice them at first, but now that I look again, and know the significance of them, it makes the cover all the more beautifully chilling, just like the lovely lady depicted on it: Levana herself.
This novel is the first real glimpse of lunar culture we get before Winter, and my goodness is it gorgeous! It’s like the crazy fashion statements of the Capitol combined with mystical grace and powers of any Fae you’ve ever read about = pure awesomeness.
But this also means, like I mentioned in my review of Cinder, that the Lunars are quite a cold race, not caring who they kill to get the perfect gown to match their most recent glamor. I amend my earlier comment, this is not the Capitol. This is the Capitol on steroids.
We have different districts (yes like the Hunger Games) but not. Each bit of the city is actually decided into districts, which are further divided into smaller sectors. For example, you might live in RM-9 which is Regolith mining sector 9, in the Regolith mining district. In other words, a heap of massive thought and planning went into the world building of Luna, and everything is mapped out in a method that is believable, functional, and realistic (for a dystopian society of course). This is awesome!
World building is often a hard feat to complete. Authors will often just want to add in parts and scenes to help along their novel and characters (or hinder them for the sake of drama) with no thought to how realistic it actually is. They don’t answer questions like “How will the people in my world get their supplies?”, or “How do people get to my city? What is the social hierarchy? What types of buildings are there, and why? Who is the ruling force, and how do they keep their city from rebelling (or in the case of a dystopian society, what viable reasons do the people have for rebelling?)”
These are all questions (among others) that must be answered for a world to seem reasonable, instead of just crafted around the characters and plot, and Marissa Meyer managed this, going above and beyond, creating a society that was as beautiful and chilling as a drawn sword.
And this world, was what brought forth a royalty that I would never ever want to be at a dinner party with. Channery, Levana’s sister, is almost a mocking portrayal of the typical ‘popular girl’. She is pretty, and flaunts this, as well as being the life of the party, stating she’d rather be known as ‘the queen who never stopped laughing’ rather than actually doing anything beneficial for her country. She is jealous, and fickle, and caring more about her own fashion and style than the lives of others, completing some despicable actions (which are too spoilery to mention) in the name of fashion and popularity.
But her brutality brought forth another mock up of a stereotypical teenager, and that is the insecure, somewhat mentally unstable silent one. Being in the shadow of her sister caused Levana to be born. She is insecure, jealous, and rather lonely.
“She cried for the girl who had never belonged. A girl who tried so hard, harder than anyone else, and still never had anything to show for it.”
This would be fine, if she hadn’t already been brought up with the selfish and somewhat morbid thoughts of her sister and parents. The total combination makes a character that I ultimately pitied but just hated all the more.
And that is so strange. How can you pity someone and hate them? I mean, with other characters like this, say Gollum from LOTR, I just pitied. I didn’t like what he did, but I didn’t hate him. I felt it was only possible to hate a character, or feel some sort of pity/sympathy for them.
But that ideal was shattered with Levana. She disturbed me with her rather evil and selfish thoughts, like:
Levana had not seen the bodies, but she had seen the bedrooms the next morning, and her first thought was that all that blood would make for a very pretty rouge on her lips.
Like honestly. The girl is a little deranged from being brought up among cold blooded lunar royals, and yet she’s the shunned one of the family, and still ended up squeezing some pity from me. Agh. I could rant and rant and rant about her, and what she did, and the ending to this story, but I want you to read it.
If you take anything from the review of this novella, it should be this:
- Levana is a very very well written and flushed out character, like the rest in this novel
- She has a very sad background, and an even sadder childhood
- The choices she made in this novel (especially regarding Evret – her love interest) are completely despicable and heart rending
- This book is definitely worth reading
I’m going to warn you all right now, that I have never ever cried more in any other book than in this one. It was so emotional and horrible and heartrending that on a scale of one to ten it surpassed and reached Les Mis levels. But was it worth it? Yes. There’s some Cinder/Winter/Jacin backstory as well, which is totally awesome and cute, and being able to understand the villain was definitely worth it.
Plus, once I knew the reasons behind Levana’s actions, and the strength of her determination to get what she wanted, it just raised the stakes for ‘Winter’ and I was so nervous for the next book. In short. Awesome. Read it.
Rating: 5 stars
And we have reached the final instalment sniff
First. Let’s marvel the cover for a moment, shall we? Isn’t it stunning? ( 9 = 9 /) applause
And yes, Winter, and Jacin join the story in this book, Winter being the Snow White parallel, and Jacin – her guard – playing the role of the huntsman.
Winter, unfortunately is a little crazy in the head due to refusing to use her lunar gift on others.
“She was prettier than a bouquet of roses and crazier than a headless chicken. Fitting in was not an option.”
But this makes for one fun and loveable character, as she’s whimsical and dreamy, singing whenever she wishes, dancing around the hallways, and generally very cheery. Yes, sometimes the hallucinations she sees are a little strange and scary (like the walls of the palace bleeding) and they’re the reason she relies on Jacin. He’s her childhood friend and what keeps her grounded, bringing her back to reality each time hallucinations hit.
Winter trailed her fingers along her harness and sang to herself, “The Earth is full tonight, tonight, and the wolves all howl, aa-ooooooooooh…”
Their dynamic was an awesome part of this book, and I am so glad they made it into the casting call for this series.
Winter plays a huge role in the plot in this one, and ends up making some amazing decisions to help Cinder and her friends (despite that she seems completely crazy). They owe her a lot, and I think that’s awesome. She was trying to keep from hurting people with her gift, compromising her own sanity in the process, and yet she still was strong and very crucial to the team even so.
And yet she was so sweet and lovable, true to Snow White!
Winter reached over and pulled the pilot’s harness over Scarlet’s head. “Safety first, Scarlet-friend. We are fragile things.”
And of course our other characters still have their usual sass and witty banter:
“When she catches you,” the guard snarled, “my queen will eat your heart with salt and pepper.”
“Well,” said Cinder, unconcerned, “my heart is half synthetic, so it’ll probably give her indigestion.”
Kinney looked almost amused.
And again, some awesome themes:
“If anyone dies today it will be because they finally have something to believe in. Don’t you even think about taking that away from them now.”
And another one:
“Yeah, but broken isn’t the same as unfixable.”
And here’s one from Winter, regarding her reasons for not using her glamour on anyone. This is an especially good quote, and a very good theme as well, seeing that it is the core reason behind why Levana is such a despicable person. So to have Winter be the opposite of her makes her all the more lovable and endearing. Here’s her quote, regarding Lunars using their glamour to make people see or feel things.
“We think that if we choose to do good only good, then we are only good. We can make people happy. We can offer tranquility or contentment or love, and that must be good. We do not see the falsehood becoming its own brand of cruelty.”
This book, even though it is a whopping 800+ pages, it didn’t feel any longer than the other books, because each and every little bit of it was packing with action and awesome dialogue, tense moments, angst, heartsoaring moments, and more. I literally was on the edge of my seat for the entire time.
Plus, I suppose the fact that I never wanted the book to end made the length more wonderful. Honestly, if it was shorter, then I would have felt extremely cheated.
The climax was literally the most stressful thing I have ever read. I thought everyone was going to die and the world would end and there was just… no way.
But Marissa wrapped up her series exceptionally well, crafting the best ending to a YA series that I have read, to date. We got resolution, and it was realistic (bittersweet) but satisfying.
Another awesome thing about the series on a whole, is that through the first three and a half books, the characters don’t swear, once. They use their own terms, like “Oh stars!” or “Aces!” which show surprise, relate to the setting and book, but are not obscene for the sake of it. Way to go Marissa! However hell is used twice in ‘Winter’, but seeing how often swear words make it into modern YA, I find it awesome that Marissa chose to keep them out on a whole.
In conclusion… this series is amazing. Go read it, and tell me what you thought!