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I have to admit that when I first saw advertisements for Cinder, it didn’t inspire me to add it to my ‘To Read’ list. In fact, it wasn’t until the release day that I even looked at it on Goodreads. When I read the description, I still wasn’t sold, a cyborg Cinderella story set in Beijing sounded strange to me. That and I’m not really into Cinderella retellings. However, as I browsed reviews I started to change to my mind. People were raving about it and then I suddenly started to think, “Hmm, a cyborg Cinderella story set in Beijing could actually be interesting and out of the box. Why am I being so narrow minded?”
Then I saw that it was available on audiobook and my finger started moving closer to the Purchase button. Ever since I’ve signed up for the YA Audiobook Challenge, I’ve been eager to start marking off books. That settled it. Cinder went from no where near my To Read listen to my Currently Reading list in 2.5 seconds. And let me tell you, I was pleasantly surprised and so happy that I pushed aside my hesitation to read/listen to a cyborg Cinderella story.
Set in a dystopian future in what is now called New Beijing, Cinder stars a teenage cyborg girl who has it very much like Cinderella. Cinder lives with her stepmother and step sisters who pretty much loathe her and blame her for everything, with the exception of her stepsister and friend Peony. She is a skilled mechanic and her talents are put to use by running an electronics repair shop and fixing whatever her stepmother wants fixed. The stepmother and stepsisters only focus is preparing themselves for the ball held by the handsome young Prince Kai of New Beijing.
There are occasional direct Cinderella references such as an old car that resembles a pumpkin, a cyborg foot that takes the place of a glass slipper, and a cute android that replaces friendly rodents that sing and dance and help Cinderella get ready for the ball. But the originality of these references is sweet and they bring a smile to your lips when you come across them. However, if you are hoping for a fairy godmother, you won’t find one in this version. And things don’t end fairytale perfect like they do for Cinderella.
The story line probably sounds pretty familiar to you and much of the plot keeps to the original story. Despite the similarities, there are many things that set this book apart from the original. The cyborg aspect, for one, adds a whole new dimension to Cinder’s character. At a young age, she was in a horrible accident leaving a majority of her body in disrepair. To keep her alive, Cinder was turned in a Cyborg. Although cyberization saved her live, she has new problems to face. Cyborgs are considered less than human and are often shunned by others. To maintain her body she must buy expensive parts, which upsets her stepmother.
In spite of being a cyborg, Cinder is a relatable heroine. She is kind, smart, unselfish, brave, yet makes typical teenage mistakes that only further diminish her not so wonderful life situation. You will find yourself rooting for her from beginning to end.
There is a cute semi-romantic relationship between Cinder and Prince Kai and one of the things I appreciated about their relationship is that it has time to develop. Kai’s character is very likeable. He is a noble Prince who has been forced to grow up fast but he takes his role in stride and is dedicated to helping his people. He has the weight of the world on his shoulders as he searches for the cure to a world wide plague, tries to alleviate tension between Earth and the Lunar.
I am eagerly awaiting the next book in the series. When this book was over, I literally cried out in frustration. I was not ready for it to be over and I wanted it to keep going. That’s a sign of a good book. Meyer sets up the end nicely for the next book and I can’t wait to find out with Cinder will do. I highly recommend this book to people of all ages. It’s a great read/listen.
At first, I didn’t particularly like Grave Mercy. It rubbed me the wrong way for some reason that I can’t put my finger on exactly. Maybe it was because I didn’t like the main character, Ismae, in the beginning. She irritated me. However, just before I reached the half way point, I become enthralled in the story. There’s a little mystery mixed in that holds your attention and keeps you guessing. I began to care for the characters and longed, as they did, for a good resolution. When the book was over, there was a little pang in my heart and I realized that I really enjoyed Grave Mercy after all.
Ismae is an assassin trained by the sisters of the convent of St. Mortain, known also as the God of Death. She is skilled in poisons, fighting, and weapons but could use some improvement in courting. After proving herself a worthy and loyal assassin, she is sent on assignment to protect the Duchess of Brittany while pretending to be the girlfriend of Duval, the Duchess’ half-brother. The convent believes Duval is deceiving the Duchess and they have arranged for Ismae to monitor him while fulfilling her other mission. Her assignment is complicated by the etiquette and procedures of the high court not to mention the deceit and treachery that takes place within it’s walls. On top that, Ismae develops unexpected feelings for Duval that conflict with the convents orders. Who is she to follow, her trusted sisters of St. Mortain or her heart?
As I said earlier, the beginning of the book didn’t appeal to me so much. There was a lot of emphasis on death and at times felt like the characters worshiped it. I like assassin tales, but this was too much to me. Then the story picked up and I could see the author spinning in a moral that redeemed the earlier focus on death. Ismae began to second guess killing others and started wondering if forgiveness was an option instead of death. This scored points with me as I don’t like heartless killers. When Ismae reaches this revelation, she turns into a new character who is even more formidable than before.
Additionally, Grave Mercy is more than just an assassin novel. It is also an historical fiction novel with a touch of romance. The historal fiction part was truly interesting and is actually what made me perk up and start really paying attention to the story. Also, the author doesn’t hit you over the head with a lovey-dovey romance. Instead, the Ismae and Duval grow independently while working together to protect the Duchess. Slowly their romance unfolds and when it comes to fruition, it’s sweet and heart warming. It’s just right for the story too.
Despite being skeptical at first, I ended up really liking Grave Mercy. It’s a well crafted story and I have plans to read the next one as soon as it comes out. I recommend it and encourage others to push past the beginning even if gives them trouble.
Pandemonium had a completely different feel than Delirium, the first book in the series. The story, all told from Lena’s perspective, alternates between different times. This was a little jarring to me in the beginning but I eventually got the hang of it. That aside, I loved it. Couldn’t put it down. Ate it up with a spoon. It Leaves you on a total cliffhanger too. The kind that makes you scream, “WHY DO I HAVE TO WAIT ANOTHER YEAR FOR THE NEXT ONE?! AHH!” So. Good.
Contrary to Delirium, Lena is a little more rough around the edges in Pandemonium. After escaping from the police in Delirium, she is now on the run and fighting for her survival in the ‘wilds,’ as it’s called in the series. On top of that, she is recovering from the abrupt separation from Alex, the boy she loved so much that she ran away from everything she knew. She meets up with a resistance group living in the wilds. The story switches between Lena finding her way to the group and living with them to a future time when she is a member of the resistance.
Pandemonium is definitely grittier than Delirium. There is way more action and conflict. Alternating from Lena’s past and present kept the pace moving and made the book completely unpredictable. I really had no idea what was going to happen and this made the book difficult to put down. Out of the two books, I still think I liked Delirium more, but Pandemonium is still fantastic. It’s just different than the first.
I will leave this review short and simple because I know readers of Delirium will pick up Pandemonium at break neck speed. I know I did. If you haven’t read Delirium, you should.
Mommy of twins
Tahereh Mafi's writing skills are on full display with the debut of her first book SHATTER ME. Wow, just...wow! What a read and so completely not what I expected (in a good way). This is one of those rare reads that truly catches you off guard. What I was (happily) expecting with this new ya novel?..To be honest...the usual light teen romance with some sort of paranormal twist. What I got was, well...so, so much more. Mafi definitely has a new fan in me.
I didn't want to put SHATTER ME down once I started it and cannot wait for the next installment. I don't really want to go into the plot here and risk spoiling anything but if you're super curious, keep reading for spoiler and a taste of what to expect with this captivating book...
The best way I can think to describe SHATTER ME, is a beautifully written dystopian novel with an x-men(ish) story for the 21st century, full of emotion, danger and adventure!
Truly a fantastic read with an equally fantastic narrator.. And if this initial book is any indication as to what's to come, the Shatter Me Series is one to be reckoned with!