Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and (in 2015) Winter.
There’s a lot to love about this series:
1) Cinder was born of NaNoWriMo (the greatest thing ever for those of you who don’t know about it) and, to my understanding, much of the rest of the books were drafted in November as well. I have a special place in my heart for NaNo books.
2) While having a core plot throughout, each book focuses on one Bad-A** lady from a fairy tale. The plot line of her story more-or-less follows the trajectory of the classic tale while holding true to the core, original, plot. Those are some mad skillz.
3) That original plot I mentioned? It’s creative and interesting and complex without being confusing.
4) The dudes are adorable.
There’s more, but I thing those are really the main highlights. Yes, it’s YA, and as I’m not a YA myself any longer, there is many times where I can’t stop an eye-roll at some of the young thoughts and emotions that come flying off the page. The key is to let yourself go. Immerse yourself into what’s happening and you’ll have a great time.
Cinder is spunky, unique, and manages to stay in line with the traditional ideas of Cinderella – the evil step-mother, the step-sisters, and, of course, that dashing, heart-throbbing prince. What isn’t traditional is that our heroine is a messy mechanic cyborg. Sha-zam.
Admittedly, because of how well we know the classic fairy tale, it is a bit predictable, but the character development keeps any dull feelings at bay. Meyer does such a good job of creating each character as an individual. Every character is dynamic – I particularly found the evil step-mother and the Doctor very well designed. There isn’t just one static “this person is good/bad” feel to it. How is it that, of all the characters, I love the android Iko the best? That’s good writing.
Oh yeah, and did you know it takes place in future China-ish? Awesome! It’s the little nuances that really make this first book shine.
Where Cinder was an awkward yet confident, down-trodden yet finding herself, kind of main character, Scarlet takes it all up a notch. This girl kicks butt left and right and doesn’t break a sweat. She’s sassy and sweet. Scarlet forms as a great second heroine while somehow not taking the sparkle off Cinder’s own adventures.
Of the three books out right now though, it is my least favorite. It’s a good gateway to the next but it’s also the least believable. This might get a touch spoiler-y but I had two main issues throughout – the sudden deep but really quite unnerving attraction with Wolf, and Scarlet’s dedication to the grandmother.
Let me explain. It’s not that I don’t think both of those things aren’t good and important for the book – they are – but the way things shook out were over the top. I know Wolf is loyal (like a dog, get it, lolz) but the way he constantly threw himself in front of Scarlet got old (mostly because Scarlet is totally able take care of herself). And – and this will sound calloused – Scarlet’s insistence to sacrifice herself for her grandmother became exasperating. No offense to my grandmother, but I think 99% of reasonable people would realize that a young, vibrant woman shouldn’t risk everything for an already dying old lady. Just saying. I know we needed that for forward motion but it was insane.
Even with my few irks, Meyer was really able to make the additional characters shine – and be different – from the ones in the previous book. Our cast is growing without any harm, and that’s wonderful.
I almost forgot – Thorne. He is hysterical. Total favorite. He is this year’s Han Solo.
Now, we have Cress. She’s the perfect next main character because she’s wonderfully different. Don’t get me wrong – she’s still a bad-a** with her seriously impressive hacking skills but she’s not going to beat anyone up. In fact, she’s much more apt to hide in a corner, but that doesn’t mean shes’ a damsel in distress, either. Meyer has made such a great balance of showing how her ladies need help sometimes, but that doesn’t make them weak.
A lot of things go down in Cress and they are all interesting. One thing, after reviewing Game of Thrones, is that I do wish I could have believed a little bit more that bad things were actually going to happen. Sure there are cliffhangers and worries and the like but it was hard to ignore the fact that it is a YA book and, despite the dire circumstances, things were obviously going to work themselves out.
So, I maybe didn’t worry as much as I should have, but I still liked what I saw. Emotions get deep in Cress – there’s insanity, near-fatal and irreparable wounds, deserts, disease, death, maiming, kidnapping, genocide, and the list goes on. I don’t mean to say it’s depressing through. How can it be when a character like Thorne is on so many pages? He’s adorable and he and Cress are a fantastic duo. Even more, when we do get back to the rest of the group, they still hold true to their own character traits.
Well, except for maybe Wolf. You know, for being a “big, bad, wolf” he is a sally. Seriously. Whimper a little more, why don’t you? Suck it up and get the job done, bro.
*Cough* Anyway, as I was saying, like the rest, the story follows the trajectory of a fairy tale, this time Rapunzel. The core plot is at the forefront and it’s intense. Cress is set up beautifully for another book and I’m definitely ready for it.
All in all – a slow clap, high five, jig, and kudos to Marissa Meyer!