Cinder: Get ready to see the story of Cinderella like you’ve never seen it before (My thoughts on book #1 of The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer)
Let me start off this review by saying that much like Veronica Roth’s Divergent, Cinder is a book that I’ve wanted to read for a very long time. Thankfully, it didn’t completely disappoint me like Divergent did. I’d even say that Cinder actually exceeded my expectations. That being said, I’m pretty sure that I wasn’t aware of the fact that Cinder is the first book in a series called The Lunar Chronicles until very recently when I saw reviews for the third book in the series, Cress, and a review for the fifth and final book in the series, Winter, on one of my favorite book review channels on YouTube, Bookables. With that said, here are my thoughts on Cinder.
One of the reasons why I’ve always wanted to read Cinder is because I’ve always been a huge fan of retellings or “reimaginings” of fairy tales. I love the movie Hoodwinked, but admittedly I still need to see Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil. I’m also a huge fan of the TV shows Once Upon a Time and Grimm. Much like those examples of fairytale retellings, Cinder is an awesome new take on the story of Cinderella. Another reason why I love this book so much is because I’m also a fan of science fiction books, TV shows, and movies. This story definitely contains some elements of science fiction given the fact that the character Cinder is a cyborg and people apparently live on the moon in the Lunar Chronicles world.
Linh Cinder, who’s usually simply referred to as “Cinder” in the book, is a very fun and likable character. I love how she really has a tendency to be sarcastic. At the same time, she’s definitely a character that has a lot of heart and compassion for others, despite the fact that her stepmother, Linh Adri, and her stepsister, Linh Pearl, are both quite mean to her. Cinder clearly cares a lot about her other stepsister, Linh Peony, who was also a great character. I was definitely very sad about the fact that Peony died after she contracted the letumosis plague.
The interaction between Cinder and Dr. Erland as they worked together throughout the book to try and find a cure for the letumosis plague was a lot of fun to read, and one of my favorite aspects of the book. I’m really hoping that Dr. Erland will be featured in the other books in The Lunar Chronicles series in some capacity. The fact that the citizens of New Bejing were dealing with the threat of a plague definitely added a really interesting element to the story and created some very compelling drama in the story as well, with Peony and Prince Kai’s father, Emperor Rikan, sadly both dying from the plague.
Entwined with You: Oh, for the love of God! Do Eva and Gideon ever stop having sex? (My thoughts on Book #3 in the Crossfire book series by Sylvia Day)
Let me start off by saying that I really went back and forth on trying to decide when I would read and review Sylvia Day’s Entwined with You since it was a book that I was very interested in reviewing given the fact that I had already reviewed Bared to You and Reflected in You, I really enjoyed them, and my reviews for both of those books have gotten a lot of page views. Plus, it has been somewhat of a goal of mine to review both this book and the fourth book in the Crossfire series, Captivated by You, by the time the fifth and final book in the series, One with You, is released on April 5th. That’s definitely going to be coming up before we know it, so I decided to go ahead and listen to the audiobook version of Entwined with You this past weekend; that being said, here are my thoughts on the book.
Right off the bat, I have to say that while my feelings about Reflected in You were definitely mixed, my feelings regarding Entwined with You are very, very, very mixed. One of the things that bothered me the most about Reflected in You is the fact that there was so much drama and angst going on between Eva and Gideon in that book, and the story itself was rather lacking when it came to there being truly happy and romantic moments between them, which really made me question whether or not I should actually be rooting for Eva and Gideon’s relationship to work out. Fortunately, I feel like Sylvia Day did a somewhat better job of including, or least trying to include, enough moments between Eva and Gideon in Entwined with You that showed me why I should root for them as a couple.
While I do think that Sylvia Day does a better job of showing why the reader should be rooting for Eva and Gideon in this book, reading this book makes me think that Day’s idea of including lots of happy moments between Eva and Gideon in the books is to have them have lots and lots and lots of sex with each other, all the time. Reading this book made me feel like when Day was writing this book, she must have thought about the expression “sex sells”, and decided to cram as many sex scenes into this book as she possibly could, and just went completely super duper ultra mega overboard with how much sex is featured in this book. I get that the Crossfire series is considered erotica, but I still think there needs to be an actual plot and some subplots as well in erotic novels. Sure, there were definitely quite a few sex scenes in Bared to You and Reflected in You, but there were still plenty of clearly defined plots and subplots in those books.
When it comes to Entwined with You, I feel like there are so many sex scenes in this book that it kind of feels like the concept of having a clearly defined plot for the book was sacrificed as a result of there being so much sex in this book. I’m kind of tempted to make jokes about how trying to describe the overall plot of this book is a lot like looking for a needle in a haystack, but I think that would be a bit of an exaggeration. If I had to say what the plot of this book is about, I’d say that this book mainly focuses on Eva and Gideon trying to move past what happened in Reflected in You, with Gideon killing Nathan so he wouldn’t be able to hurt Eva again. However, their entire plan for how they would gradually publicly get back together seemed awfully convoluted to me.
Divergent: I finally read this book, but did it live up to my expectations? Well… (My thoughts on book #1 in the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth)
Let me start off by saying that the Divergent book series is a book series that I’ve really wanted to read and was really excited about for quite a while. I went into reading Divergent full of excitement and anticipation. Unfortunately, I ended up being very disappointed by this book.
One of the biggest problems that this book suffers from is a serious lack of world building. As I was reading this book, I kept waiting and hoping for Roth to provide some backstory for what happened that prompted their society to develop the social structure that they have with the five different factions: Abnegation (The Selfless), Dauntless (The Brave), Erudite (The Intelligent), Amity (The Peaceful), and Candor (The Honest). Also, how was it decided what the core values of each faction would be? There are some vague comments throughout the book about a war that happened at some point in the past, but it’s never fully explored or explained.
As I said in my reviews for Abigail Barnette’s books First Time (Ian’s Story) and First Time (Penny’s Story), it really bothered me that Barnette didn’t really provide a truly good explanation for why Penny had been waiting to lose her virginity in “Ian’s Story”. The explanation for that part of Penny’s backstory that was given in “Penny’s Story” ended up being very stupid and rather vague, which led to it also being incredibly frustrating and disappointing. I mention that only because much like the lack of a good backstory and explanation for something that played a huge role in the story hurt both versions of First Time, the lack of world building, backstory and depth behind each of the five factions really hurts Divergent as a whole.
Unfortunately for Divergent, the writing suffers a lot more due to its lack of backstory and world building since the book’s biggest flaws have to do with the key aspects of the story rather than being things that would be easier to forgive when it comes to any weaknesses that a story may have. Personally, I think the existence of good world building and thoroughly establishing backstory is especially important in books involving elements of fantasy or societies that are very different from the society we live in today. If an author neglects to give their characters and the plot a good and well written backstory, then the book really faces an uphill battle when it comes to being able to impress and entertain people, in my opinion.