Cinder

In the first of Marissa Meyer's loved Lunar Chronicles, Cinder, we meet sixteen year old cyborg Cinder, working as a mechanic in New Beijing. It is one normal day at the market when her life changes forever. Because that day is the day she meets Crown Prince Kai for the first time. And that day is the day her little sister, Peony, gets the plague for which there is no cure. All of a sudden, Cinder finds herself in the middle of everything. Angry because of Peony’s illness, Cinder’s stepmother volunteer her for the cyborg draft, something the palace has set up to bring in cyborgs’ for testing in search for a cure to the plague. But finding herself immune to the plague is far from the most shocking news Cinder hears in the following days. Everything spins in a high pace around her and she seems to be the only one who doesn’t know what’s really going on. All she ever wanted was to be invisible in a city filled with millions of people. But that doesn’t seem to be an option anymore.

The Lunar Chronicles consists of five books (four of which have been published so far) and a number of short stories. Cinder is what takes us to New Beijing for the very first time, where we meet everything from cyborgs, androids, a crazy Lunar queen and young prince who only want what’s best for his country. Meyer has done a retelling of the popular fairytale Cinderella and combined it with Sailor Moon to achieve what I call only call greatness. It’s a fun and witty story with a lot of serious aspects and it’s a wonderful kick-off to a series of fairytale retellings surrounding the world Cinder lives in. This is a book that has been read and loved all over the world and I am certain it will continue to be adored for some time. A very good novel with lots of promises. 

Under the Never Sky

There are some novels whose reputation outruns them. Who everyone has heard of. That are somewhat famous in their own genre and that everyone seem to love. One of these books are Veronica Rossi’s Under the Never Sky. I’ve heard so much about it, for years now, and so my expectations was high, naturally. They were, unfortunately, not reached.

This is a story set out in the future and we get to follow the two main characters, Aria and Perry. Aria lives in Reverie, in a protected pod where she spends all her days in the Realms. Perry is an Outsider who battles the woods, other tribes and, foremost, the Aether. Their paths shouldn’t cross but do anyway when Aria, in search for answers about her mother, enters a damage part of the pod with some friends. Perry, in search of food for his tribe, enters the same part of the pod at the same time. He sees the horrific things that happens there that night, the same things that later on gets Aria thrown out from Reverie, to die on the outside. Out there she, yet again, stumbles across Perry and together they make an unlikely alliance. They will help each other reach two different goals, but the road is long and crooked and they meet many hoops and problems along the way, all the while growing closer to each other.

My hopes for this one was high, higher then I really want to admit. After hearing so much I expected something of a masterpiece, really, something like The Hunger Games and Divergent. Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to either one. It wasn’t particularly bad, it just wasn’t good enough. Over the years, the genre of dystopian YA has grown a lot and to be able to stand out there now you need to be better than good. You need to be amazing, splendid, radiant. Under the Never Sky was okay in ever aspect, but, like I said, that’s not enough.

The writing was good, nothing extraordinary. Some parts of the novel made me want to read more and some parts didn’t entice me to read at all. There were days when I didn’t read as much as a sentence just because I couldn’t find the energy to pick up the book. The story in itself was certainly interesting, but it wasn’t much more than 370 pages and for a novel of that size there were surprisingly much “dead weight” so to speak. Aria and Perry need to travel a bit and the only way they can do that is on foot, so a large part of the novel was really about walking day in and day out and usually alone. It’s an important part of the story, not just because that’s they’re only way of transportation, but also because Aria sees and learns a lot of new things and, first and foremost, because she and Perry grow closer. But after a few days, eating, walking, sleeping and talking/not talking becomes a little dull.

The entire novel really only focuses on two people – Aria and Perry. Everything is centered around them and, honestly, that is a bit dull as well. The story is told from both perspective, in third person, which gives you a bigger picture, knowing how both feel and what they think. I believe that if there had been a few more characters involved in a bigger part of the book it had been a better read with a bigger view of their world. (They do met people, I just want to be clear about that. They’re not alone all the time Though it might feel like that). Perry’s friend, Roar, makes an appearance and turns into something quite important, but just like the rest of the book, he feels empty. Like Rossi missed something when she wrote the story. Some important part, a spark, both in the characters and in the story. Something that made it go from … to !!! if you can explain it like that. Under the Never Sky neither touched nor moved me, it was, simply put, just good.

One thing that bothered me a bit was the name of the characters. That’s one thing that is very important to me and here they felt… well, empty. Maybe, if the characters had been stronger, the names wouldn’t have bothered me. But they did. Most of them were short, four or five letters. Some were beautiful, but most were dull. Like Roar, for example. I expected his personality to have something to do with his name, but I didn’t really pick up on that while reading. That was a bit of a disappointment, but maybe there will be more about names and their meanings in the following two books.

I don’t know if I’ve read too many books in this genre but this one just didn’t make the cut. I’ve read many other that are a lot better than this one and it saddens me since I had such high hopes for it. I don’t know if I will read the rest of the trilogy, maybe curiosity and hope that the next two are better will drive me to do it, but right now I can think of other books more deserving of my time.

Blue lily, lily blue

Since I picked up The Raven Boys not even half a year ago, Maggie Stiefvater has had me spellbound in her unique story about witches and sleeping kings and orange Camaro’s. And now, with the third installment, Blue lily, lily blue, I’m more in love than ever before.

With time running out, closer and closer to the death of Richard Gansey the III, Blue and the raven boys search deeper (in all aspects) for the long-lost Glendower and Blue’s mother, Maura. They get on a new trail, hearing about three sleepers, of which one the friends are to awaken and one that Maura shouldn’t wake. But who is the third one and where do you find three sleeping people? And how could anyone be asleep for six hundred years and still be alive? And how close are they of finding Glendower, really? These are the questions the raven boys and Blue are asking themselves in the third installment of The Raven Cycle.

I’ve only read these three books of Maggie Stiefvater, though I know she’s written quite a few more. I do know, however, that she is special and this book series is like nothing I’ve ever read before. We have five very strong characters in Blue, Gansey, Adam, Ronan and Noah. Another three in Blue’s home; Maura, Calla and Persephone. And of course, The Gray man. They are holding up the story, everyone so different and so interesting. They’re all specific in their own way and part of me likes the character and what they bring to the table more than I like the actual story. There’s such big diversity between them and they’re all battling their own wars which shapes them into the people they are today. It’s difficult to create character that feels real, but Stiefvater’s does and that’s one of the things that makes this series so successful. The character growth in Blue lily, lily blue was immense and they’re all starting to shape up to something I like very much. I love seeing how they grow, and the story with them.

Another thing that turns the story from good to great it the language. The prose is lovely, flowy and poetic. There’s a lot of sarcasm that will make you laugh, and snort, and a lot of beautiful sentences that begs to be reread and remembered. It is, in ever aspect, a wonderful spectacle of a series to read!

From cover to cover (and how beautiful aren’t the Raven Cycle covers?) the stories are a jumble of crazy things that shouldn’t fit together, but they do! Five teenagers looking for a sleeping king sounds more than odd but it all works out in the end. It’s fun and something of a circus, but certain parts are very serious. Blue’s feminism is one important aspect, Adam’s abuse from his father is another. Both of them are surrounded by people who have a lot of money and can do whatever they want but they themselves lack it and have to work hard for every little thing. I feel that these things are just as important as the rest, because it isn’t a story about five made-up people who gets everything served on a platter. They work for it and they work hard and hopefully they’re an example to the readers. I know they inspire me to search for something better, something more, for everything I deserve. And that’s a very important thing too.

I could sit here for the rest of the night and praise Stiefvater and her fantastic story, which just seems to get better and better for each book I read, but I’ll leave you with this. Blue lily, lily blue, and indeed the entire Raven Cycle, is a story which is so completely different from anything I’ve ever read before that I can’t find one other story similar to it. It is unique. I am so glad I gave it a chance and I hope you do to. You won’t regret it, I promise. There is something in this story for everyone, whoever you are and whatever you like. It’s with a heavy heart that I look forward to September and the release of the last installment in The Raven Cycle – The Raven King.