NAMELESS

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SUMMARY:

Four clans have been at war for centuries: the Kodiak, the Raven, the Wolf and the Ram. Through brutal war tactics, the Ram have dominated the region, inflicting death and destruction on their neighbors.

Seventeen-year-old Zo is a Wolf and a Healer who volunteers to infiltrate the Ram as a spy on behalf of the allied clans. She offers herself as a Ram slave, joining the people who are called the “nameless.” Hers is a suicide mission – Zo’s despair after losing her parents in a Ram raid has left her seeking both revenge and an end to her own misery. But after her younger sister follows her into Rams Gate, Zo must find a way to survive her dangerous mission and keep her sister safe.

What she doesn’t expect to find is the friendship of a young Ram whose life she saves, the confusing feelings she develops for a Ram soldier, and an underground nameless insurrection. Zo learns that revenge, loyalty and love are more complicated than she ever imagined in the first installment of this two-book series.

THOUGHTS:

PLOT: I don’t have a lot to say about this book. I think I went into it with too high expectations from the rave reviews I had seen before the release date. I don’t know what changed between the ARC and the finished copy, but I didn’t see the kind of excellence I wanted to. The idea, in and of itself, is great. It’s a different take on a sort of cult life, futuristic fantasy faction land, and I loved the originality of the idea. The execution, however, felt like too much of the author trying to make elements of other popular YA books fit into her novel. The Prim (Hunger Games) little sister in danger situation? Check. The factions that all excel in one field or another, a la Divergent? Check. A love triange? Check. (But, to be fair, it wasn’t much of one). It saddened me that the execution fell so flat for me, and I wish that even the pacing had been better. There was a lot of talking, talking, talking, each character thinking, feeling guilty, feeling torn, and then all at once a flurry of action that made sense, but with no buildup or anticipation. The cliffhanger at the end was good, although abrupt, and I’ll probably at least skim the next book, since it’s only a duology.

CHARACTERS: Eh…I don’t want to talk about them. Honestly, it’s been a week since I finished this book, and I don’t even remember them. The girl was Zo, someone whose name started with a G….Gryphon? I don’t have the book, and now I can’t check. I think it was Gryphon. Anyway, they all did a lot of thinking- mostly about how betrayed everyone would be if they knew the truth. It was all so roundabout, and it got tiresome quickly, especially with so much potential for other things. I don’t think I can really say anything more about the characters- just that they were all intending to do something selfless, and ended up only seeming self-absorbed.

WHAT TO WATCH

This one was pretty clean, with only a few references to sex- one of the gate guards is particularly disgusting, and takes what he wants from many of the girls in the community, and intends to do so with Zo as well as her younger sister, but (SPOILER) nothing happens. That’s all.

OVERALL: I’d give this one two and a half stars, maybe. It was only okay in some parts, but there were a few occasions that I really enjoyed it. So of course, these are all subjective opinions, and I’d love to hear yours if you’ve read it!

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CINDER

Magic. Ghosts. Sex. Demons. Everything you don’t want in your reading material. It’s so hard to find good books in this day and age, ones that don’t bother your conscience because of the contents. This blog is to help you find good, clean books that don’t totally twist what’s wrong into something that’s right- but they aren’t books for little kids. I promise, there are teen books that fit this criteria. You just have to look hard. 

Let’s begin.

CINDER cover

Rating: PG-13, for descriptions of the plague, some romantic themes, and some violence (but not much)

Cinder is exactly what I always wanted- an action-packed, uniquely told spin on a classic tale- one that makes an old fairy tale even better. It’s the first book of the Lunar Chronicles (the other two will be covered later, as well as the 4th book when it is released in 2015) and the entire series is devoted to merging and putting new, sci-fi twists (without magic) to classic fairy tales, including Cinderella (Cinder), Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf (Scarlet, book 2), Rapunzel (Cress, book 3), and Snow White (Winter, book 4).

The official summary:
Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

My Thoughts:

Yes, it is as good as it sounds. What I love about this book is that it takes a beloved classic story that I can’t enjoy because of magical elements (Fairy godmothers, magic pumpkin carriages, etc.) and turns it into a story that seems tailor-made for us to enjoy, no magic necessary. And even though there is a little bit of romance (enough to fulfill my girly side) at no point does it overtake the main plot, or even the series. There’s no explicit sex scenes, or even non-explicit ones, not even a mention of it, because, for once, the relationship is not the focus of the story! And Cinder stays a true heroine- she doesn’t become some crying wretch who needs Kai to save her all the time, she doesn’t start relying on people to do everything she needs, and she does what she needs to do to save her friends, despite humiliation and hurt and a lot of misunderstandings. It’s action-packed, but no gory scenes make you want to poke your imagination out with a spork. The only thing that might do that is the description of the plague quarantine area, where Cinder ends up going for reasons I will not disclose (no spoilers here!) And don’t let me forget the Lunar people- they have a special power that has come from centuries of moon inhabitance, called a glamour, that alters people’s perception of them, and their own empire that the Queen, Levana, is trying to expand to Earth. But she’s bad news, and Cinder has to find a way to keep Kai from having to marry her for an alliance- which will surely end in his death, because she’s ruthless. And Cinder is just the beginning. Scarlet and Cress are even better, entwining fairy tales and loveable characters without a hitch, using the old classics (we’re talking Hans Christian Andersen-type here, not so much Disney) to weave a new tale of intrigue, betrayal, and courage that you won’t soon forget.

My personal rating for Cinder: Four stars. I love it, but I prefer the main characters from Scarlet and Cress (even though Cinder and Kai are all in the rest of the books, of course) over the ones that predominate in Cinder.

Questions? Comments? Suggestions on books I should review? Leave a comment below and I’ll get to your book as soon as I can.