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.
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.
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.