It’s been a while now since my last media review, so that makes it high time I talk about something I’ve consumed and enjoyed recently!
At least half of what I’ve been reading in the last year is in large part thanks to a particular Twitter friend who loves to recommend books (you know who you are, Twitter-twin!), and so far she hasn’t steered me wrong once! This particular series is one of her recommendations.
Three books have been released into the wild, with a fourth and a prequel of sorts coming out next year. I’ve read all three so far, and STILL can’t believe I have to wait over a year before reading Winter, the fourth book. At least Fairest, the prequel, is being published in just a few months. That might help with the wait; although it might just make it more unbearable by teasing me with a visit to this sci-fi fairytale world without actually finishing the story I’ve fallen in love with.
Oh yes, did I mention that the series is retelling classic fairytales by setting them in a futuristic Earth with all the sci-fi trappings and story-lines?
Marissa Meyer has been bold and inventive in her fearless mixing of genres, displaying all the talents and achieving all the goals of a good Storyteller by breathing new life into timeless tales, weaving themes and elements as familiar as childhood while still pulling off unexpected, unpredictable plot twists, and overall giving us a series of admirably good young adult sci-fi novels in their own right.
The first novel, Cinder, takes the familiar character and reinvents her as a cyborg teenage mechanic indentured to a stepmother who treats her like the property she legally is, set in the plague-ridden Commonwealth capital of New Bangkok on future Earth. There’s the expected elements of the Prince and his ball, but there’s also a temperamental Lunar Queen trying to force Prince Kai to marry her, and there’s Cinder’s quirky side-kick robot Iko, and there’s the mysterious royal doctor seemingly trying to find a cure to the plague, and, well, you get the idea. There’s a lot more story than just a retelling of Cinderella.
But the elements of the fairytale are incorporated and twisted around, so the glass slipper becomes a cybernetic foot, and it makes sense. The fairytale never feels forced into the sci-fi, and the sci-fi never feels cheapened by the fairytale. They build on one another, never feeling like just another gimmick to catch the interest of geeks like you and me. It feels genuine and brilliant. It feels like good writing.
The next book, Scarlet, is of course Little Red Riding Hood, and the third book, Cress, is Rapunzel (as if you couldn’t tell from that braid on the cover!). Both are equally deft at blending the story with the fairytale with the sci-fi, and all three books also show equal skill at weaving together seamless transition from humor to drama to thriller to mystery to romance and back, as we follow the characters and plot through their adventures.
I won’t go into details to avoid any spoilers, but I will say that the story gets better and better as the scope of events broadens with each books, and each new character brought into the story adds to the richness. It’s a diverse cast, and they are all so unique and well-written. Each feels like their own person, and it’s easy to fall in love with your favorites. They’re the sort of characters that stick with you long after the book is closed, slipping into your thoughts and heart until the next re-read feels like meeting up with old friends.
There’s a lot of things I’m looking forward to next year, and the release of Fairest and Winter are high on that list.
Let me know what you thought of these books — or that you haven’t read them yet but now absolutely must because of my glowing review — in the comments!