6 Reasons Avatar the Last Airbender (cartoon) makes me sound like I have the girl version of Peter Pan syndrome

Soooo, it’s a kid’s cartoon. But once you’re over that your socks will be rocked right off! For many years, I felt no compulsion to watch the cartoon because the movie was a horrible cringe-fest of weird child acting (not to mention a distinct lack of asians playing the main roles…I guess Eng-rish wasn’t acceptable). But, the movie version is totally in a different league of crap so don’t be like me and let that influence your decision to experience the cartoon!

I only started watching the cartoon by chance while I was waiting for friends to come over to watch Attack on Titan (an anime which disturbs me to no end). I was charmed by episode 1. The world is cozy and refreshingly different from anything I’ve seen in a while. I knew I had to add Avatar: The Last Airbender to my collection of neat fantasy worlds to indulge in. I’m really late on the bandwagon but here are 6 reasons why you should try sampling some asian flavor with Avatar the Last Airbender:

1) It’s got a simple, classic but at the same time totally unique and intuitive elemental-based magic system that is activated by kung fu!

avatar kung fuI’ve watched my fair share of kung fu movies as a kid. I think it was kind of a 1990s thing. Anyway – I miss how cool it looks! One of the creators – Bryan Konietzko – studies shaolin kung fu himself and so the Avatar team goes above and beyond to get the moves down right so that everything looks rather authentic. The show highlights four different styles of kung fu to match the four different elements and their accompanying personalities so that everything feels really intuitive. The martial arts associated with air is full of very playful-looking moves, water martial arts is full of fluid tai-chi-like movements, earth is full of foot-stomping, vein-popping movements and the martial arts associated with fire is like a crazy passionate dance, full of quick high energy moves. I was very impressed with this level of in-depth thinking for the construction of the magic system. It totally does not look lame! (except when it’s in live-action) In addition to cool kung fu moves, there is a certain logic to their elemental based magic that fits in with the theme that the various elements have differnet aspects to them. For example, with fire-bending, you can, of course, create giant fire-balls etc. but you can also focus your fire-bending energy to zap someone with lightning. With water-bending, you can whip someone with the force of water, but you can also control plants and humans which have water (blood) flowing in their veins. With earth bending, you can move huge swathes of earth around but you can also bend metals. Very well thought-out and satisfying for a world-building enthusiast like me!

2) It feels like it captures the essence of many ancient Eastern philosophies

And I’m not saying that just because the show features a little bald monk at its main character. And don’t get me wrong – there are plenty of old geysers spouting cryptic words of wisdom to the young’uns. Overall, however, everything somehow manages to avoid feeling awkward and pretentious. The lines are delivered with a healthy teacupful of tongue-in-cheek humor that manages to retain a certain tone of reverence. Ideas such as the balance of opposing natures, the understanding of the universe as interconnected, the idea that all life must be respected and nothing is purely evil or one-sided – so many aspects of Eastern philosophies such as Buddhism and Hinduism are included in a very natural way. As to whether or not any of the depictions are accurate – I have no idea as I’m not familiar with many of them. At the very least, The Last Airbender can stand alone as a satisfyingly wholesome depiction of an eastern inspired world.

3) You’ll want an animal hybrid plush toy after watching the Last Airbender

There are all sorts of animal hybrids in Avatar. Except human-based ones, of course. That might generate hybrids too creepy for Nickelodeon. From the first episodes, I was already wishing I could frolick with Appa, the vegetarian sky bison that looks like its been crossed with some sort of six-legged insect. When Momo, the chittering bat lemur appeared on screen, it was instalove! The creators really had fun with this aspect of world-building. Their idea is really simple and maybe even nothing unique since it is sort of intuitive to come up with scrambled up animals when you’re creating creatures to fill your world. In any case, the world and story are further enhanced by the cuteness of these animal hybrids. There are even entire episodes dedicated to following their solo adventures (I’m thinking of that vignette episode, “The tales of Ba Sing Se“, involving Momo trying to find Appa as well as the Appa episode right after in Book 2). I especially like the idea that humans learned about bending the elements from studying some of these animal-hybrids.

4) Creative and distinct soundtracks that can lullaby you to sleep or get you on the edge of your seat

Oftentimes movies and TV shows can be obnoxious simply because the music is loud, loud and really unoriginal as well as loud. I feel old complaining about noise levels but we get blasted by enough loud ads and loud-mouthed over-excited people in media everyday, I think we can try toning down the music or at least make each note mean something again. I appreciate the more meditative and subtle use of music and sound in the Last Airbender. Here, the Track team experimented with weird and unusual instruments such as zithers, pipas, duduks, tsungi horns, taiko drums and more to create a whimsical and melancholy sound that is at times soothing at times rousing to resonate with the themes explored in the story. I really love the use of the kalimba, especially in one of the main Avatar theme songs. The song that twanged its way into my heart the most is “Leaves from the vine” where Zuko’s Uncle Iroh sings a song while thinking of his son who died in the war.

5) Character tales that are worth following

zuko and irohI will watch or read stories with horrible plots or illogical settings if I love the characters. Great characterization can steal the show for me anytime. The Last Airbender is very much a character driven story. Everyone from Aang, Sokka, Katara and Toph to Zuko, Azula and Iroh are given time in the spotlight to present their case to the audience and why you should and will like them despite their flaws. The characters question their motivations, their humanity and their destinies and everyone clashes with each other in a very organic and natural way that results in a story driven by believable motivations. In my opinions, humor is the key humanizing factor, here, and the reason why I ended up liking even the most obnoxious and villainous characters. Each character shows their serious and their silly side and you can’t help but be touched by their stories. My favorite character interaction to follow was that of Zuko and his Uncle Iroh. Angry, frustrated, obsessive and angsty Zuko is perfectly foiled by his wise-cracking, laid-back, tea-loving and forgiving Uncle Iroh. If it weren’t for Uncle Iroh telling Zuko to cool-it, I would have found Zuko’s seemingly infinite rage unbearable.

6) It actually ends

avatar stateDon’t underestimate the power of a planned ending! You’ve got to respect the creators for resisting the urge to milk their franchise for all it’s worth. Many a TV show enters that dark alley of dirty dealings and artificially prolongs a show so that it ends up a crappy product overall, no matter how well it started. This is also the same reason why I love Buffy the Vampire Slayer. You can trust that Joss Whedon will end the show where it was destined to end. With the Last Airbender, there won’t be any comments like, “Oh, the show is good up until season X but don’t bother watching it after that!” Albeit, the last season of Avatar does move a little fast for my taste but I’m still glad to know that it was planned and wrapped up the story with an epic finale. Avatar is a rather short series compared to other cartoons, spanning three seasons with about twenty 30 minute episodes each. I finished it within a few weeks (but I could have finished it sooner except I didn’t want to rush through it like I did for Buffy and feel sad after it’s over).

Well, there’s my happy rant about Avatar.

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Elantris – a pocket sized epic. Gracious Domi! What a book!

Countless eons ago (in internet time), I won a book from Fyrefly’s book blog: Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. This was my very first book giveaway win – I was so excited! I read it all in one gulp. Recently, I finished The Way of Kings by this same virtuoso of a writer. Again, I stayed up almost every night to get through huge chunks of that behemoth of a book. I almost KO’d myself by the last night. It would have been an epic finale to the reading experience.

No need to worry about trilogies here!

Since Words of Radiance isn’t out in paperback, yet, I’ve had to hold off my cravings. To appease myself, I picked up Elantris, instead. Elantris is Brandon Sanderson’s first published novel and it is a giant of a story in a stand alone book format that sits at around 650 pages/250k words. The premise of the story is that a legendary walled city of the gods – Elantris – has fallen from some unknown cause. Once upon a time, a person could wake up one morning and find themselves transformed into one of the Elantrian gods, equipped with powers to draw magical symbols in the air – Aons – to perform miraculous feats. Now, a person could wake up one morning to find themself transformed into a diseased-looking, hairless creature whose heart has stopped beating. Elantris has become a dumping ground for these unfortunates. Droves of them wander the streets where once the gods roamed. There are many edge-of-your-seat subplots but the crux of the story centers around figuring out what has stymied Elantris’ power and whether it can be returned.

Brandon Sanderson writes very clever plots and this first of his published novels showcases a taste of the greater talent to come. I went in knowing that a Brandon Sanderson book will have obsessive world-building and multi-faceted characters. Elantris ticks off all those items on that checklist. It’s nice to feel like you can rely on an author to deliver the goods. My favorite character pair was Raoden and Galladon because of the way they complement each other. Raoden is a highly optimistic and full-of-ideas kind of guy whereas Galladon is a crusty, skeptical and world-wearied old man. I grinned a whole lot reading those parts of the story. At some point, I spoiled one of the book’s epic reveal moments for myself because I was listening to Writing Excuses and Brandon Sanderson happened to blurt it out. I wasn’t too worried, however, because I knew the guy surely had many more aces up his sleeve. And lo and behold, he did! Have any of you seen The Departed? I watched it one morning before going to my first class and had to pause it with 10 mins left of the movie to go. I figured, nothing much could happen. I was wrong. The same goes for Elantris. It’s gonna be a machine gun ending. Except without any bullets.

If you want to learn how to master first lines in a story, drop by the book store or library and flip open a Brandon Sanderson novel. Here’s the first line of Elantris: “Prince Raoden of Arelon awoke early that morning, completely unaware that he had been damned for all eternity.” Try going home without wondering why Raoden might be damned for all eternity.

Rating: 4.5 bowls of Hraggish weed soup!

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“The third silence was not an easy silence to notice”. The third silence was the paper-cut sound of me injuring myself in my haste to read Kvothe’s story.

Title: The Name of the Wind

Author: Patrick Rothfuss

Genre: Fantasy

Synopsis: Come in, come in out of the wind and rain and rest your feet at the Waystone Inn. There are potables aplenty for all your thirsts, I’m sure. Now, if you want entertainment, well, the innkeeper might provide that – he’s a fine storyteller is our Kote. And a damn fine musician, too, come to think of it. He could sing a secret song out of the hollow moan of the wind if he wanted to, I’ll bet. The man’s got more talents than he can keep secret, it’s a wonder this inn hasn’t taken off as it should. Don’t pester him about it now, though, he’s not in the right mood. Would you be, if you were once a legend and now you’re at best, an innkeeper, at worst, a worn down ghost of the man you used to be? Well now, don’t be down on account of what I just said. If’n you can make him turn his mood gladsome, he’d p’raps tell you about the time he spent with his merry Ruh family, growing up as a trouper child and learning the art of deception and storytelling. Oh, those stories are as good as spiced cider sittin’ warmly in your belly. Or, mebbe you could prod him about all those wretched days spent scrabbling for a living on the scum-ringed waterside of Tarbean. No better place than to learn the real importance of living, I’d say. Did I mention he had enough of a noggin to get his arse into university before even a peep of red bristled his chin? Such a man is our Kvothe – ahem – Kote. Though, I can’t pretend to say he didn’t get himself into licks of trouble in the process. But don’t you just sit around and listen to me ramblin’ why don’t you go over there yerself and ask him nicely-like to let slip a story or two? He does occasionally bite and growl but trust in me that it will be worth it.

Impressions:

Whew, what a tiresome old man! Scoot, go away! I was afraid he’d keep chattering on and reveal the whole story to you before you get a chance to hear it from Kvothe himself!

Kvothe was the real lodestone of the story for me. I don’t often read first person POV of a guy and it was a nice change to tag along with him. I can’t wait to see what Patrick Rothfuss does with this character in The Wise Man’s Fear. A lot of events are alluded to in Day One of Kvothe’s storytelling session that aren’t addressed so be prepared to be patient. Don’t speed through this book. This novel is not meant to be flicked through (though if you read unnaturally fast, I’ll forgive you). Would you like it if someone sped through your autobiography without really digesting all those important events of your life? Or worse, skimmed, through the ‘boring’ parts? My life isn’t boring gawdamnit! Even if I spend a good deal sitting in one spot doing nothing visibly exciting (does periodically turning a page, count as significant action?). Also, you might give yourself a papercut flipping through those crisp pages at such a rate.

I like the time he spent with Ben the best and how we learn what sort of motivations Kvothe has for going to the university. When he goes to the university, I was all ready to bust through those doors and get some answers, so it frustrated me that there were so many denials there. I was also hoping Kvothe would learn more about the different aspects of magic and finally get some answers to some haunting questions. But all the university masters were displaying typical professorial eccentricities that made it impossible to pin down straight answers from them.  Of course, you’ll know if you read the book that it’s against Kvothe’s nature to sit around waiting for answers so I know that he’ll eventually figure things out whether it’s for the worst or not. I’m just ridiculously impatient to bust into that library. Ridiculously. Impatient.

Denna, another significant character that popped up in the later quarter of the book didn’t grow on me much. I suppose she’s there to bring out the foolish young infatuated side of Kvothe and thus endear him more to us readers. I just didn’t care for her character and it irked me to have to listen to Kvothe moon over her over several chapters. I think he glorified her more than she deserved. I can’t wait for Kvothe to move on and find someone whose personality is actually GOOD for him.

Overall, I think I can say that this book is one of those books that you could be so exhaustingly engrossed in that you’ll not hear the apocalypse crashing down around you until you’re dead. It’s just one of those books that deserves actual shelf space rather than simply e-space.

Rating: 4.5 drug-enraged draccus looking to get their teeth whitened without having to pay dental

Excerpt: 

Ben taught me Heart of Stone, a mental exercise that let you think clearly about whatever you wished. Ben said a man who truly mastered Heart of Stone could go to his sister’s funeral without ever shedding a tear.

He also taught me a game called Seek the Stone. The point of the game was to have one part of your mind hide an imaginary stone in an imaginary room. Then you had another, separate part of your mind try to find it.

Practically, it teaches valuable mental control. If you can really play Seek the Stone, then you are developing an iron-hard Alar of the sort you need for sympathy [magic].

However, while being able to think about two things at the same time is terribly convenient, the training it takes to get there is frustrating at best, and at other times, rather disturbing.

I remember one time I looked for the stone for almost an hour before I consented to ask the other half of me where I’d hidden it, only to find I hadn’t hidden the stone at all. I had merely been waiting to see how long I would look before giving up. Have you ever been annoyed and amused with yourself at the same time? It’s an interesting feeling, to say the least.

Another time I asked for hints and ended up jeering at myself. It’s no wonder that many arcanists you meet are a little eccentric, if not downright cracked. As Ben had said, sympathy [magic] is not for the weak of mind.

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Filed under 4.5/5, of Books, Stories and Novels

It’s either re-read or succumb to the beetles

Ahh, glad to have survived to see 2013.

There’s not been very consistent activity on my blog for about half a year because I’ve just been too consistently lazy. I’m still burning lightbulbs every night reading but I’m too lazy to even mutter a few words here about it. This blog is supposed to be my reading diary to keep records of my reading experiences, so why the heck am I not doing it? Also, I’m finding that reading stuff on my own one after the other feels too much like when they overfeed ducks to make foie gras out of their livers. I’m just not digesting and I’m getting obese. So, I have literary indigestion or some form of literary obesity in which my mind is in a perpetual fug about everything I read. I think that’s why no book has really stood out for me this year. So, I’m going to give this blog another go and see if I have any self-discipline to maintain it this year if only for myself to read. Due to all those dedicated bloggers who post their favourite reads of each year I now have a list of stuff to attack.

On a side note: I had to pack away all my books, because I was afraid I might have a carpet beetle infestation in my house – I am afraid they will riddle holes in my precious books! I feel like re-reading all my books with the vacuum cleaner handy at every page to suck up any potential carpet beetle egg. Overdoing it??

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The peculiarities of Bitterblue city could keep me entertained for days

Title: Bitterblue

Author: Kristin Cashore

Genre: Fantasy

Synopsis: What happens after a sadistic – and not to mention mind-controlling – King destroys a kingdom? How you do pick up the pieces? Would you dig up those deeply buried, painful truths? After her cruel father’s rule was put to an end, Bitterblue inherits the crown. She herself still struggles with the painful memories of the perversities that were carried out during her Father’s reign. To make things worse, half the time she feels like the other inhabitants of the castle, down to the lowliest scrubs, are all half mad from being haunted by their own past memories. And everything Bitterblue’s advisors tell her to do is not helping and all her ideas for making amends with the people are ignored. And all these solutions are complicated by the fact that King Leck could have been responsible for forcing any number of people to commit disgusting cruel acts. How to tell whether someone was taking advantage of the times or whether they were under King Leck’s influence? All these troubles make Bitterblue restless at night, which leads to sneaking out of the castle, of course. Her first escapades lead her to the storyrooms where she encounters twisty-pathed personalities who seem to speak truth and lie in one breath. This is a story about Bitterblue’s investigation into the truth of things and her belief that through that process, she can try to heal and make reparations to her people in the most sincere way possible. But the more she seeks the truth, the more she ends up waking people from their protective slumber of forgetfulness. What is truth? Is it worth the pain that comes with it? Bitterblue city carries hidden, tragic secrets that run around down mad labyrinthine castle passageways and escape out into the night time city.

Impressions: This was a looooong book. It was full of courtly intrigues, code cracking, spying and truth unearthing. But everything happens really slowly in the beginning, mirroring everyone’s sleepy numbed, states. Then, things do speed up near the last portions of the story, and a lot of interesting connections between this book and Kristin Cashore’s other books Graceling and Fire are revealed. But, in general, it was a very slow moving story, for me. I do like the book very much, however. I like the characters, their names, their quirks, their ways to deal with what King Leck did to them, their interactions with each other. I ENJOY the character building. I just wish the plot would move a bit faster, there are great segments of the book that I don’t really remember what happens in them (perhaps I was reading it a bit too fast, though). BUT DO READ THIS BOOK – if not for the very endearing characters and their sometimes cutsey, sometimes tragic relationships with each other. Please do read the book! I promise you’ll like Bitterblue from page one. Kristin Cashore just has a way of writing characters so that they are instantly likeable and interesting. Of course, it helps that most of the characters are craaaazy. Gives more material to work with, I would think. Altogether a very well-crafted story – even comes with cutsey illustrations of Bitterblue city and the castle and the various architectures described in the story.

Rating: 4 salted caramels

Excerpt:

The room smelled of dust and had no windows. It was cavernous and square with no furniture, except for a single, massive, empty bed frame in the center of the room. The sculptures, on pedestals, filled the rest of the space; there must have been forty of them. Walking among them with Fox and the lantern was a bit like walking among the shrubberies of the great courtyard at night, for they loomed in just the same way, all seeming as they were about to come alive and start striding around.

She could see that they were the work of Bellamew. Animals turning into each other, people turning into animals, people turning into mountains or trees, all with a vitality, a sense of movement and feeling. Then the lamp caught a strange blotch of color and Bitterblue realized something was peculiar about these sculptures. Not just peculiar, but wrong: They were slapped over with gaudy, bright paint of every color, paint that made splatters all across the rug.

She had expected weapons of torture in this room, perhaps. A collection of knives, stains of blood. But not ruined art arrange on a ruined rug, surrounding the skeleton of a bed.

He destroyed the sculptures in his rooms. Why?

The walls all around were covered with continuous hangings. A field of grass, turning to wildflowers, then into a thick forest of trees that gave way to wildflowers again, then to the field of grass it had started with. Bitterblue touched the forest on the wall, just to assure herself that it wasn’t real, only a hanging. Dust rose; she sneezed. She saw a tiny owl, turquoise and silver, sleeping in the limbs of one of the trees.

Built into the back wall of the room was a door. It led to nothing more than a bathing room, functional, cold, ordinary. Another door opened to a closet space, empty and choked with dust. She could not stop sneezing.

A third doorway in the back wall, this one a simple opening with no door, led to a spiral staircase climbing up. At the top of the stairs was a door so thoroughly nailed over with boards that it was difficult to catch a glimpse of the door itself. Bitterblue pounded and called Helda’s name. When Helda responded, her question was answered: This was the staircase that led up to Bitterblue’s sitting room and the blue horse hanging.

Down the steps again, Bitterblue said to Fox, “It’s creepy, isn’t it?”

“It’s fascinating, Lady Queen,” said Fox, stopping before the room’s tiniest sculpture, staring at it, mesmerized. It was a human child, perhaps two years old, kneeling with arms outstretched. A girl with something knowing in her eyes. Her arms and hands were turning into wings. Her wispy hair was sprouting feathers, her toes turning into talons. Leck had slapped a streak of red paint across her face, but it didn’t manage to deaden the expression in her eyes.

Why would he try to ruin something so beautiful? What is the world he was trying, and failing, to create?

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Filed under 4/5

Is it a cinderella story?! SPIKED LEVELS OF ADRENALINE. RECOMMENDED COURSE OF ACTION: SLOW, MEASURED BREATHS. COUNTING 1, 2, 3…

Title: Cinder

Author: Marissa Meyer

Genre: Science-Fiction (cyberpunk?)

Synopsis:

Did you say Cinderella? My heart just swelled up like Kirby, swallowed Cinderella whole and floated off into Dream Land. I’m only just hacking up the 36% of indigestible metal.

Here, Cinderella is – as expected – squished down to the bottom of the junk pile. Without further ado, my heart bleeds for her. But she does remarkably well surviving in a prejudiced futuristic society where there are more reasons to snub a person than a group of Victorians at tea can come up with. She’s already an orphan, and there’s no Matthew to drive her down the White Way of Delight into a charming gabled house in the countryside. There’s only an over-populated cramped city with the stench of plague and garbage on the breeze. And did I mention that 36% of her is made of metal? Including the oft sought for, foot? Apparently futuristic earthens, with their increasing reliance on complicating technology, still can’t get over the horror of a person with prosthetic limbs. It’s hard to catch a break around here. In fact, Cinder’s busily applying herself to fixing broken down mechanicals (by slamming them repeatedly onto hard surfaces, even the experts recommend this) when she first meets Prince Charming. Prince Kai appears, to the oblivious market day mob, as a crazy homeless dude in a hoodie, toting a broken down bot. But thanks to her visual interface being hooked up to the net, Cinder is all ready to greet His Highness. And thanks to the temperature sensitive control panel in her brain, she doesn’t make a fool of herself blushing like mad, although there is some awkward one-legged bowing. So Cinderella and Prince Charming meet in chapter one and the story is well on its way to a bell-tolling wedding day frenzy!

Or so I thought (I know, I’m being unreasonable here, but I expect this relationship to work itself out in the span of one book!)

But, like I said, it’s hard to catch a break around here. Some prejudices just can’t be put aside so easily and some death-defying political manoeuvrings have no room for grandiose acts in the name of love; and frankly, even though a dude’s in love with our main girl, there are more things at stake than a broken heart.

Here we have an anti-cry, wired up Cinderella who grits her teeth and wields her wrench and is only mildly disappointed at the grease and rips and dents she collects along the way to saving her prince and earth from total destruction.

And also, it’s a Cinderella story, so relax and enjoy, you’re on autopilot.

Impressions:

Being cyborg Cinderella was a possibility for Halloween last year, but I ended up being zombie tooth fairy. Oh well. Maybe this year?

Anyway, Cinder is the first book in a quartet that promises to end in 2015. 2015??!! By then we will see cyborgs and hovercrafts in the daily news. Nooooo! I missed that page when I started reading so I fully expected the whole story to conclude by the last chapter, neatly, and perhaps with Cinder exacting her revenge on the mean ones and cutsey robots serving chilled drinks at her wedding. *SIGH*.

Regardless, I must concede that the plot complications introduced in book one could not possibly be resolved in one puny book alone and would require massive tomes to follow. And, though the story moves quite fast, there isn’t really time for our main couple to get to know each other. Firstly, I don’t completely understand why Kai has taken a fancy to Cinder, except for the fact that she’s the best mechanic in New Beijing. They hardly get that many scenes together, and when they are alone together it’s usually in an elevator, and he turns on his princely charm and she tries not to fry her circuits. In fact, she doesn’t even get to fixing his broken bot until well into the novel so how can he even tell if she’s really the great mechanic she’s rumored to be? Many of the scenes that display the real shine in Cinder’s personality do not involve Prince Kai at all. So, he really doesn’t know her. And it’s all the more confusing that every time he sees her he feels the compulsion to give her special attention. It must be the novelty of seeing a girl with grease in her hair and ripped cargo pants. Those must be hard to find in futuristic earth, where gender stereotypes still exist.

Plotwise, once you’re nicely settled into the world, it’s not too difficult to make the guesses. The only surprise I really had was the fact that the story didn’t end by the last page. There were some frustrating scenes where SOMETHING IMPORTANT was about to be revealed – usually by Dr. Erland – but a whole slew of beeping communicators and flabbergasted angry heroines prevented such information to be passed on efficiently, leading to a prolonging of the plot device’s expiration date.

Also, for some reason, I don’t feel like there’s enough meanness from the step relations. Okay, Cinder’s life is already on the rocks, but I’ve read some Cinderella re-tellings where the relations were absolutely UNBEARABLE. Like that terrible donkey butt (excuse my imagery) Hattie in Ella Enchanted. And yes, Adri did send Cinder off to terrible places, and she does appear to be fairly lazy and self-involved, but I wasn’t scared of Adri at all. Maybe it’s because stepmom’s petty meanness pales in comparison with the conniving intelligence of Queen Levana who is not only intelligent, but jealous and stubborn and has bioelectrical powers of manipulation to brain control people (which she prefers to call, magic). She’s the real terror. You’ll have to read the book to find out how terrible.

Prince Kai is the guy with the true problems. He’s stuck in an excruciatingly painful stalemate by the end of the book and fending off frivolous moony girls at his coronation ball is the least of his worries. The commonwealth he rules is infested with a plague, the Lunars are bombarding him with their bioelectrical brain waves, and he can’t even get a mechanic to fix his broken robot promptly. It’s never been so tough to be a Prince.

So, the real issue I have with this book is we’ve got two well-developed characters – I just don’t understand how they will fit into each other’s lives, personality-wise?

I definitely foresee more antics to come in the next few books involving Cinder getting more comfortable with the truth of her heritage, and continuing to try to save the Prince and Earth single-footedly. Perhaps the next book will reveal a more believable romance between Cinder and Kai because right now the romance is a love-at-first-sight type, which is fine for a start but needs more juicyness added, in my opinion.

Rating: 3.5 consort robots with ideal feminine shapes and a weakness for shoes

Excerpt:

Cinder slammed shut the apartment door and marched into the living room. Adri was sitting stiff beside the hearth, glowering at Cinder as if she’d been waiting for her.

Cinder clenched her fists. “How dare you send for me like some common criminal? Didn’t you think that maybe I was in the middle of something?”

“How dare I treat you like a common cyborg, you mean?” Adri folded her hands in her lap. “You are a common cyborg, and one who is under my legal jurisdiction. It is my duty to ensure you don’t become a menace to society, and it seemed quite clear that you were abusing the privileges I’ve allowed you in the past.”

“What privileges?”

“I have always allowed you freedom, Cinder, to do as you like, to go where you like. But it’s come to my attention you do not respect the boundaries and responsibilities that come with that freedom.”

Cinder frowned and drew back. She’d had her own angry speech repeating in her head the entire hover ride home. She had not been expecting Adri to bite back with a speech of her own. “Is it because I didn’t respond to a few comms?”

Adri tucked her shoulders back. “What were you doing at the palace today, Cinder?”

Cinder’s heart skipped. “The palace?”

Adri raised a calm eyebrow.

“You’ve been tracking my ID.”

“You’ve made it necessary to take precautions.”

“I haven’t done anything.”

“You haven’t answered my question.”

Cinder’s internal warnings went off. Spiking adrenaline. She sucked down a breath. “I went to join the protests, all right? Is that a crime?”

“I was under the impression that you were in the basement, working, as you were supposed to be doing. To sneak out of the house without permission, without even informing me, to attend some gratuitous parade, and all the while Peony is –“ Her voice hitched. Adri lowered her eyes, collected herself, but her voice was thicker when she spoke again. “Your records also show you took a hover ride today, to the outskirts of the city, the old warehouse district. It seems clear to me that you were attempting to run away.”

“Run away? No. There is… that’s where…” She hesitated. “There’s an old parts store down there. I was going for parts.”

“Is that so? And pray tell, where did you get the money for the hover?”

Biting her lip, Cinder sank her gaze to the floor.

“This is unacceptable,” said Adri. “I will not tolerate such behavior from you.”

Cinder heard shuffling in the hallway. Glancing around the door, she saw Pearl sneaking from her bedroom, drawn to her mother’s raised voice. She turned back to Adri.

“After everything that I’ve done for you,” continued Adri, “everything we’ve sacrificed, you have the gall to steal from me.”

Cinder frowned. “I didn’t steal from you.”

“No?” Adri’s knuckles whitened. “A few univs for a hover ride I could have overlooked, Cinder, but tell me, where did you obtain 600 univs in order to pay for your – “ Her eyes fell to Cinder’s boots, lips curling in a sneer. “ –your new limb? Isn’t it true that that money was reserved for rent and food and household expenses?”

Cinder’s stomach clenched.

Other reviews:

-Angie from Angieville: “Cinder is quite a serious book, both in the sense that it takes itself seriously and that it deals with serious issues, such as death, disease, class conflict, and war. I think I was expecting something lighter, but the whole taking-itself-seriously and the fascinating world building quickly set me at ease. I loved the attention to detail with which Ms. Meyer depicted the grimness of Cinder’s life and her world.”

-Cat from Beyond Books: ” This book is FANFRICKENTASTIC and if you like YA literature and you like whimsy and great character development and gripping mysteries and future stuff – then get your hands (be they human or cyborg) on a copy of this book right away!”

-Jennie from Blibliophile: “Several people have complained that there’s not a lot of spark between Cinder and Prince Kai. There’s not. There’s some “oo hot guy that I oddly respond to” but no swoon or insta-love. I’m ok with that, because it’s not like we’re being TOLD that they lurve each other and not seeing it. They’re attracted to each other but don’t really know each other and I can see this turning into a slow burn that ratchets up over the next few books.”

-Sheila from Book Journey: “Cinder is the first  have read like this and I loved how incredibly well done the book is.  Marissa Meyer weaves between this Apocolyptic time and the storyline of the original Cinderella I am amazed at how she does it.  All the key elements are there, the crabby step mother, the prince, the ball, the dress, and even something orange to arrive in but I wont tell you what…. ;)

- Skye from BookRain: “This is a fast read, and completely entertaining. It’s not so exhaustively high-tech to the point that you don’t understand what the heck is going on either.  I think this qualifies as a dystopian book, because although the world is high-tech, the world is bleak with disease threatening to kill and no antidote to be found. Plus society is against our protagonist and poor Cinder goes through more than one identity crisis.”

-Bookshelves of Doom: “Man, I love that sci-fi is getting huge. Cinder is loads of fun—mostly due to seeing a familiar story play out in a new setting, but Cinder herself is also a tough, smart, mouthy, resourceful heroine, so spending almost 400 pages with her is completely enjoyable—and I’m totally, totally looking forward to the next one in the series. “

-Emily from Emily’s Reading Room: “Cinder is an exciting heroine who can look out for herself. And because of the cruelty of her stepmother, she has been doing just that. But, in spite of her stepmother’s and stepsister’s disdain for her, Cinder finds friendship in her other stepsister, Peony, and android Iko. Add to that an old pumpkin-orange car, and an ill-fitting foot that falls off at a pivotal moment, and you have a redesigned Cinderella with plenty of endearing touches.”

-Hitting on Girls in Bookstores: Video Review

-Miss Remmers from Miss Remmers’ Reviews: “”Cinder” is more than a re-imagining of the classic Cinderella story but is more comparable to Star Wars meets “Across the Universe” with a little bit of Cinderella twisted in type of story. When I think of Cinderella, I think of foolish stepsisters, a wicked stepmother, a quiet and almost ridiculous Prince, and of course the few mice and pumpkins. “Cinder” on the other hand incorporates one evil, and I mean REALLY, evil stepsister (what a brat!), and WITCH of a stepmother!, a handsome, humorous, and chivalrous Prince, with a few androids sprinkled in.”

-Enna Isilee from Squeaky Books: “One of the things I loved about this book is that, even aside from being sci-fi, Marissa wasn’t afraid to make the fairy-tale her own. This book isn’t predictable because it follows the original/Disney Cinderella. She has so many more things that make it unique. Moon-people with “magic” powers, a robot helper (instead of mice), and a stepsister who actually likes her! So fun! One of my pet-peeves is when fairy-tale “retellings” are SO close to the original story that it’s a stretch to call them a “retelling.””

-The Book Muncher: “It boils down to this: Cinder is one spectacularly written, incredibly imaginative and romantic, futuristic fairytale retelling. Ordinarily, Cinderella as a cyborg is a concept that sounds a little odd to me, but debut author Meyer makes it work wonderfully. Her worldbuilding feels so effortless and integrated that everything from androids to an evolved race of people living on the moon to an unusually deadly plague feels completely natural within the story. This is a novel that readers will find easy to become invested in, because of the vivid characters, the futuristic setting, and the irresistibility of such a good story.”

-Thea from The Book Smugglers: “I also have to agree with Ana in that I didn’t buy the romance between Kai and Cinder. I don’t really think there’s much to go on with Kai’s character. For all that he seems like a nice guy and hits all the right prince charming notes, there’s nothing distinct, memorable or anything to connect with when it comes to our prince. As far as the other characters are concerned, I share Ana’s appreciation of the Lunar Queen Levana – she’s a pretty badass villainess. The other standout character, to me, is Cinder’s stepmother Adri (though again, weird name choice) – I appreciate that Ms. Meyer shows a depth to Adri and her attachment to Cinder’s adoptive father, which lends a humanity to what could have been a one note villain.”

-Ana from The Book Smugglers: “Story-wise, Cinder has different yet interconnected threads. On one hand, there is Cinder and her family life, her difficulties at being unloved and exploited by her stepfamily which in this novel are further complicated by the fact that she is a Cyborg in a world that doesn’t exactly welcome them as equal beings to humans. On the other hand, there is the world in the future and the plague, the stress of the politics between the Earth and the Moon and its Lunar people and their Queen. All of this combines in a way to build Cinder’s internal and external conflict and I thought all was really well done especially with regards to the world-building and the fairytale crossover. Although the Cinderella elements are almost secondary to the story, I thought they were expertly handled by the author and it was fun how certain aspects of the tale were incorporated differently here (like the shoe, the carriage, etc). It also has to be said that there is of course, a certain level of predictability stemming from the connection with Cinderella as well as fairly obvious plot twist about Cinder’s true identity. In fact, this was so obvious that I suggest this was done on purpose. To me, it made it all the more fun to follow Cinder through the discoveries she was making.”

-The Story Siren: “The one thing that impressed me the most was the story. I absolutely loved it. I loved the world that Meyer created and the characters, I loved how she took one of my favorite fairy tales and MADE IT BETTER! And after that ending, wow! I am dying for book two, literally dying!”

-whatchYAreading

-prophecygirl from Wondrous Reads: “Cinder is such a brilliant debut novel, exciting and fresh and totally unexpected. The way everything unfolds is clever, and the parallels with Cinderella are fun to spot. There are three more books coming in this Lunar Chronicles series, each centred around three other female fairytale heroes, and OMG I cannot wait to read them. If they’re anything like Cinder, we are in for a real literary treat.”

-Megan from Write Meg: “Cinder has a little bit of everything beneath its intriguing cover: romance; family dynamics; threat of annihilation; magical Lunar people. There’s all this talk of who Cinder really is and where she comes from and why she’s so special, so different from everyone else. There’s Prince Kai, who we’re told is all hottie hot (a rebellious Prince Harry, if you will). There’s all this talk of impending doom and disaster, and yet . . . I didn’t feel it.”

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Filed under 3.5/5, Books I rated, of Books, Stories and Novels

And as winter turns to spring, the lazy furred creature stirs from hibernation, flabbergasted at how much time has passed since she last posted

Hey guys,

I’m so sad! I’m so sad that I’ve let this place become a black hole of nothingness for half a year. Grad school to-dos have been kind of like the zombies from the walking dead, popping out of closets and wells just when you think you’re safe and screaming and shooting will only make things worse.

I’ve read so many books though! To list some of them and follow up with hullabaloo-word-sneeze-types of comments:

-Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card: Typical, well-crafted storytelling with intelligent not-too-pompous protagonist who always seems to find the upper-hand in tricksy situations thereby creating a story which is falsely exciting and expectantly comforting. You can let yourself pretend to be anti-hero-like but your destiny is TO WIN. Incidentally, this one’s about kids who can manipulate time and space using “science” to explain their psychic abilities.

-Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card: Refer to the above comments but slather with more awesome-sauce and less gravity. This one’s a classic. If you have any self-respect at all, you can’t end up not liking Ender Wiggins (did I do the double negatives right?).

-Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold: Reads like a soap opera. Some characters are admirable, some make you want to end your pain in a violent way, and some are just hot. This one took me back to traditional medieval fantasy land. Thought I’d like it more, though.

-The Darkest Powers trilogy by Kelley Armstrong: Like the main character. Like the main love interest. Fear and despise the bad guys. Read this three-in-one tome in a day – had no choice as could not sleep, too creeped. Necromancers are usually so butt-kicking, but this one was interesting as Chloe is just learning about her powers from scratch. She’s just as freaked out of her mind as you are when you’re reading. Excellent read.

-1984 by George Orwell: Imagine the ingredients involved in creating the most paranoid society you can think of that is still functionable. There you have it.

-Behemoth and Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld: This is where I’d drop by your desk and use the line, “looking for a good ol’ rollicking adventure?” (elbow jab) and recommend this book. On the one hand we have English folk who like to care for their inflatable jellyfish balloons and enjoy a stroll about the innards of fire-hazards like whales, on the other hand we have the germans trying to sneak around on insectoid machines. It took me a while to warm up to Deryn, and it took me a while to stop screaming at Alek for doing stupid things that become perfect opportunities for Deryn to prove how awesome she is. I think I’m just jealous.

-Troubled Waters by Sharon Shinn: What a nice Sharon Shinn. I like Corie from Summers at Castle Auburn more than I like Zoe, but this world is more interesting. I always sink comfortably into Sharon Shinns, it’s like soaking in a nice warm bath with soap bubbles and steam and a nice-smelling candle or two. Here we’ve got some romance, some political shenanigans, and a really neat magical concept about elements that make up a character of a person.

-The Scorch Trials by James Dashner: Now things are more confusing and scarier than ever. I just can’t stop wanting the kids to be tortured more! What? If you’re still reading this series, you’re obviously slightly sadistic yourself. But honestly, what is going on? I’m more in the dark than ever! But the terrible apocalyptic-ness and never-endingness of the chidlren’s misery has me riveted.

-Ice by Sarah Beth Durst: I’m so glad that someone recommended me this gem. Here we have an awesome re-telling of East of the Sun, West of the Moon. And here I thought it was impossible to make this fairytale heroine and her self-pitying bear buddy likeable. I believe! I believe! And I want this story to be true! Events fall into place logically, and Cassie, our main girl, manages to continue being likeable despite all the mess-ups and the bear manages to actually have a personality. Cassie is a top-notch heroine.

-The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima: Getting into this series right now (currently reading The Exiled Queen). Fairly decent storytelling at work, though the magical concepts are nothing too new so far. Hans gives me Eugenides vibes, just saying (though so far love Gen lots more). Still trying to get a better sense of the seven realms. I have this strange need to stretch my legs a little and go wandering about disguised as a peddler.

-Incarceron and Sapphique by Catherine Fisher: I’ve never felt so much sympathy for a prison. Imagine all these little pale-skinned creatures scuttling and burrowing and whining and bickering all around you. Ugh. I’d become depressed and maniacal. Got some sci-fi and some magic. Got some characters with identity issues and daddy issues. Still don’t completely understand how the “science” works here, but was entertained by the world building. Satisfying in a dark and moody sort of way.

-Birthmarked by Caragh M. O’Brien: We have a great heroine who stirs up trouble and stands up against people who think they can make the rules and make everyone miserable. The rules involve babies from poor people living in the post-apocalyptic landscape being taken away from their mothers to be brought up inside a walled settlement where food and health care and education are reserved. It’s supposed to be a great opportunity for the babies, but generally makes the mothers quite unhappy. Quite a curious world I’d like to learn more about.

-The Nine Lives of Chloe King by Liz Braswell: Sort of “Buffy the vampire slayer” season 1 except from the point of view of the demons, who happen to exhibit cat-like features. Reads as fast as The Darkest Powers trilogy.

-Cold Fire by Kate Elliott: Continue the steamy romance between Cat and Andevai, except make it more complicating and strained than it already is. Will they ever be together and openly respect and trust each other? No. Then the fun would stop! Reading this one makes me miss the coolness of the first one. This one’s really sizzling!

-Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve: I loved his Mortal Engine Series – what a neat world! Though every time I try to explain the concept to somebody, I sound like an idiot. Anyway, this book goes all the way back to the beginning before the motoring cities. I was very entertained, I just love the weirdness of the place and Philip Reeve’s humor (The Engineers live inside a large, bald Head that was supposed to be a statue of a past ruler) and all the characters – even the annoying ones.

-The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong: In my opinion, not as good as The Darkest Powers trilogy. Everyone seems to get along too easily. And it kind of annoys me that everyone seems to need Maya to approve of them so that they can be accepted into the little middle-of-nowhere community. Was disappointed that Rafe wasn’t actually the bad boy he pretends to be. No one was a real troublemaker. Things just happened and out-of-towners were mocked for being clueless as how to survive in the wild. Overall was disappointed.

-Rebel Angels by Libba Bray: Read A Great and Terrible Beauty many lifetimes ago, so it took a while for everything to come back. The book starts off slow but gets real gripping real fast. The main gaggle of girls can be irritatingly girly at times, but they latch onto you like barnacles so you’re forced to care. But, truly, the story gets creepier, I suspect, in the last book. Quite well-written, with characters that you love but annoy you as much as your best friend can. You get real chummy with these girls by the end of the grisly adventure.

Yay, I’ve updated my book diary!

And who’s been keeping up with the Walking Dead and wanting to build a tree house?

Completely off topic – now I want to do this.

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Filed under of Books, Stories and Novels