As I mentioned in my last post, this week I’ve let myself relax a little by reading some YA fiction. As part of a goodreads challenge, I read Cinder at the beginning of the week and I’m definitely glad I did! I’ve also started The Vampire Diaries and am a little way into the fourth book of the original quartet. I’m liking it enough that I’m worried the TV show will mess with the plot too much, but am not sure if I’ll read any of spin-off series or not.
First of all, I liked it! It was exactly the sort of read I needed to get me through a busy, school-and-research-filled week. The author gets major points for coming up with such an original take on the Cinderella story. Although she has moved the story forward in time and made Cinder an android, that’s just the beginning. She also added her own secondary plots, with the earth struggling to avoid a war with a country formed from human colonists living on the moon and a dreadful plague sweeping the country where Cinder lives. Re-reading the previous sentence, it almost sounds too bizarre to be believe, but the whole plot flows quite logically and plausibly from the author’s excellent world building narrative. We never learn about the world in a way that feels disconnected from the plot; instead, we constantly learn new information while staying engaged with the current moment.
The major plot points were pretty predictable, even those not pulled directly from the original Cinderella story. In some books that might bother me, but in this case the exact way the plot unfolded and many of the little details were both interesting and unexpected. Plus I was expecting predictability to a certain extent since it is a book based on a fairy tale. However, the original Cinderella story was definitely just an inspiration for this series, which even in this first book has already diverged enough from the original that calling it simply a re-telling would be doing it an injustice. The book reminded me more of the movie Ever After (and if you haven’t seen that, you should go watch it now) than of the original fairy tale, because of the strong heroine.
Without giving too much away, I would like to say that I was surprised the ending didn’t at least wrap up the romantic plot line as per the original story. Despite the lack of resolution, the ending wasn’t enough of a cliff-hanger to annoy – just enough to leave room for some more wonderful books. I can’t wait for the next one!
The Vampire Diaries
After reading the first chapter of The Awakening I didn’t have high hopes for this series. Our protagonist seemed like your typical, vapid but popular girl and all I could think was that there had better be some serious character development. There were some intriguing plot hooks right away which left me with questions I wanted to know the answer too though, so it wasn’t just stubbornness which kept me reading. Initially the writing wasn’t especially impressive, relying too heavily on metaphors and similes to set the mood – something I think I was probably guilty of when writing fiction for Power of the Pen contests in eighth grade.
Fortunately, I kept reading because the writing became more engaging, the story pulled me in, and I actually became quite attached to the main character, Elena. Something I appreciated about this book compared to some other vampire books *coughtwighlightcough* was Elena’s reaction to finding out that her love-interest was a vampire. There’s lot of screaming and being freaked out, but not too much, and she fights through her fear to understanding only because she already loves him. The speed with which the characters fell in love earlier approaches unbelievable, but I think the empathic abilities of vampires in this series gives that a little more credence. I certainly like to believe that people would get to know and like one another better if they had more empathy, of either the supernatural or mundane variety.
The second and third book were basically more of the same. Elena develops into quite a strong character who mostly knows what she wants. For instance, these books do have a love-triangle going on but there isn’t enough uncertainty on Elena’s part to get annoying. Both the first and the second book end very poorly, not just with cliff-hangers, but almost as though the author just stopped at a random chapter with no wrapping things up. Fortunately, the complete quartet is out, so I considered that a forgivable flaw. The third book wrapped up very conclusively, but I think my feelings about how it ended will depend on how the fourth book turns out. So far, the fourth book seems very different, with a new narrator and even more of a horror-movie feel than the first three. I’m definitely still enjoying the series and will let you know how I feel when I’m done.
Cinder – 5 stars- Awesome, original and well-written. I like that we have a strong heroine and an innovative plot line, despite the beginning premise being drawn from Cinderella.
The Vampire Diaries – 3 stars – Way better than I expected. More realistic characters than some other vampire novels and with a surprisingly strong, likable heroine.