Cinder by Marissa Meyer: Book Review

CinderThis one had been on my ‘to read’ list for a while, largely due to its futuristic concept of a cyborg Cinderella. Instead of the dainty little ash girl we are so familiar with, the Cinderella of this story (Linh Cinder) is a strong-minded and intelligent mechanic. She is also the ward of a jealous and neglectful stepmother who, along with her daughters, is dependent on Cinder to make cash. Cinder also happens to be a cyborg – a human with mechanically enhanced limbs and brain interface – and is thus seen as a second-class citizen by most inhabitants of New Beijing.

When delving into faerietale retellings, I expect to read something completely different and unique whilst still maintaining a sense of the familiarity and spirit of the original. In this sense, Cinder succeeds. Unfortunately, a few of the ideas are not developed enough. Why, for example, are cyborgs seen as second-class citizens when they’re effectively just humans who have been injured and patched up by science? This is never explained. How have the Lunars come to be so powerful and why do they want to go to war with Earth? Also, despite being set in China (where the earliest known version of the tale originates), there is very little evidence of Chinese culture and customs here; it all seems very westernised, in a manner that doesn’t seem realistic despite being set a significant way into the future. The plot is also incredibly predictable, to the point that you can guess the ending within about ten pages (and I’m not talking about the traditional storyline here).

Nevertheless I’m really intrigued by the concept and considering that this is very obviously part of a series (entitled The Lunar Chronicles), the world and ideas contained herein may yet be developed further in future books. I fully intend to read the follow-up, Scarlet, when I eventually manage to get my hands on it.

Verdict: 2/5

S.E. Berrow


For more information on Marissa Meyer, Cinder and The Lunar Chronicles please check out the author’s website:

http://www.marissameyer.com/

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Demon Road by Derek Landy: Book Review

Derek Landy | Demon RoadDerek Landy, author of the fantastically funny, dark and gritty Skulduggery Pleasant series, kind of set himself up for a fall. Demon Road is an entirely new book series with entirely new characters set not only in a different country from Skulduggery Pleasant, but also amidst a new supernatural underworld with a completely different set of rules. After three trilogies, one novella and several short stories chronicling the escapades of everyone’s favourite crime-fighting skeleton, I felt nervous about venturing into such new and unfamiliar territory. Derek wrote Skulduggery Pleasant for so long… Surely this new book wouldn’t be anywhere near as good? Surely I wouldn’t be able to keep myself from comparing the two? What if I didn’t lose myself in the world as much? The Skulduggery Pleasant series took over my life for several weeks. How on earth could Demon Road match up? I feared the ‘Casual Vacancy Effect’, for what is Demon Road to Skulduggery Pleasant if not the equivalent of J.K. Rowling’s follow-up to Harry Potter?

This book was such a fantastic surprise. A hilariously subversive take on the bleak sense of loneliness and entitlement felt by Generation Y vs. the sheer greed and selfishness of Generation X, Demon Road follows Amber, a lonely sixteen-year-old girl, who one day not only discovers that there’s a bit more to the family tree than she first realised, but that her parents also want her dead. In order to escape she must first strike a deal with a Devil and then clamber into a vintage Dodge Charger – that also happens to eat people – with a complete stranger – who may or may not be a serial killer – and drive across the black roads of America, fighting killer psychic children, vampires and lovesick ents along the way.

Packed absolutely full to bursting with classic American-Horror set-pieces, drawing inspiration from the likes of Stephen King, Alfred Hitchcock, John Carpenter, Wes Craven, H.P. Lovecraft and – seemingly, bizarrely – Are You Afraid of the Dark?, the end result is a rip-roaring gore-fest with some genuinely spectacularly creepy moments that is essentially one long love letter to the road trip and horror genres. It is well-written and tightly plotted, and somehow manages to meander from one horror trope to the next without ever venturing off the main point. Throw in Derek Landy’s trademark wit and humour plus some truly brilliant characters – such as the endearingly awkward Amber and the dangerously reticent Milo… Hell, even the weirdly pet-like Charger – and you’ve got a recipe for a really great book. The novel’s one weak point I would say is the character of Glen, who unfortunately does read a bit like a slightly more irritating carbon-copy of Fletcher from the Skulduggery Pleasant series. He did however grow on me in the same way he probably grew on Amber and Milo, like an overly-talkative Irish fungus.

Undoubtedly one of the best books I’ve read so far this year. I absolutely can’t wait for the follow-up, Demon Road: Desolation, which is due for release in March next year. Skulduggery Pleasant may be gone for good, but Derek Landy is most definitely back.

Verdict: 5/5

S.E. Berrow


For more information on Derek Landy, Demon Road and the Skulduggery Pleasant series, please check out the below links:

http://dereklandy.blogspot.co.uk/
http://www.skulduggerypleasant.co.uk/