Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Let me just begin by saying that this book was not what I expected. At all.  I picked it up a few months ago, but after reading the back, discarded it as a sappy and cliché romance. Basically, the typical young adult novel.  However, prompted by a friend with high standards for books, I decided to give Cinder another chance.

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I was enchanted from the first chapter. I expected it to be some awkward blending of fairy tales and science fiction, but the two were woven together with such fluency that it only seemed natural for “Cinderella” to take place in a futuristic China. I screamed aloud, laughed, and even teared up as I read this book, to amusement of the friend who had recommended it.  It even made me think, which is quite a feat for any book less than a century old! I was so entranced by this book that another friend attempted to confiscate it and make me interact with the outside world. But how could I be expected to socialize when my new friends Cinder and Iko were in peril?

Speaking of my new “friends”, the characters in this book were really what made it so wonderful. I do not mean to condemn the entire young adult genre, but one does have to admit that the characters of its books are not always the most realistic or wholesome.  I mean, can we as teenagers really be expected to admire the wishy-washy Bella of Twilight, the too-perfect rebel of Legend, or supernatural love-interests found in so many other novels?  Cinder was different.  The female lead was endearingly flawed, smart, and dedicated to her sister and best friend (who happens to be an android, but still had more depth than Bella Swan…).  Best of all, she kept her focus on what really mattered despite her attraction to the charming prince.  (THANK YOU MARISSA MEYER FOR MAKING ROMANCE A SIDE DISH RATHER THAN THE WHOLE ENTREE!)

Read this book.  That is really all I can say.  It was an adorable and addicting fusion of two popular genres, fantasy and sci-fi, with a multi-layered plot and a cast of refreshing characters that readers can actually relate to (ignoring the fact that one is a cyborg, one is a robot, and one is an emperor… but whatever.)

My one regret about this book is that I finished it on Saturday and must wait until Monday to check out its sequel. Bleh.

Legend by Marie Lu

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As mentioned in my previous post, “Bookworms Anonymous,” I recently found myself in desperate need of some light reading.  The librarians at school recommended Legend, a dystopian society and romance combination similar to Divergent.  As I enjoyed Divergent (although I was slightly less enamored by it than other readers…) I figured that I would give it a try.  What I discovered was a fast-paced read with great potential but sadly lacking true significance.  (Granted, I had asked for light reading, but I have come to realize that my definition of “light” means “anything written within the past century” rather than “simple and gratifying.”)

I have no real complaint against this book as it successfully entertained me for a few hours, but overall I was a tad disappointed.  I can see why it is rarely available for check-out; it has the action, humor, and teen romance that many readers are seeking.  However, so many times the author tried- and failed- to be profound.  I’m sorry, but I really do not understand the point of referring to a fifteen-year-old heartthrob in dire need of a haircut as “an angel, although a broken one.”  I mean, I had sympathy for the characters- it is always rough trying to overthrow a totalitarian government while simultaneously struggling through puberty as an orphan- but they were stiff and the story was predictable.

Anyway, despite my qualms, I must give credit where credit is due: this book provided a means of escape during an insanely hectic time and therefore I remember it fondly.  And like I said, its story had potential and I have heard of many who enjoyed it, so perhaps it is worth skimming through, if not as food for serious thought, at least as a thick piece of brain candy.

Oh, and in case one piece of brain candy is not enough, there are sequels which hopefully expand upon the base laid by Legend.

Bookworms Anonymous

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“I can’t, I have to study… I’m sorry.”  Sorrowfully, I put the book back onto the library shelf.  With auditions and exams looming, I have been forcing myself to read textbooks and ignore the call of novels, but last week this discipline became my undoing.

While practicing my solo for a choir audition, my voice stopped. Completely.  It just would not work. When freaking out to my director, who is familiar with my book addiction, he asked me what I was reading at the moment.

“Nothing,” I admitted. He then prescribed a novel, reminding me that I cannot abandon all leisure time and expect to be relaxed enough to sing.  Feeling that I could justify reading since it was ordered by a teacher, I visited the library and checked out the first book recommended to me, a new piece of brain candy called Legend.  (I’ll review when I finish.)

It worked.  I took this new book on a walk around the park and then settled down with some tea. My anxiety lifted and, as weird as it sounds, I could sing again!

So basically, I guess my point is that giving up all pleasure reading (or any leisure activity) for studying (or work in general) can end up being as bad as sacrificing all work for all fun.  My addiction to novels was not actually hindering my progress, but the “withdrawals” certainly did. Besides, isn’t it just nicer to look forward to reading a story at the end of the day rather than a textbook?