27 October 2013

Cinder/Scarlet - Marissa Meyer

Welcome to the world, hundreds of years into the future. It has seen World Wars 3 and 4, it has introduced androids into the mainstream, it has discovered another race that is living on the moon and for the last 15 years it has seen a deadly plague wipe out thousands of people.

Cinder is a mechanic and a cyborg; a second-class citizen looked at with disdain, but she is the best mechanic in New Beijing. One day, Cinder is working in her stall when she receives an unexpected guest; the crown prince, Kai, venturing out of the palace to find someone to fix the royal android. No more spoilers! What happens next is an awe-inspiring and in places heart-breaking adventure for Cinder, culminating in a tense finale where the truth finally comes out. Did I guess it? Yeah, but not too far ahead of time.

In book number two we meet Scarlet, a girl living in the south of France with her grandmother. That is, until her grandmother is kidnapped by a vicious gang. A mysterious street-fighter named Wolf soon comes into the picture, and it turns out he is more involved than Scarlet first thought. Although she doesn't trust him, she enlists his help when she realises he'll be of some use. This book is even bigger than the last, with new revelations about the Lunars and their disturbing abilities, a few new characters to add more depth to the story, and some explanation as to Cinder's back-story, the first clue having been found out in the last few pages of Cinder.

Considering Cinder was written in just a month, Meyer has a really well developed sense of both her characters and her plots, building the back-story well in advance of the other characters coming into play in their own books. She began with a simple idea; a sci-fi fairy-tale, but has built it into a full-on save-the-world type story that entirely transcends the original fairy tales. With each book you read, the story seems to get bigger and more intriguing - answering your questions but in turn giving you new ideas to think on.

The characters are all likable, and they are all very well built, with their own specific traits, habits and flaws. I love the fact that Cinder isn't perfect or particularly beautiful, unlike her fairy-tale counterpart, and Scarlet's determination to find her grandmother, no matter how terrifying her situation is, is inspiring. Yes, the second book, Scarlet, is more hard-core, and the bad guys get even scarier.

These two books have it all; romance, action, complexity, futuristic settings and a hint of the other-worldly. Cress, the next Lunar chronicle out in 2014, is surely going to be even better!

9.5 out of 10