Friday, March 21, 2014

REVIEW: Cress by Marissa Meyer

by Marissa Meyer

“I am an explorer,' she whispered, 'setting courageously off into the wild unknown.' It was not a daydream she'd ever had before, but she felt the familiar comfort of her imagination wrapping around her. She was an archeologist, a scientist, a treasure hunter. She was a master of land and sea. 'My life is an adventure.' she said, growing confident as she opened her eyes again. 'I will not be shackled to this satellite anymore.'

Thorne tilted his head to one side. He waited for three heartbeats before sliding one hand down into hers. 'I have no idea what you're talking about,' he said. 'But we'll go with it.” 

Beginning where Scarlet left off, Cinder, Thorne, Scarlet and Wolf are on their ship (voiced by Iko, their droid compatriot) trying to think of a plan to overthrow the Lunar Queen, stop her from marrying Prince Kai and taking over the world. It is not a B movie, I swear. On a satellite circling earth, we find Cress, a long-haired Lunar shell (non-magical Lunar), who has spent her life working for the Queen, hacking their security feeds, monitoring their transmissions, and hiding Lunar movements. In all that time of solitude, she has fallen in love with earth, and more specifically with the dashing and suave Captain Thorne whom she knows is hiding a heart of gold under his selfish exterior. She teams up with our heroes, but when Thorne attempts to rescue her from her lonely outpost, Cress' guardian, the Lunar Thaumaturge finds them, and sends the satellite hurling to earth. In the process, Thorne is blinded (the witch throws the prince from the tower, he lands in thorns and his eyes are gouged out). Cress, newly shorn, and a blind Thorne must find their way across the desert, join Cinder and stop the royal wedding. 

Oh my god, these books are like fairy tale catnip for me. They are perfectly crafted adaptations. They touch on every single iconic moment of the original tales, but it is woven seamlessly into a new compelling science fiction political drama/ adventure novel. In every book, the heroines become more and more pleasing. Cinder was a determined kick-ass heroine along the model that we have seen before. Scarlet was a kick-ass heroine with beautiful weaknesses and flaws. Cress is a quirky shut-in damsel-in-distress, but in a way that does not diminish her complexity or humanness. She does not have awesome fighting powers, but is an intelligent and valuable contributer to the team. Meyer writes strong female characters who do not have to be physically strong, and I adore that. 

The women are not the only ones who develop in this book. Captain Thorne, swashbuckling wannabe extraordinaire who was introduced in Scarlet, must show his quality when he and Cress face the relentless desert, and underneath his swagger he has grit, determination, and genuine tenderness.He is not just prancing comic relief, but a man who deserves the love Cress feels for him. 

Dr. Erland also finds himself on a journey of self triggered by the revelation of his fatherhood, as he attempts to reconcile highly immoral medical practices and his conscience. In my head, I cast Saul Rubinek as Dr. Erland and I think it is perfect. Make the movie now, please. 

We also meet an assholic Lunar guard who might turn into the prince of the next book, Winter. I am super excited!

One last thing I appreciate (of the many things I appreciate in these books) is how Meyer writes romance. There (so far) has been no sex in these books, but the tantalizingly sensual way the characters fall in love is so erotic that there doesn't need to be. How one character touches another softly, or even imagines being touched, is so tinglingly delicious. And yes, romance is a thing, but the focus is saving the kingdom, which shows that their priorities are in order. 

READ THESE BOOKS. That is all. 

The Lunar Chronicles

REVIEW: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
by Sherman Alexie

“I used to think the world was broken down by tribes,' I said. 'By Black and White. By Indian and White. But I know this isn't true. The world is only broken into two tribes: the people who are assholes and the people who are not.” 

Junior lives on the Spokane Indian Reservation, stuck in a life that has no forward momentum. You are born here, you live here, and you die here, poor as dirt and often mired in a despair that his family and community try to escape in dangerous and addictive ways. After becoming enraged that the textbook he was handed in class was the same one his mother used as a child, he is entreated by his teacher (the target of Junior's book-flinging anger who is saturated with regret) to get out. Junior takes his destiny into his own hands and enrolls in elite school miles away from the reservation, often hitchhiking back and forth. Despite his disadvantages, he begins to thrive, but at what cost? His reservation sees him as a traitor. How can he reconcile his heritage with his dreams?

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is witty, hopeful and heartbreaking. Junior's voice is so authentic, a teenage boy with an awareness of his community through the lens of his own wants and desires. Often times he is selfish and shallow, but that's being human for you. He begins as one thing, a weakling with an oddly shaped body due to a birth defect to a significant presence at his new school. He is allowed to blossom, rather then stunting and rotting in a place with no space to grow. The tragedy is that those he has left behind remain in this cycle of despair that has lasted generations. Is it betraying his heritage to abandon his community? Is it self preservation? Junior wrestles with these questions as the story continues, through tragedy, pain and bittersweet victory.