Okay okay, I digress. Point is, while my Kindle will never replace real books, I love it way more than I thought I would. (Un)fortunately, it's fed my book addiction in a very unhealthy way (I have placed myself on a book budget because at the beginning I went a little shop-happy), it was also such a blessing this summer with traveling around the world! I've found myself returning to a lot of Young Adult Literature this year. It's been so fun to read so many new series being published. I enjoyed a few series so much I decided to write a quick review/recommendation of two my favorites!
1. The Lunar Chronicles
By: Marissa Meyer
So, for anyone to take these age old stories on again... and present them in a fresh, engaging, and even surprising way seems an almost impossible task. This undertaking, however, is something Marissa Meyer has unquestionably conquered in my eyes.
The first book in Meyer's The Lunar Chronicles titled, Cinder was published in 2013. I must have walked by this book at least a hundred times in the library, picking up about ten times to read the synopsis, and then put it back down quickly after. While the cover was eye catching, the synopsis was something about New Beijing and a cyborg Cinderella. I mean, it sounded just plain weird to me. It wasn't until my roommate recommended I give the book a try that I did. And BOY, am I glad I did! Meyer is an extremely emotionally driven writer and I fell in love with her characters within minutes of meeting them. Yes, it's Cinderella and Prince Charming, I HAVE to love them. It was more than that though. These weren't your cookie-cutter, happily ever after characters. Woven into the timeless tales, Meyer brings in this incredible sci-fi element that is exhilarating and totally new. The best way I can describe her books is Star Wars-ified fairy tales... and it's incredible! Seriously, I love them! Meyer weaves together the story of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and finally Snow White. Even with knowing how these fairy tale character's stories are 'supposed' to end, there are so many outlying, unknown factors. Civilizations at war, disease, mind control, spaceship battles, and some of the most complex fairy tale characters I've ever met.
Cinder, for example is my favorite character of all of them. We know her story. She has an evil step-mother who treats her like a slave, an unwanted burden, as well as, over-indulged step sisters. Yet, this Cinder is also just happens to be the best mechanic in the kingdom. The reason being because she herself is part machine. Cinder was in a horrible accident as a child, one that would have killed her if not for skilled people working to save her life... unfortunately, the technology that saved her life has also made her an outcast in her world. She's a cyborg, half human, half machine. Split between two worlds. People like her step-mother see her as less complete and disposable. Other than her mechanical abilities, what use is her life? The only thing that gives Cinder hope that her world could be different is when the crown prince comes to her in secret to ask for her assistance in mending a palace robot. He treats her as an equal, despite the fact that she's little more than an ignoble laborer. In his eyes, all his subjects have value... but would he treat her the same if he knew the full truth?
I can't express enough how much pleasure I had reading this series. Meyer writes incredibly driven, torn, and intricate characters with raw emotion. I would without a doubt recommend this series to anyone who loves fantasy/sci-fi mixed with fairy tales, peril, adventure, and a little romance too!
(Side note: The final book in this series, Winter is coming out on November 10, 2015, so I actually haven't found out how the whole series ends, but I know it's been worth the wait!)
2. The Selection Series
By: Elle Strauss
It takes place in a fallen and transformed United States, where the crown prince must choose his wife through a contest known as The Selection. 35 girls from different national castes are chosen to compete for the prince's affections. Our heroine, America Singer, is one of the poorest girls to arrive at the palace. Not only that, but she's technically there by mistake. Her heart already belongs to a local boy named Aspen, her fierce and loyal companion, not to mention her first love. But Aspen has cast aside his love her her saying that The Selection is to her chance to do better than him.
Upon her arrival, the feisty red-head isn't interested in winning the heart of the arrogant, spoiled, and insensitive Prince Maxon. Or at least she wasn't, until the prince turns out to be the opposite of everything she thought. He's kind and generous, of course handsome, and truly wishes to serve his people--even those in the lowest castes of Illean society--and that includes pauper America. With her heart torn, America finds herself in the midst of diplomatic manipulation, rebellion, and of course, trials of love.
If you're looking for appropriate swoon-worthy YAL, this series is the way to go. The beautiful dresses and courtly society adds to the romance. For once we had a love triangle I wasn't totally annoyed with, haha. Also, I related to America's character immensely. She struggles with her identity, trying to find what or who truly defines her amidst a society pushing her this way and that. She makes mistakes, but recognizes them. She's intelligent, stubborn, confused, and talented, but unsure how to make a difference... The fact is she never dreamed she'd have the opportunity to make a difference, but now that she does... she has to choose how.
If you enjoy romance, courtly love, and the right amount of royal danger this series is definitely right up your alley.