Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Fairy Tale YA

Retelling fairy tales is in vogue now.  We have TV series like Grimm and Once Upon a Time, movies like Jack the Giant Killer or Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters and so many Snow Whites it’s a wonder the Evil Queen had enough poisoned apples for all of ‘em.  And where television and movies are trendy, the books are sure to follow…or lead.  Today instead of reviewing one book I’m going to review three:

Enchanted by Alethea Kontis

Not to be confused with Ella Enchanted (which in turn is not to be confused with the Anne Hathaway adaptation which is nothing like Gail Carson Levine’s book) or the Disney movie starring Amy Adams, this novel by Alethea Kontis is a mishmash of fairy tales and Mother Goose rhymes centering on the Frog Prince story.  Sunday is the seventh daughter of a magical family (all her other sisters correlate to fairy tales like Cinderella, and altogether they are almost-twelve dancing princesses).  One day Sunday meets a frog and befriends it, but it turns out this frog is a prince.  Awesome, right?  Except maybe the prince is possibly to blame for Saturday’s older brother Jack going missing. 

 I liked how this book intertwined all sorts of storybook concepts (Sunday and her sister’s names are from this poem, among other things).  There was a lot going on (which was good), but all the names ending in “–day” confused me (which was bad), and then at the end I had so many questions.  Honestly this is one YA book that could have been made into a series, each one focusing on a sister, perhaps.  According to the Amazon description, Enchanted is part of a series called “The Woodcutter’s Daughters”  so hopefully my main bone to pick with this book will be nullified soon.

The Lunar Chronicles: Cinder and Scarlet by Marissa Meier 

This series retells the Cinderella and Red Riding Hood stories in a science fiction setting.  Opening in a future earth where there are identity chips and androids and hovercrafts and space ships, humans live in fear of the looming threat by the Lunars, humanoid aliens who not only can read minds but manipulate willpower.  Add to that an plague outbreak, and you’ve almost got a dystopia going on in this first book.  Enter Cinder, a teenage cyborg mechanic who by chance befriends the dreamy Prince Kai.  He asks her to this ball…not knowing that one of her legs is, well, detachable.  Shenanigans ensue.

Fast forward to Scarlet, which adds the titular character (a feisty redhead in search of her kidnapped grandma) as well as follows Cinder on her further shenanigans.*  Scarlet is joined in her search—which becomes increasingly dangerous and violent—by a street-fighter named Wolf who has been genetically altered for strength, agility, and to have big teeth, my dear. 

There are two more books scheduled to come out for The Lunar Chronicles, but I enjoyed both the first ones enough to recommend the first two for fans of the TV show Firefly as well as fans of science fiction, Steampunk, and fantasy.  I look forward to reading the other two.

*Which I can’t describe for spoiler reasons since I don’t want to ruin the first book.


PARENTAL NOTES: Not much to worry about for any of these books.  As with many YA books, there are a few swear words (usually religious words used in a nonreligious way).  The Lunar Chronicles, particularly Scarlet, got a little “boy-crazy” talking about how dreamy Kai was or Wolf’s tight black T-shirts.  It was unintentionally hilarious. 

AVAILABILITY: You can get Enchanted here although as it is a relatively recent publication it should be available in larger bookstores.   As for The Lunar Chronicles, they are also new publications, and you can even preview the first five chapters of both Cinder and Scarlet for free on Kindle.  They are also new publications, so in addition to local large bookstores you can also buy them here and here via Amazon.

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