Cut to the Chase:
As the title suggests, this is a modern retelling of the classic fairytale Cinderella. Luckily, the story is retold in an exciting, feminist-friendly update to the sexist base of the traditional Cinderella. Cinder takes place in a dystopian future where cyborgs, androids, and hovercraft are part of everyday life and a war is on the horizon with the seemingly magical beings who live on the moon (the Lunars). The character Cinder is a fiesty adopted cyborg who is trying to make enough money as a mechanic to leave her oppressive homelife in Little Beijing. All the characters (including a prince, of course) are written so well you feel as if you have actually met them in real life. Cinder is a strong female character who turns the fairy tale on its head and refuses to be rescued. This is a great book for people of all ages – my sixty-one year old dad adores this series and can’t wait for the next book in the series. It’s definitely a good read for just about anyone!
Cut to the Chase: WWW:Wake is a contemporary hard sci-fi coming of age story. Apparently it is the first in a trilogy, but I was rather surprised to learn this, since this book stands so well on its own. This is one of the best hard sci-fi books I have read. I’ve read quite a lot of sci-fi dealing with the emergence of machine intelligence, but this is first one I found at all believable or well thought out. The human side isn’t neglected, either, as it often is in hard sci-fi; the author also does well here. The characters are vivid and unique, deep without a great deal of exposition. The author does a great job of condensing an intrinsically complicated story until it is both manageable and quick moving. With the exception of one brief scene (fairly PG, but non-consensual, groping) which might disturb some readers who are sensitive to such things, I would unhesitatingly recommend WWW:Wake to anyone with even a passing interest in sci-fi; I doubt you will be disappointed by this book.
Cut to the Chase: Jennifer Scales and the Ancient Furnace is a coming of age contemporary fantasy story of a young teenage girl who discovers that she is a weredragon (like a werewolf with scales and fiery breath). The fact that this is the first of a series of books leads to some compromises that detract a little from the overall quality, but nothing especially egregious. It is probably aimed primarily at younger readers, but I found the earnestness and unapologeticness of the book quite refreshing. The characters aren’t especially sophisticated, but they function fairly well even if they aren’t entrancing with their multitude of fascinating facets and subtleties. The story, similarly, is a little stereotypical for the genre but proceeds along quickly and smoothly, still managing some unexpected twists that keep you entertained. Overall, I was quite surprised that I enjoyed myself and would recommend the book especially to younger readers or those with an aversion to darker themes.