By Samantha Pak
Northwest Asian Weekly
By Marissa Meyer
Feiwel and Friends, 2012
At 16, Cinder is the best mechanic in New Beijing.
From androids to hovers, there is nothing she can’t fix. Her talents may be revered throughout the Eastern Commonwealth, but Cinder is also considered a technological mistake because she is a cyborg. With various mechanical parts — including a mechanical foot — people from all over seek her for her services, but those who know the truth avoid her.
It is this reputation that brings Prince Kai, heir to the Commonwealth throne, to Cinder’s small shop.
He needs her to repair a broken android before the upcoming annual ball, jokingly saying it’s a matter of national security.
Their encounter stays with Cinder — especially the prince’s personal invitation to the ball — but any thoughts of possibly attending the ball are squashed as her stepsister Peony falls ill with the plague that has been killing people all over the planet.
Set far into the future, during a time when humankind may be on the brink of war with the Lunar race from the moon, “Cinder” is a spin on “Cinderella.” This is the first in a new series called the Lunar Chronicles.
And while there are a number of familiar elements from the classic fairy tale, such as a protagonist at the mercy of a horrible stepmother and special footwear of great significance, “Cinder” is also a story filled with secrets, betrayals, subterfuge, questions of loyalty, and discovery.
This was one of the reasons why I really enjoyed this book. Meyer uses “Cinderella” as a foundation for her plot, but she expands and adds her own elements.
Cinder is a strong character who stays focused on her goal without getting distracted. In this case, it means finding a way to help Peony and not exploring her growing feelings for Kai because she knows if he finds out she is a cyborg, it will only hurt that much more — especially after Cinder learns more about her long-forgotten past.
By Alison Goodman
The Empire of the Celestial Dragons, a fictional country inspired by Chinese and Japanese cultures, is in upheaval. Ten of the 12 Dragoneyes charged with protecting the land are dead, and the two that are still alive are Lord Ido, the Rat Dragoneye who betrayed and killed his fellow Dragoneyes, and Lady Eona, the untrained Mirror Dragoneye who disguised herself as a boy to be chosen as a Dragoneye apprentice.
Little did anyone know that her gender would be key in restoring peace and balance to the empire.
But now, the fate of the land rests in her hands. Eona must learn how to control her powers, discover the secrets of the dragons, and help prince Kygo reclaim his rightful role as emperor before his uncle, High Lord Sethon, takes over and destroys everything.
On top of that, Eona must relearn how to act like a female, especially as she grows closer to both Kygo and Ido. Her relationships with the two men are vastly different. One is based on tender feelings and equality (most of the time) and the other on physical attraction and a shared bond as fellow Dragoneyes.
Love triangles are always complicated, but this one is especially so. Eona doesn’t know if she can trust either man. Kygo usually treats her as an equal, but he is the true emperor, and Eona questions if he wants her just for her powers as a Dragoneye. While she thinks she has healed Ido of his wickedness, Eona is not sure if the man who killed their fellow Dragoneyes is fully remorseful.
One of the things I loved about “Eona,” the sequel to “Eon,” is how gender roles are blurred. Part of this comes from having a protagonist who lived as a boy for four years — the scene where Eona swears in front of Kygo will bring a laugh. But a greater part comes from Eona herself, who has a strong sense of what is right and wrong. She is not afraid to speak her mind. She shows that women and men are equals and isn’t afraid to challenge anyone who defies her.
By Colleen Houck
When we last left off, Kelsey Hayes was in the middle of a quest to break a curse put on Indian princes Ren and Kishan more than 300 years ago that forces them to take the forms of tigers for most of their days.
She and Kishan have just completed a dangerous quest and rescued Ren from Lokesh, the sorcerer who had cursed the brothers three centuries earlier.
But now that the man she loves is back, Kelsey and the others have learned that something has happened. All of Ren’s memories related to Kelsey have been erased.
Devastated, Kelsey works to sort out her feelings for a man who no longer exists, while she grows closer to his brother and they try to figure out how to get Ren’s memories back.
The new Ren begins to develop feelings for her, and as the two brothers vie for her attention, Kelsey becomes torn. Should she go back to Ren, for whom her love is so deep it could swallow her whole, and hope he regains his memory? Or should she be with Kishan, who is steady and dependable and, above all, will keep her from losing herself?
In addition to the love triangle, there is adventure. Figuring out feelings gets difficult as the trio and Mr. Kadam and Nilam — two people who have been with them on this quest since the beginning — work to find the goddess Durga’s Black Pearl Necklace. Doing so would bring them one step closer to defeating Lokesh. To do so, the group enters the realm of the dragons where Kelsey, Ren, and Kishan must complete a number of tasks set by the five dragons that exist there.
Through all of this, Kelsey learns about different types of love and how not just one is right or wrong. She learns that love is love and that it is not easy, a lesson we should all remember. (end)
Samantha Pak can be reached at email@example.com.