Road Trip Wednesday #182: Carried Away

This week I’m joining the YA Highway road trip, which asks the following question:

This Week’s Topic: What’s been your most surprising read of the year so far—the book you weren’t sure about going in that really swept you off your feet?

I saw this question and knew it was an opportunity to gush about my latest reading love. While I’ve already written about my unexpectedly enjoyable read of The Raven Boys, this latest set of reads has me singing its praise and trying to convert everyone in my near vicinity to see its amazingness.

 

Goodreads description for Cinder and Scarlet

Oh, yes.

Let’s elaborate, shall we?

The setting…

It’s semi-dystopia, semi-fantasy, semi-science fiction, and all perfectly meshed together. I was surprised by the introduction of the Lunar queen, because I was so well settled in the plague-riddled world of New Beijing. But it fit together so well, even with the mechanics and androids thrown in. This world was expanded perfectly in Scarlet, with my favorite being a crumbling opera house as a scene-stealing third party in the final act.

The characters…

Cinder is exactly the sort of girl who I’d like to be friends with. Funny and smart, with plenty of convictions and a well-realized sense of who she was/is in her world. The fact that everything she knows is changed by the end of the first book only allows her to expand as a character. Scarlet, on the other hand, jumps out as a passionate fighter, and she’s kept distinct from Cinder, yet just as likable. The supporting cast: Iko, Thorne, Wolf, Kai…they are intriguing, funny, and characters worth rooting for.

Just one thing…

I finished Cinder wondering how the Lunar’s glamour worked, and why Queen Levana didn’t just spell everybody into submission. Scarlet helped explain a little bit more, showing off the Queen’s power, but I feel like I’m still waiting for a little bit more to be explained. If Earth people are so vulnerable, how is Kai even able to hold any conversation with the Lunars? His reaction is described in detail upon his first meeting, but despite the difficulties, he seems to have plenty of cheek (good for him!) in later conversations. He does end up literally tongue-tied in Scarlet at one point, which makes sense considering Levana’s abilities. But how did he get away with his fabulous responses without that being used previously? I just don’t know where the boundaries are, and that makes the power feel a little underused.

So…

Quibbles aside, I loved these books. I didn’t expect to have so much appreciation for them. They’re page-turners filled with interesting characters and a fresh, exciting world. And my favorite part? They’re based on fairy tales, which were my bread-and-butter when I was growing up. Rather than be constricted by the basic storyline, the books are allowed to expand beyond them, and the nods to the original material are woven in with care and detail. Marissa Meyer never detracts from the main storyline to offer some homage to the fairy tale. Instead, she makes it an integral part of the story, and it allows you to be surprised and pleased as you retroactively recognize the elements of the basic tale.

So, what book has kidnapped you and happily stolen your time recently?

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14 comments on “Road Trip Wednesday #182: Carried Away

  1. I LOVED these books too. Just finished Scarlet last week, in fact. I cannot wait for the next one! Figuring out Wolf was probably my favorite part. There were a bunch of curve-balls thrown in his character, but I loved how it progressed and where he is now.

    And seriously, I’d become a cyborg to have such a handy hand as Cinder has! 🙂

    • Rae says:

      Wolf was so good! His progression was fabulous, and I can’t wait to see him on the team for the next books.
      And yeah, Cinder’s hand is awesome. I liked how she practiced her glamour on it. It may be shiny and new, but it still makes her an android.

  2. Jaime Morrow says:

    Fairy tales were always a favourite when I was growing up too, so these books were right up my alley. I love how unique and yet familiar they are. The cast of characters is fantastic, though I would have liked a bit more Kai in SCARLET. I’m sure we’ll see more of him and the others in the next books. Can’t wait to read them! 🙂

    • Rae says:

      I missed seeing Kai and Cinder on the same page. 😦 They were so great together in CINDER. The world expanded so well in SCARLET–I’m really excited to see how it continues to grow in the next books. I wonder if we’ll get a glimpse on Luna?

  3. I just finished CINDER and am currently reading SCARLET. I’m glad to read another rave review on the series. I’m enjoying them. 🙂

    • Rae says:

      Yay! Join the fan club! I hope I didn’t spoil anything in my gushing-disguised-as-a-book-review. I could probably talk about these characters all day. 🙂

  4. Rachael says:

    I’m still insanely late to the party. I really just need to get into a bookstore and pick up CINDER.

  5. Cinder was one of my most surprising reads of last year. The reason I didn’t mention Scarlet today was I already knew I would love it 🙂

    • Rae says:

      Thanks for the comment, Stephanie!
      A surprising read is the perfect descriptor. It’s hard to explain how it all works, but it’s fascinating when you’re immersed in it. SCARLET still surprised me a little, mostly in the format. I wasn’t expecting to spend time with new main characters and yet still enjoy it so much.

  6. I enjoyed these two books as well, although I loved Cinder a little more. I think it’s because I didn’t connect with Scarlet as much. She was too prickly in the beginning, but I did eventually warm up to her. I’m really looking forward to the next two books in the series! 🙂

    • Rae says:

      I was worried that Scarlet’s persistence would wear on me, but the intrigue with Wolf and the constant advancement of the story helped overcome that for me. I had originally thought this was a trilogy; I’m excited that there’s one more that I wasn’t expecting! 🙂

  7. Colin says:

    When I read CINDER last year, I was intrigued by the idea, but didn’t expect it to be as good as it is. I wasn’t really surprised that SCARLET is just as awesome! This is such a good series, and one that I, too, find myself recommending to anyone and everyone.

    We’re only half-way through the series, so it’s possible there’s more we’ve yet to learn about the Lunar powers. I’m happy to wait and see. And even if it’s a plot hole, when the story’s this good, it’s easy to forgive things like that. 🙂

    • Rae says:

      I’m thinking of it as something yet to be explained. The writing/worldbuilding has been amazing so far, and I trust that it will only get better.
      And I’m glad that you kept giving these a shout-out. It kept it on my radar until I got a chance to read them. They really did live up to the hype!

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