Lists

My Top Six Anime Songs of 2016

I’ve watched a decent amount of anime this year, and every time I hear a song in one I love, I listen to it on repeat for hours and hours over a few months.  So, I thought it would be fun to do a list of my top anime songs that I heard this year, and can’t stop listening to.  These aren’t necessarily songs from anime that came out in 2016, but just from shows that I’ve watched this year that I really love.  So, in no particular order, my top 6 anime songs of 2016!

 

The Day -My Hero Academia Opening

 

I don’t really listen to this one that much, but whenever I’d hear it as the opening for this anime, I always enjoyed it.  Sometimes you just skip to the episode, but not with this song:  It set the tone for My SHero Academia really well, and whenever I hear the song I go “Oh yeah, I forgot how awesome it was!” and that is why it made it onto this list.

 

Dare Ka, Yumi Wo -Zankyu No terror Ending

 

As soon as I heard this song, I fell in love.  It strikes that perfect balance of melancholy and atmosphere that I adore in songs.  Look up the translation of the lyrics, and man does it fit the show so well.  It was a perfect backdrop to what I thought was a well-crafted story, really matched the pacing of it well.  I don’t listen to this one as much as others on this list, but every time I hear it it moves me so much, I had to add it on the list.

 

Blumenkranz – Insert Song from Kill La Kill

 

Ugh this one was so hard to pick.  I honestly could have put Ambiguous or Before my Body is Dry in this slot too, but whenever I want to jam out to a KLK song, it’s this one.  An amazing base line, with a hypnotic melody, that just always gets me singing along and jamming out every time.  I really love the forcefulness of the tune, as well, like in context of the show it’s just so “You will bow down to me, submit or die” and that sounds so weird but if you’ve seen the show you get what I mean XD it’s really empowering in a way, I think that’s majorly due to the structure of the song.  I’ll stop there, because I can honestly gush about this track for hours, hands down my favorite track from this OST.

 

Heavenly Blue – Aldnoah.Zero Opening 1

 

Aldnoah.zero as an anime has a lot of issues, especially in it’s second half.  What doesn’t have issues, however, is its OST.  Particularly this track.  I’m a sucker for any Kalifina song, and when I saw they were singing this I squeed with joy.  Nothing new from Kalifina, honestly, it’s their same style of music for sure.  I just really, really love them, so always listen to this song and any song they do.

 

The Hero -One Punch Man Opening

 

This one is super weird for me, because I watched one episode of One Punch Man, and got super bored.  The opening song though?  A high octane, power rock ballad that from the opening “One puuuuunch!” gets you pumped and on your feet, ready to beat the bad guys and fight crime!  From beginning to end, this song keeps its energy up and is just so enjoyable to listen to, that I find myself doing so any time I need an energy boost, or whenever I want to indulge in some awesome rockitude.  Maybe I’ll try and watch the anime again someday…

 

History Maker – Yuri On Ice Opening

 

“Can you hear my heart beat?  Tired of feeling never enough.  Close my eyes and tell myself that my dreams will come true”

 

Those first few lines are so poignant, so perfect, so fractured yet so whole. Ugh, this song.  It pulls at my heart strings so much!  It does what Yuri on Ice as a show does, focuses on a character, and nails delivering the struggles of that character.  I always hear this song from Yuuri’s point of view, and honestly it’s so relatable to me from a lyrical stand point, because it’s something I struggle with often (minus the ice skating bits, of course).  Beautiful lyrics and a simple, catchy beat make this song one that I will be listening to for a long time.

 

And those are my top songs of my anime watching for 2016.  What are your favorite songs from any show you’ve watched this year?

Video Games

Gotta Capitalize on ‘Em All! A Pokemon Generations Overview

This year has been going so slow, that it’s hard for me to believe that it’s still Pokemon’s 20th anniversary.  Because of that, we’ve gotten a lot of Pokemon media this year:  Pokemon Sun and Moon, Pokemon Go, and Pokemon Generations, a series of 18 shorts posted on Pokemon’s YouTube Channel that are meant to expand on the game world of the Pokemon universe.  When first announced, this series said it was going to show us what characters in the video game universe were doing while you, as the main character were going on their journey.  A very interesting, and intriguing concept.  I was really excited for it when I heard that was the premise, because I’m a sucker for good world building and expanding pre-existing universes.  Plus, with the success of the Pokemon Origins mini-series a few years back, I was really anxious to see the games much darker universe brought to life in animated form again, since Pokemon Origins is my favorite piece of Poke-animated media.
Pokemon Generations recently posted its last episode, and I have reluctantly been watching every episode as it was posted.  Now, I’m not one of those die hard Pokemon fans:  I was into it as a kid, which if you grew up in the 90s was inevitable.  I haven’t really played a game since Ruby and Sapphire, but I figured that wasn’t a big deal because I’ve watched Let’s Plays of other games in the series and the like.  Besides, it was going to expand on the universe, not just rip scenes from the games and animate them, right?

 

Wrong!  To my dismay, practically every episode is just an animated version of something that happened in game.  Or, the “seeing what a character was doing while you were on your journey” was something you could deduce, or something that literally seemed like it was happening 2 seconds before you showed up.  Honestly, I kept on watching because I was hoping we’d see some sort of expanse of the Pokemon Universe, but I think there were maybe…3?  Episodes that did anything close to what the original premise of the series said it was going to do.  It was majorly disappointing for me.  To be completely honest, if the episodes weren’t five  minutes or less, I wouldn’t have continued watching.  It’s just a concept that had so much potential, but the fan service aspect of it seemed to take over and was nothing more than rehashing of popular scenes from the game.

 

Another thing that erked me was the amount of showing, not telling in pretty much all of the shorts.  Other than the shorts that had voice over narration to them, the majority had scarce dialogue, no indications of characters via name dropping, and most of the time I had to figure out what was going on in the short by going through the comments section of the video.  This was especially present in the more battle heavy videos, where most of the time characters were like “Attack!” then flashy battle sequences would happen, lots of sound effects, then episode ended.  Once again, I realize this is for Pokemon fans, and by watching they probably will know who is who and what scene from the game is happening, but there just was such a lack of any sort of audio queues in most of the  shorts it was not as enjoyable to me as it probably was to sighted viewers.

 

All in all, Pokemon Generations was a very polarizing experience for me.  I wanted to like it so much, but what they originally said they were going to deliver to us wasn’t what we got, and was really nothing more than a way to get some Pokemon fanservice out there.  For any non-visual fan, You’ll probably be lost unless you heavily know the source material.  When they had episodes about the generations I knew more about, I could easily catch onto what was going on but as the series continued into uncharted territory I felt more and more disconnected from the material.  And I think that’s the best way I can put this series:  It was alright, nothing mind blowing, a bit alienating.  I’d say watch it anyways if you just have time to kill, because each episode is five or less minutes. Just not the web series for me, I guess.

 

What did you think of Pokemon Generations?  Missed opportunity, or did it make your inner Pokemon Trainer squee.

Books

Cress: The Lunar Chronicles Book 3 Review (Spoilers)

The official book cover of Cress: The Lunar Chronicles, Book 3

I’ve been churning through this book series like a mad woman, and have been enjoying every minute of doing so.  It doesn’t mean the series is flawless, by any means, but I realized after reading a particular chapter why I like this series so much, flaws and all.

 

I can’t talk about this book without major spoilers, and there is one subject I really want to address that is a major spoiler that I will be tagging with a header later.  If you don’t want to read that section, then you can just hop on over it to the next section.  Anything majorly spoiler-y will be in that Section, so you don’t have to worry about anything else being majorly spoiler-y if you prefer spoiler free reviews.
Now with all of that out of the way, here we go!

 

Plot summary

 

In this third audiobook in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and prevent her army from invading Earth. Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl trapped on a satellite since childhood who’s only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s being forced to work for Queen Levana, and she’s just received orders to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice. When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is splintered. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a higher price than she’d ever expected. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai, especially the cyborg mechanic. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has. – From Audible

 

World Building

 

Not much to say in this section this time.  The book mainly took place in a desert, and it was really just an expanse of sand with minor bouts of technology.  This book focused a lot more on characters, and other than seeing a bit of Luna the settings have all been visited before.  Was nice to head back to some more familiar settings, and it’s a great way to get us to the final book that will be on uncharted territory.

 

Plot Progression/Pacing

 

Oy the pacing in this was rough for me.  Like, don’t get me wrong:  I loved the characters, so much and reading their conversations was so fun.  But, we spend so much time dealing with plots that can be resolved a lot more quickly than they were that it baffles me why this book was so long.  It got majorly frustrating, because the group gets separated for basically the entire book and I think they work way better as a unit that can bounce off of each other, so until they all got back together I pretty much was just reading until I got to…when they all were together again.  There are plays at trying to make sections more intense by drawing them out over a few chapters, but the general format of 3 chapters for one plot, one or two for the next plot then bouncing back to the main plot really wonked up the pacing in this one, because instead of 2 plots like in Scarlet we had four going on and it just seemed like a bit much for me.

 

Characters

 

Scarlet, my baby!  Something happens to her in this book and I was just like Noooooooo!!!  And Wolf, my other baby!  Ugh what he went through in this book, my poor heart!  Cinder makes a stupid decision within the first ten chapters of the book, and it messes everything up that she has to fix.  What I love about this, though, is that Cinder isn’t a Mary Sue, and has flaws that she knows about, and addresses in this book because of her mistakes.  I loved how she finally got to the point where she is doing what she has to do to survive, and isn’t apologizing for it anymore:  she’s really grown a lot, her hero’s journey has been super enjoyable.

 

This book put all of my gripes about Cinder to rest, I really enjoyed how she was in this book.

 

Kai was…there.  Can you tell I don’t particularly like him?  He works fine when he’s with Cinder, but when he’s alone I don’t care for him.  They are a cute couple, and I was glad to see them together again but nothing beats Scarlet and Wolf!

 

Iko is adorable.  I know some people may find her annoying, but I just think she’s so cute and funny and lightens up the tension in an otherwise serious book.  She stays the same throughout the story, but I like her a lot regardless so no complaints here!

 

Cress is a little ray of sunshine, she’s so freaking adorable!  I really relate to her struggles, being socially awkward but having to fight through it, and she did it in a really realistic way.  I like her and Thorn, they were super cute in scenes together.  I just don’t get why everyone needs to pair off into a romantic relationship, but I guess it is a YA novel so that is to be expected.  Winter is so quirky, she reminds me of a character from Alice and Wonderland (but the nice kind of character) and the one chapter we got with her in it was a nice lead in to the fourth book.

 

I can’t stand Jason, we’ll see if that changes in the next book.  But so far he just irritates me and all he really served in the book was to be a replacement pilot for my baby T_T

 

This Section is Full of Spoilers!!! Hop to the Writing Section if you don’t want to read!!!

 

Ok so, I wasn’t expecting this at all, but one of the characters is blinded in this book!  So I wanted to critique how the blindness was handled, since you know, I’m a blind nerd XD

 

Meyer really did her research, I am happy to say.  The character went through all of the natural stages of losing their sight, just more quickly because they were in a life or death situation.  But the initial shock, feeling like a burden, then realizing it’s not so bad was all there.  The other characters around him didn’t treat him differently than before, but adapted to him as best as they knew how and didn’t exclude him from any of their plans (partially because he wouldn’t let them, which is another well portrayed thing blind people have to do).  Cress was his eyes the entire book, and I love how they wound up working together all throughout the story.  At times, I thought maybe they were going the “My blindness doesn’t make me any different” trope, but when I looked closer at it, that wasn’t the case.  He was using sighted guide, had a cane made that  he used, and still was fighting and helping everybody in the group.  Marissa Meyer really did her research!  I’m a little sad to see his blindness won’t be lasting, but Since this world is futuristic, of course they have easy fixes to cure blindness so it makes sense that the blindness can be cured and it’s not a magical cure or anything.

 

Writing

 

The end of Doctor Erland’s story arc literally made me cry.  I know you don’t know how big that is, but I never cry!  This is what I was talking about earlier:  Because the writing may have some flaws, the pacing may be off at times, but when it comes down to it, Meyer writes really dynamic characters you feel for, and are rooting for, and no amount of plot discrepancies’ is going to stop me from wanting to see where all of the characters stories end.  This book was far more a character piece than anything else, which is where I think Meyer’s writing shines.  Since I’m all about character development, this is totally ok with me and it was really awesome to read everyone’s internal and external struggles in this book.  That Erland story though, ugh.  So great!

 

Final Thoughts

Cress raises the stakes significantly in The Lunar Chronicles, which is understandable considering it’s the second to last book in the series.  Scarlet’s plot really annoyed me, but more because I love her and I wanted her in the book way more than she was.  If you want some masterful literary piece of art, this isn’t the series for you.  But if you want engaging characters, an interesting enough plot, and an epic scifi story, definitely read this series.  I’m so annoyed I’m not getting another audible credit until next month, I want to read Winter now!  But I guess it’s for the best, because if I had Winter I would just be reading it and getting nothing else done XD

 

As always, would love to hear your thoughts on this book below!

Books

Scarlet: The Lunar Chronicles, Book 2 by Marissa Meyer Full Book Review

The official Book cover of Scarlet: The Lunar Chronicles, Book 2

Disclaimer:  Minor Spoilers for This book in the review.

 

Wow, just wow.  Talk about meeting, and beating expectations.  Book 2 of The Lunar Chronicles is everything I wanted and more out of Book 1.  Honestly, It feels like this book would be a lot better as the first book in the series, but now I see why Cinder was so slow paced and why it took the time to build itself up, may it be slow paced or not.  Does Scarlet hold up as a stand-alone story, as well as work as a good bridging point to book 3 in The Lunar Chronicles?  Let’s find out.

 

Plot summary

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the best-selling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison – even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive. Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life.

When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner. – From Audible

 

World Building

This time, we take a break from the Eastern commonwealth, and head on over to Europe.  France, to be exact.  I really liked the contrast between rural France and Parris shown in this:  The futuristic technology being present in Riau, but not used as much as in the big city because the citizens are still farmers and the like.  I think it was a smart choice to have Scarlet take place here as well, due to how much more intense both Scarlet and Wolf are as characters as opposed to Kai and Cinder:  Having rural France as their back drop, it played a part as a character as well I feel, and added great depth to the characters that the bustling and busyness of New Beijing couldn’t have offered to them.  It was a wonderful backdrop to the story, while being an active presence all its own, which is always a joy to read in any story.
Marissa Meyer built upon the world she started crafting in Cinder, and honestly I much preferred the Europe setting in this book than New Beijing in the previous book.  That may also have something to do with liking the characters in Scarlet a lot more than in Cinder though, which I’ll get to a bit later.

 

Plot Progression/Pacing

The pacing in Scarlet was perfect.  We were bouncing between two plots (Scarlet’s and Cinder’s) and the lull in activity I felt occurred in the middle of Cinder was non-existent here.  Both plots were really interesting and dynamic, and although there was a bit of predictability it didn’t bother me as much because everything I couldn’t figure out was just so interesting.  My only complaint would be the random chapters we’d get spotlighting Kai.  I get that he’s going to be a major player later, and what happened to him is moving the plot forward, but I just really wish we didn’t have to have full chapters focused on him.  There was a Cinder chapter where we found out what was going on with Kai through her eyes, and I thought that method of showing him was a lot better than him having dedicated chapters to himself.  But, once again, it may have bothered me more because I was so much more interested in Cinder and Scarlet, that whenever a Kai chapter popped up I just was like “Ugh no, I want to know what’s happening to Cinder or Scarlet!”.
The plot was really well handled.  In this book, we had two different main plots going on.  Scarlet and Wolf trying to find Scarlet’s Grandmother, and Cinder and Thorn escaping from prison.  Both plots were really enjoyable, filled with character development, intrigue, and well-crafted mystery that worked well.  The way that Cinder and Scarlet’s stories merged to form one cohesive plot was great, and the entire book was so great that I marathon read the second half of the book in one night.  And, the problem I had with Cinder, where the end of the story was so non-conclusive wasn’t in this one either.  We got a story that ended in this book, but we also got enough to propel the series forward, with added characters to boot.  Just a wonderful, wonderful job from Marissa Meyer, I definitely think her writing and pacing jumped up in quality majorly this book!

 

Characters

The characters, oh man, the characters!  This is the section I was most excited to talk about, because once again the main characters are leaps and bounds more interesting than Cinder and Kai were in the first book.  Scarlet is everything I wanted from Cinder:  A blunt, no nonsense, passionate, out spoken girl I adored from page 1.  She’s allowed to have flaws, and the book doesn’t fault her for it:  She often rushes into danger if it means she will be able to help someone she cares about, which is both a pro and con for her character.  I love how she is able to move Cinder into action, and help Cinder’s character grow into what I wanted it to be in book one, and it made me realize that Cinder’s growth is going to span over the next 3 books in the series, and I’m honestly ok with that.
Speaking of, Cinder grew a lot in this book.  She had to out of necessity, and it was really interesting to see how she was dealing with certain things in the story.  She still had a lot of wishy-washy bits, but looking at it now as a girl who’s life has been turned upside down, and her having to adapt to a new role in life, she’s a bit more sympathetic than in Book 1.  And, her decision at the end of the book was a huge leap in her character, it was nice to see her decide what she wanted to do and I’m excited to see how her story will progress in Cress.
Remember how I mentioned Cinder needed a good foil to be interesting?  She has that now in Thorn.  I freaking love Thorn:  He’s eccentric, charming, egotistical but you can tell there is so much depth under that guise when he helps Cinder cope with certain things in the story.  He’s not solely comic relief, he’s also the more decisive of the duo and I just loved when Thorn took action when Cinder was uncertain of doing so.

 

He’s the comic relief in the story, but not in an annoying way at all:  He helps Cinder stay focused, and level headed, and the two of them together is really fun.  I don’t think Cinder would have been nearly as interesting without Thorn as her foil, and their chapters were just so awesome and fun to read.

 

 

And finally, we have Wolf rounding out our leads.  Which all I have to say is, AHHHH Wolf!  He’s sooooo amazing, I love him so much!  Him and Scarlet work so well together:  They both balance each other out.  Wolf is so loyal, so mysterious, but ugh so protective and even though they want Kai to be the perfect Prince Charming, I find Wolf fits that role way more.  Because he’s allowed to have flaws and grow from them, he’s allowed to act, and react to things.  He’s allowed to grow because of the people around him.  His storyline is so fantastic, his character is so amazing I can’t put it into words, and Wolf and Scarlet is 100 percent my OTP, they are perfect together!  (I know this last paragraph is so fangirly, but honestly you really have to read the book to get the full experience of how amazing Wolf is).

 

The villain’s in this book are a lot more interesting than Queen Levana, but I don’t really want to spoil anything in regards to them because it wasn’t even something I saw coming.  Just know that they have that nice balance of being evil, but not pointlessly so:  They have clear goals and motivations, and do have a sense of dangerousness when they’re in chapters, which is something I didn’t find present when Queen Levana was there.

 

Writing

Marissa Meyer stepped up her writing game majorly in this book, for sure.  I was able to envision characters movements, certain scenes, how characters looked.  I was fully invested in the pros because the characters and plot were way more thought out to me than in Cinder.  I was hooked to the beginning, middle, and end and there was never an off moment, even though there were sections I didn’t like (the Kai chapters).  All in all, a great job!

 

Final Thoughts

When I was reading Cinder, it felt like that book solely existed to set up the world of The Lunar Chronicles.  After reading Scarlet, I hold to that theory:  This book strikes the perfect balance of building The Lunar Chronicles world, while having a plot all on its own that blends everything Cinder was setting up for the series perfectly.  Seriously, read Cinder to get to Scarlet, even if you found Cinder a bit of a dull read, Scarlet 100 percent makes up for it.
If you wanted to jump straight to Scarlet, I think it would be highly possible:  The narrative repeats all of the important plot points that happened in Cinder you’ll need to understand the universe.  However, I’d read Cinder anyways, just to get a better grasp on Cinder as a character, so you can appreciate her growth throughout the series a lot more than just hopping to this one.
Scarlet already is a fully fleshed out character, and it seems more like we’ll be seeing her and Wolf grow together as a couple.  Which, I am so so so so so happy about, because like I said earlier AHHHH Scarlet and Wolf OTP!  I am so excited to start Cress and see where their story goes.  I really hope we get them together in the next books, they work so well off each other and are just so perfect!

 

If it wasn’t obvious, I highly recommend this book.  All of the flaws in Cinder aren’t apparent anymore, and it’s a really lovely read from start to finish.  I already bought myself a copy of Cress, can’t wait to get started on it and gush..I mean review that one to!

 

Have you read Scarlet or The Lunar  Chronicles?  Would love to know some of your favorite characters and moments from the books!

Books

Cinder: The Lunar Chronicles, Book 1 Full Review

The Official Book cover to Cinder: Lunar Chronicles, Book 1

 

I finished this book in four days, and overall I really liked it.  However, it had some ups and downs, and I couldn’t quite figure out why this novel was just a good read to me, and not an amazing read, because it ticks all of the boxes of stories I usually love.  Alternate fairy tales?  Check.  Scifi/fantasy setting?  Check.  Good characters?  Check.  But instead of going on in this section, let’s get on to the review!

 

Plot Summary

 

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl….

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future. – From Audible

 

World Building

 

The first thing that struck me about Cinder is the world building.  It was obvious that the world and it’s setting were so well thought out.  Nothing seemed out of place.  Every piece of new technology made sense and was well fleshed out, and the progression of the world made sense.  I love that it takes place in a futuristic version of the Earth, and it’s main focus in this novel is on China, with mentions of Europe.  I thought it was a nice nod to where most fairy tales originate, and there were a lot of cute nods to Cinderella in general that were really fun to try and figure out what part of the story it was mirroring.  This is a steampunk setting done perfectly, and it’s the best part of the book in my opinion.

 

Plot and Pacing

 

The beginning of the book, like the first ten chapters, were amazing.  When it gets into Book 2 (The novels chapters are split up into 4 Books – ten chapters each) it started to lag.  I feel like because of how sparse  the original Cinderella fairy tale is, there were a lot of things that were added in as padding and development that were just a bit slow for my liking.  A good example of that for me, was all of the political setup that wasn’t focused on Cinder, and instead was focused on Prince Kai, the second protagonist and love interest in the story.  Those chapters were interesting enough, but also were the most dull to me and something I feel could have been either done in shorter chapters, or just hurried along a bit (we didn’t need a full chapter that was just an International Summit lol)

 

The middle section built the characters, and the world a lot, but I felt like instead of building on the story in the first novel, it was building towards the story for the over-arcing plot in the series.  That isn’t a bad thing, per see, but at times it felt like it detracted from Cinder’s story, instead of being information we needed for the later books in the series while adding to Cinder’s story.  I will say, that the last ten chapters did a great job of combining both Cinder’s story, and leading into the story in the next book, and I wish that had been present in the middle section of the novel.

 

Another major problem I had with the plot, is how predictable it was.  There are a few reveals later in the book that they dragged on, that I had figured out way before it was revealed.  As soon as they started dropping nuggets for you to try and solve the mystery in the story, I figured it out within a few paragraphs and overall that made the middle of the story really drag.  Perhaps if you didn’t realize where the story was going to be going with its big reveals, the middle would have been far more enjoyable.  I don’t know if it was because I’m used to this genre, and all of its tropes, or because of everything I already stated, but just something I figured I’d point out.

 

Characters

 

This is where I’m most torn.  As I said in my first impressions post, I really liked the characters, especially Cinder.  As the book went on, Cinder got more and more irritating to me at certain points.  Like, she would go from being this strong, stubborn, independent person on her own, then when she was actually confronted with something, she’d shy away from it, or hide.  The writing tried to pass it off as self-esteem issues, but it was just so jarring for me because of how frequently she’d go back and forth from being a strong character to a wishy-washy one.  She redeemed herself well in the last story arc, and I’m hoping she’s a bit less wishy-washy in the later books.  When she was staying true to how she was originally portrayed, I really enjoyed her and her development throughout the story was really nice (there were a lot of bits in the last half of the story where I was like oh yeah go Cinder!) so I won’t say she’s a poorly crafted character or anything, just that her growth could have gone a bit faster so it was more prevalent in the rest of the book.

 

The other characters were hit and miss, to be honest.  I loved Iko and Prince Kai, and I thought Doctor Erland’s story arc was probably the most interesting part of the supporting characters stories (though I predicted it early on).  I know we’re going off of fairy tales here, and the villains are usually one-dimensional in those, but Queen Levana is just so evil, it’s really frustrating.  I know she has a book telling her story, but it got to the point where she just seemed entirely too over powered, and her as the catalyst for certain plot points because oh hey she’s evil and nothing more made the story blander than it could have been.  I don’t mind an evil character that’s super evil, but I would like them to have depth without having to have a separate  novel to herself to see it.  That being said, I am really excited to get to her story down the line.  But maybe she’s more fleshed out in later books, and I’m just jumping the gun with my judgement here, we’ll see!

 

Writing

 

The writing was overall, very good.  I loved that because Cinder was a cyborg, and the story was being told from her POV most of the time, we got descriptors that fit that.  Instead of “she used her eyes” we’d get things like “her visual interface displayed” and it really brought home how Cinder felt, and how unnatural she was to the world she lived in.  There was a really good blend of fairy tale description, and modern story telling that made the story come to life.    Even though the middle of the story was a bit hard for me to get through, the writing never faltered.  It made me want to read the rest of the series, regardless of some of the books short comings.

 

Final Thoughts

 

Looking back at my thoughts on this, my main issue definitely was the pacing of this story.  The beginning was amazing, the end was amazing, but that middle section was just so slow paced, and didn’t really seem to add much to the story.  Instead of telling a story, or having a story arc in the middle, it just felt like every cog was moving towards setting up the ending of the series, or setting up the second book in the series, which is always a pet peeve of mine.  If a book is part of a multi-novel story, I’d like the books to be able to be read stand alone, which I think Cinder only does half way.  But if someone weren’t going to read the rest of the series?  I could see this book being a bit disappointing.  Did it do enough to make me want to read the rest of the series?  Definitely.  I’ve already started book 2, and so far it’s building on the first book well, and once again seems to be building to a bigger plot that’s in store for the characters.  I’m hoping we get more focus on the present, and not on fully setting up events that will take place later, however, but so far it’s been enjoyable, and I’m looking forward to seeing how this new mystery will unfold.

 

Even with all of my nit-picks and complaints, I would recommend this book.  It has a dynamic setting, really interesting ideas, and really fun and engaging characters.  If you like alternate fairy tale re-telling’s, steampunk, and just a really entertaining read I’d read this book!

 

What are your thoughts on Cinder?  Have you read The Lunar Chronicles series in its entirety?  Would love to know what you think in the comments!

Disney

Disney Deconstruction: Is Gaston Really All That Evil?

Welcome to Disney Deconstruction!  A series in which I’ll be taking a certain Disney movie, character, or trope and looking at it with a closer eye.  Think of this as a sort of fan theory/speculation, if you will.  Today’s question:  Is Gaston really all that evil?

 

 

Recently, an image for the live action Beauty and the Beast movie coming out in 2017 dropped, showing Belle (played by Emma Watson) rejecting Gaston (played by Luke Evans) when he was trying to gift her with a bouquet of flowers.  Without any context for this scene, it makes Belle look like a jerk.  But, according to cast interviews, they seem to be wanting to make Gaston a darker version of himself.  That’s all fine and dandy (it’s really not I kind of hate these live action remakes) but that got me thinking, was he really all that bad in the original movie?  Let’s take a closer look.

 

Gaston is one of the more interesting Disney villain’s, because we see his evolution into a villain throughout events in the movie.  Up to a certain point, he is a jerk, sure, but he doesn’t reach villain status until he decides he wants to have Belle at any cost, and uses committing her Father to an insane asylum as bait to get her to marry him.  Honestly, I think that’s his most villainess act.  Because what else had he done throughout the movie prior?  Asked Belle out on a date, all be it a bit forcefully, and then ask her to marry him, once again in a less-than-charming-way.

 

Gaston is a jerk, no debating that.  The climax of the movie, where I think he is the most portrayed as “villain” is my favorite song from the movie:

 

Let’s break this scene down, though.  Belle had just returned from the Beasts castle.  Before she had returned, however, they were dealing with Belle’s Father ranting and raving about a beast who had taken his daughter, and that they needed to go save Belle before he did something terrible to her.  The townspeople ignored him until they had proof via the magic mirror, and the image they see of the Beast?  Him snarling and generally acting like a monster.  So what does Gaston, the towns huntsman and hero do?

 

“Let’s go kill the Beast!”
You can argue that Gaston is only protecting his people, the woman he wants as his wife from this creature he just recently found out existed.  Knowing that the Beast not only exists, but that Belle’s Father’s rantings were true and he was holding Belle captive, would only make him want to protect her more.  Granted, when Belle is talking to Gaston about the Beast and he goes “Why Belle, I think you love him” that definitely is a spark of jealousy there, but is it a spark of jealousy based on good intentions?  Does he simply want to kill the Beast to protect the people he loves, that love him in return?  Or was this rampage only based on jealousy, lust, wanting something that he couldn’t have.

 

…Ok, probably the latter.

(As a side note, Beast going “Get out” is so badass)

 

Instead of a straight up villain, I like to think of Gaston as more of a mirror.  Because at the beginning of the movie, we see both Beast and Gaston are very similar.  Both are entitled, selfish, and unwilling to change their mindsets.  It takes Belle interacting with the Beast, and his willingness to change for him to transform back to his human self, and become a different person.  Gaston, on the other hand, has the same amount of time to spend with Belle (probably even longer, because she had been living in the town for a while) but instead of changing, stays the way he is because everyone around him not only accepts his behavior, but praises it.  They both have the same type of hero’s journey, with Gaston’s tale being a tale of caution, and the Beasts tale being one of growth, and reflection.

 

I don’t think Gaston is someone to see as a villain, but is someone to pity.  He had everything going for him, if only he was able to think a bit more of others, and not himself.  He’s a person that can exist in reality, someone you could easily meet in your life and those are the types of villain’s I adore because they already have a layer of dimension to them.

 

It seems like the live action movie is going to be exploring that a bit more, and I’m hoping they do that well.  Because from the trailers I’ve seen so far, this movie is going to be a rough ride.

 

What do you think of Gaston?  Am I on to something, or just talking crazy talk.  What are your thoughts about the live action movie coming out next year?

Books

Cinder: Lunar Chronicles, Book 1 First Impressions

I haven’t read novels for a long time.  I used to read a lot, both as a kid and as an adult but my reading has veered more towards the fanfiction variety in the past few years.  After reading a book review, however, it made me realize that I was missing something, just reading fanfics.  I was missing reading books!

 

I think the last time I read a book was in 2010.  Such a long time, I know, so I wanted to rectify that, and start a new campaign to read novels.  My preferred genre is fantasy, so I’ll primarily be reading those fantasy book series’ I’ve missed.  What’s up first?

The Official Book cover to Cinder: Lunar Chronicles, Book 1

 

Cinder:  The Lunar Chronicles, Book 1.  I’ve heard so many good things about this series, and I’m only four chapters in but so far they are all so true.  Here are my first impressions:

 

  • – Cinder is so amazing.  So far, she strikes a great balance between being sassy and strong, but having vulnerability, and overall just being a multi-layered character.
  • – I love all of the supporting characters! Iko is adorable, and Pianie is already so fun.  Both are great foils to Cinder’s matter-of-fact personality.
  • – The world building is fantastic.  It really feels like a whimsical world, infused with all of this cyber punk technology.  It feels like the natural progression of a fairy tale world, if a fairy tale world became technologically advanced.
  • – I love the narrator on this book. I decided to download it from Audible, and I forgot how much fun it was to have audio books on while you’re doing something, or while you’re going to relax.  I signed up for a free trial, and so far I’m glad I signed up for it again because I’m thoroughly enjoying my trek back into reading.
  • The pacing in this book is so great. There is no sense of information dumping, because we find out information through the natural progression of scenes and character dialogue.

I’m so interested to see where this story is going to be going, so far, I’ve enjoyed every part I’ve read!  I’m so glad that I chose this series to start with, so far it’s been a joy to read.  I’ll definitely be back with a full review after I’m done with the book.  I know for sure I’m going to finish all four books in this series.

 

If you have any good novels to recommend, please tell me!  My preferred genres are paranormal, sci-fi, and fantasy, but I also love a good romance.  It floored me how many good fantasy novels were recommended to me on Audible just from clicking on The Lunar Chronicles, so I honestly can’t wait to read soooo many more books next year!