The Monthly Review: Stars Above

Stars Above

Stars Above by Marissa Meyer

Published: February 2, 2016 by Feiwel & Friends

Pages: 369

Genre: YA Science Fiction, Fantasy

RATING:

5-stars

The enchantment continues….

The universe of the Lunar Chronicles holds stories—and secrets—that are wondrous, vicious, and romantic. How did Cinder first arrive in New Beijing? How did the brooding soldier Wolf transform from young man to killer? When did Princess Winter and the palace guard Jacin realize their destinies?

With nine stories—five of which have never before been published—and an exclusive never-before-seen excerpt from Marissa Meyer’s upcoming novel, Heartless, about the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, Stars Above is essential for fans of the bestselling and beloved Lunar Chronicles.

 

I loved The Lunar Chronicles. I know other people had their issues with it, saying the world wasn’t as fleshed out as it could be or there were slow parts, but I really did enjoy this series. Stars Above is a collection of short stories that focuses on each of the different characters, and it was a great way to close out the series.

Each of the characters throughout this series were well-crafted, and I loved them all—except Queen Levana of course (Fairest was so perfectly twisted, by the way). I was especially intrigued to read the first short story on Scarlet’s grandmother, Michelle Benoit. After reading that, Michelle’s fate becomes so much more poignant. The story about young Carswell Thorne in school had me laughing constantly. Each of the stories just gave me more background to the characters and more depth to the series as a whole.

I must say, that final story with the wedding had me up and running around like a madwoman at the end. There have been so many YA stories I’ve read where the final chapter makes me feel exhausted or not all that happy with the conclusion (Mockingjay or Allegiant, anyone?). Not this series. This is what I want when I read a book to escape reality. I want the characters I’ve shared a tumultuous journey with to have their happy ending. I want all the struggles and hard work to be worth it. I want them to have the biggest win they possibly can. Because, dang it, someone’s got to have a happy ending around here!

So, say what you will about this series. I loved it and will continue to recommend it. Go you, Marissa Meyer. Go you.

 

The Monthly Review: Calamity

CalamityCalamity by Brandon Sanderson

Published: February 16, 2016 by Delacorte Press

Pages: 421

Genre: YA Science Fiction, Fantasy

RATING:

4&half-stars

When Calamity lit up the sky, the Epics were born. David’s fate has been tied to their villainy ever since that historic night. Steelheart killed his father. Firefight stole his heart. And now Regalia has turned his closest ally into a dangerous enemy.


David knew Prof’s secret, and kept it even when Prof struggled to control the effects of his Epic powers. But facing Obliteration in Babilar was too much. Once the Reckoners’ leader, Prof has now embraced his Epic destiny. He’s disappeared into those murky shadows of menace Epics are infamous for the world over, and everyone knows there’s no turning back…


But everyone is wrong. Redemption is possible for Epics—Megan proved it. They’re not lost. Not completely. And David is just about crazy enough to face down the most powerful High Epic of all to get his friend back.
Or die trying.

 

If you haven’t read the first two books (Steelheart and Firefight) I suggest you get reading straight away. Seriously. Run to your library or local bookstore and check them out immediately. I gobbled up this series and the last book, Calamity, didn’t disappoint.

Since I’m reviewing the final book in a series, this review will generally cover the series as a whole. This story follows David, a young man obsessed with taking down taking down Epics (humans with powerful abilities who turned evil) ever since his father was killed by one when he was a boy. David is perhaps one of the most fun characters I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. He’s impulsive, loyal, humorous, and intelligent yet so oblivious in certain respects. And those metaphors, guys. The metaphors. The series is worth it for David’s mind-bending metaphors alone. They are so specific, utterly hilarious, and strange but tend to make perfect sense once he explains them. (i.e. “I’m like…well, I’m like a room-sized, steam-powered, robotic toenail-clipping machine.” She cocked an eyebrow. “I can basically do only one thing,” I explained, “but damn it, I’m going to do that one thing really, really well.”)

David is joined by a cast of other memorable characters, both friend and villain alike, that you root for or despise (certain ones even both!). The action is excellent. The settings are so unlike anything I’ve read, but I mean that in the best way possible. The series starts in Newcago—Chicago turned completely to steel—and ends up in a city made of salt that moves. That’s right. A city that inches along like a snail as it continually builds up and collapses in a cycle. It’s bizarre and intriguing and genius.

Then we have superpowers. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—I love superheroes, or in this case anti-superheroes. The powers throughout the series have been imaginative, entertaining, and mind-blowingly epic (pun intended). The complexity of Megan’s gift got overwhelming at times, along with some of the abstractness regarding weaknesses and abilities, but made for some serious cool battles.

I laughed so hard at times that I scared people nearby, and the battle sequences had my heart pounding. The down times in the book were interesting but on occasion felt a little slow (probably because of how intense the high moments were). I thought it concluded well enough but not all of my questions were answered, and I desperately wanted more story at the end to explore certain transformations (you’ll know what I mean once you read it). I wanted to be more pumped at the end and feel a sense of true conclusion. For instance, I ran around my house shouting incoherently with joy when I finished The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. After finishing Calamity, I was left quietly contemplating what it all meant—not disappointed as I have been with other stories but not entirely satisfied either. For these reasons I docked half a star.

In conclusion, The Reckoners series was a fun, fast-paced, beautifully written adventure of normal people fighting terrible powers and prevailing against all odds. Don’t be a slontze. Please read this series.