Great Reads for Teens and Tweens!

Helping you make an informed decision about that book

Cloaked in Red by Vivian Vande Velde

Title: Cloaked in Red

Author: Vivian Vande Velde

Publisher: Amazon Children’s Publishing         Year: 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0761457930

Genre: Fiction

Age: 11 and up

Themes / Subjects: Fairytale retelling

Plot Summary:

So you think you know the story of Little Red Riding Hood, the girl with the unfortunate name and the inability to tell the difference between her grandmother and a member of a different species? Cloaked in Red is a collection of eight twisted versions of Little Red Riding Hood with creepy personalities and situations that are created around the classic narrative and dialogue patterns.

My Take:

This book is BORING! Not only did it not hold my attention (I started two other books before I even got halfway) but if it weren’t for this blog/review I probably wouldn’t have finished it.

In the preface, she makes it clear that not only does she believe the story of Little Red Riding Hood is illogical, absurd and ultimately flawed, that it is full of generally dim nameless people making bad choices. Um, hello it’s a children’s fairytale and fairytales are chock full of the absurd which is one reason they are so popular.

I found Vivian Vande Velde’s humor to be extremely dry and not sarcastically funny as some other reviewers thought. And I usually like sarcastic humor. The stories were too short and as much as Velde puts down the illogical/absurdity of fairytales seems to draw quite a bit from other fairytales.

So what’s good about this book? In each of the short stories, Velde focused on a different character from the original story: the grandmother, Little Red, the woodcutter, Little Red’s mother, the wolf, and even the Red Riding Hood. While all these stories share a common theme, they are each separate and self-contained so you can easily pick the book up, read a story, and then read something else in between.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars. I think this might be a good book to keep in the bathroom. The stories of short enough that you could easily read on while doing some “paperwork.”

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Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Title: Cinder

Author: Marissa Meyer

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends      Year: 2012

ISBN-13: 978-0312641894

Genre: Science Fiction

Age: 12 and up

Themes / Subjects: Science Fiction & fantasy, fairytale retelling, dystopia, alternate worlds, Cinderella, family, friendship

Plot Summary:

Cinder is the best mechanic in New Beijing and a cyborg. Orphaned as a child after a terrible accident, doctors were able to save her life by replacing her foot and hand with metal ones. Despite being a medical miracle, cyborgs are looked down upon and considered second class citizens. Now sixteen-years-old she spends long days at a booth in the market repairing androids and portscreens then heads home to a cruel and loveless home ruled by an evil stepmother. Cinder’s two step-sisters couldn’t be more opposite; where Pearl is mean and just as evil as her stepmother, Peony is sweet and Cinder’s best human friend. One afternoon Prince Kair comes to the market to have Cinder fix his beloved android and immediately there is chemistry between them. But when Peony contracts the deadly plague letumosis for which there is no cure and Cinder gets caught in the middle of a political battle between two worlds, Cinder’s life changes drastically.

My Take:

Cinderella as a futuristic cyborg named Cinder? AWESOME! I had never heard of this book until I saw it on one of the shelves of the school book fair. How cool is that beautiful red high heel with a translucent leg and metal bones showing? As soon as I read the back cover I knew I had to read this book!

Marissa Meyer’s takes the well-known fairytale Cinderella and gives it an interesting futuristic/sci-fi twist. Although much of the book was predictable, I still found myself unable to stop reading as the suspense of the Lunar people and their Queen was built up. There is just the right amount of romance, heartache and humor to captivate all readers. While reading, it was a lot of fun to notice subtle tributes to the original Cinderella story such as the pumpkin-orange car and a loose foot that could possibly be left on the palace stairs.

My favorite and scariest parts of the book are Cinder and Prince Kai’s interactions with the Lunar people, especially Queen Levana, because Lunars have a special kind of “magic.” I won’t spoil it for you so go and read the book and find out for yourself!

Again, I have found myself in a predicament … this is the first book in the Lunar Chronicles series with the next books Sarcelt, Cress, and Winter not coming out until 2013, 2014 and 2015. UGH!! I hate waiting!! What happens next?

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars … the “twist” at the end of the story was predictable from the beginning otherwise a fun retelling of Cinderella

Similar read: A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce