Monday, June 10, 2013

Ain't no Cinderella like Cyborg Cinderella, or, Marissa Meyer knows what folktales are about

I don't usually write book reviews, so when I do you know it is because I have completely devolved into a squealing fangirl. So, this is me squealing.

I burned through Cinder and Scarlet in a single flight from the USA to Hungary and a long afternoon waiting to get my new passport. It was one of those rare and delightful reading experiences when the world can collapse around you, bombs can explode and flight attendants can ask for your attention and nothing gets through the haze of the book. Treasure those moments.
I am not going to tell you how amazing these books are. It's not that kinda book review. They are pretty darn good. In fact, if you ask for my personal opinion, they beat the Hunger Games out of the arena. So there.
What I would like to talk about, however, is the fact that Meyer's trilogy is an entire basket full of Easter eggs for storytellers like me.

(Talking about storytellers, the books were originally recommended to me by Janice del Negro, thank you for that!)

Many people who write "folktale adaptations" do so thinking that they are improving on traditional tales, making them up to date for modern times, modern audiences, 'giving them a twist'. Meyer, on the other hand, seems to take loving delight in playing with them, and does so with serious knowledge of the originals. She drops tiny details and references for people who share this interest just to make them gasp and giggle along the way when they discover another fairy tale clue.
And, at the same time, tells a story that is all of her own.

Cinder and Scarlet (and their sequels, Cress and Winter, which are coming out in the next two years and are already driving me nuts with the wait) are not only "fairy tale fiction" because they are based on Grimm. They are written like fairy tales. People tend to glide over what really makes fairy tales fairy tales. It's not the princesses, or the "happily ever after," not the Medieval setting. It's the story, the battle of good and evil, the adventures, the characters that we love and root for, and the villains that we hate. It's the high stakes, the quests of life and death, and the very dark places (you read that right, read the originals). It's the message and the moral, the layers upon layers of meaning, the symbols woven into the story.

Long story short: This writer knows what folktales are about.

And, finally, here is an additional benefit of these books being on the young adult market: finally something on the shelves that is not labeled "supernatural romance." Thank the Lord and Marissa Meyer for that.

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