Top 5 Saturday: Retellings That Have Stuck With Me

Top 5 Saturday Retellings

The Top 5 Saturday weekly meme was created by Amanda at Devouring Books.

Rules!

  • Share your top 5 books of the current topic—these can be books that you want to read, have read and loved, have read and hated, you can do it any way you want.
  • Tag the original post (This one!)
  • Tag 5 people (I probably won’t do this bit, play along if you want)

The Upcoming Schedule Is:

5/9/20 — Books with a Number in the Title
5/16/20 — Books by Debut Authors
5/23/20 — Books about Plants/Flowers (Can be on cover, in title or plot)
5/30/20 — Books from a Male POV


The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

A Retelling of: Hamlet by some obscure playwright

The reason I didn’t call this list “My Favorite Retellings” or something like that is this novel. I didn’t really enjoy much of this one. But man, it was gorgeously written. Before I started this blogged, I wrote a little about it on Goodreads: “Meticulously crafted, wonderfully and intricately written, fantastic characters, a world you’d love to live in, imaginative, creative, a concept so great, so well executed…aaaaaand I had to force myself to read it. I took 3 breaks from this novel, and had to drag myself back to it each time. I feel like I owe this book 5 stars because it deserves them, but I really want to give it 1.75 or so. There is no reason at all that I shouldn’t like it—people should love this work, actually. But I just didn’t.” Still, nine years later, this is the first novel that lept to mind when I started this list and I have vivid memories of a lot of the book. Can’t beat that.


Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi

A Retelling of: Little Fuzzy by H. Beam Piper

An Avatar-esque story, that’s nowhere near as self-important and a whole lot more entertaining than the Cameron movie. Jack Holloway is a prospector on the planet Zarathustra who discovers a potentially sentient and language using species (that coincendentally are about the cutest things ever). Holloway has to figure out a way to keep the species from being wiped out by an uncaring corporation. This might actually be my favorite Scalzi novel.


Cinder by Marissa Meyer

A Retelling of: Cinderella

A YA SF re-imagining of the Cinderella story featuring a young woman with a cybernetic leg who attracts the attention of a Prince trying to help his people survive a plauge. It launches an epic series (also featuing re-tellings I could have filled this list with). I don’t know that the entire Lunar Chronicles series really delivered on the promise of this book, but I had a lot of fun with it. If you’re going to do a re-imagining, this is the way to do it.

* Jim C. Hines’ Princesses series also comes to mind at this point…maybe I should have included one of them…


Re Jane by Patricia Park

A Retelling of: Jayne Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Brontë’s novel is one of my All-Time Desert Island Top 5 novels, and I’m a sucker for a retelling of it. This one is set in NYC in the late 1990’s. Jane Re, is a half-Korean, half-American orphan who is hired to be the au pair for a Chinese adoptee. It’s Jane Eyre and more. As I said when I posted about it, it’s a clever re-imagining, and/or a satisfying read.


The Graveyard Book

A Retelling of: The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

I remember reading this to my kids years ago, and being very affected by it myself. It’s haunting, playful, creepy and heartwarming. A brilliant way to retell the story of an lone man-child in a very foreign atmosphere by beings not fit to raise one—and their efforts to help him fit in his native society.

Wires and Nerve, Volume 2 by Marissa Meyer, Stephen Gilpin

Wires and Nerve, Volume 2Wires and Nerve, Volume 2: Gone Rogue

by Marissa Meyer, Stephen Gilpin (Illustrations)
Series: Wires and Nerve, #2

Hardover, 324pg.
Feiwel & Friends, 2018
Read: March 30, 2018

I’m really not sure what to say about this one. It’s part two of the story begun in Wires and Nerve where Iko is tasked with hunting down rogue Lunar wolf warriors scattered over the Earth. We also see what reforms Cinder is bringing to the Lunar government and what happens to the rest of the main characters from The Lunar Chronicles following Winter.

Honestly, I think I’m going to just copy and paste from the last book, because this is really just part 2 of that same story and my comments stay the same:

The Lunar wolf warriors are not just going to roll over, there are some that are preparing to strike back against Iko — and Cinder.

Throw in a love story, an examination of Iko’s true nature, and some nice catch-up with our old friends, and you’ve got yourself a fun story. It’s fun, but it’s light. If it were prose instead of a graphic novel, it might take 40 pages to tell this story. Which doesn’t make it bad, just slight.

I was shocked to see a different artist credited with this one — maybe my memory is shakier than I realized, but man…I thought it was the same stuff. Gilpin did a great job keeping the look the same. Yeah, cartoonish — but it fits the story. It’s dynamic, eye catching and fun — just what Iko’s story should be.

I’m glad I read these two, but I hope Meyer walks away from this world now to focus on whatever’s next. Read this if you read the first. If you’re curious about what happens after Winter, these two are a fun way to scratch that itch, but totally unessential.

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3 Stars
2018 Library Love Challenge

Wires and Nerve, Volume 1 by Marissa Meyer, Douglas Holgate

Wires and Nerve, Volume 1Wires and Nerve, Volume 1

by Marissa Meyer, Douglas Holgate (Art)
Series: Wires and Nerve, #1

Hardcover, 238 pg.
Feiwel & Friends, 2017

Read: March 1, 2017


So, in the months following Winter, life has progressed as one would expect — Cinder has strengthened her position on the Moon, Scarlet’s returned to the farm with Ze’ev Kesley, and Cress and the Captain are touring Earth. One of the loose strings that Meyer left hanging was the fate of the Lunar military troops all over Earth. They’re still out there, causing trouble.

Cinder can’t send any troops down — in the aftermath of a failed invasion, the optics alone would be bad. But . . . she can send a single operative, and Iko nominates herself for that. She spends weeks taking out pack after pack, helping local authorities take them into custody.

But they’re not just going to roll over, there are some that are preparing to strike back against Iko — and Cinder.

Throw in a love story, an examination of Iko’s true nature, and some nice catch-up with our old friends, and you’ve got yourself a fun story. It’s fun, but it’s light. If it were prose instead of a graphic novel, it might take 40 pages to tell this story. Which doesn’t make it bad, just slight.

The art was . . . oh, I don’t know — cartoonish? Not in a bad way, but I see why some people I know weren’t impressed. Once I got used to it (after about 30-40 pages), I even kind of liked it.

Basically, I’m saying that the book was okay — I enjoyed it, but man, I wanted more. At the same time, I think it delivered everything that Meyer and Holgate were looking for, so I can’t complain. Fans of the series may enjoy it, but it’s not a must read. People who haven’t read the books had best avoid it — but should probably go back and read the novels.

—–

3 Stars
2017 Library Love Challenge

Winter by Marissa Meyer

WinterWinter

by Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles, #4

Hardcover, 824 pg.
Feiwel and Friends, 2015

Read: January 19 – 22, 2016

So, the first book I really blog about is the conclusion to the tetralogy — not the best way to go about it, but it’ll have to do.

Primarily because I started this blog after I’d read the first two books in this series, and only slightly due to laziness, I’ve only blogged about one other of The Lunar Chronicles — the “.5” preceding this one, Fairest. Which makes this a little hard to do, but not that much. Basically, what Meyer has done is combining and intertwining the stories about Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Snow White; removing the magic, inserting computers, cybernetics, and space ships; and setting the entire thing in a future where Earth and the Moon are on verge of war. Couple that with Meyer’s voice and skill? This series is a crowd pleaser.

During Part I, I felt like The Grandson in The Princess Bride, “Is this a kissing book?” There was just so much smooching, significant looks, and avowals of affection that it got close to annoying. That said, it was so nice reading a YA book where (almost) everyone was open and honest about their attractions and (almost) everyone had their feelings reciprocated. Those that weren’t that open might as well have been, they were all pretty horrible at keeping things secret. Over all, it was sweet, it was cute, it was like a fairy tale.

What are the odds, right?

But after that? A great mix of character moments and action. On the one hand, Meyer takes her time setting things up — but on the other hand — she doesn’t have to take time and introduce anyone knew this time. All the players are known quantities, the relationships are set up between all of them, and there are two major goals at work — Stop Levana, or Stop Cinder. Everything else is frosting.

Clear directions, clear motives, it’s a crisp, well-paced adventure story at this point — yeah, there’s a little politics, there’s a little subterfuge — but basically, it’s “Let’s raise an army and storm the castle.” Which doesn’t mean everything’s a cake walk, of course. There’s some tension, real hardships and peril — am I allowed to say that there were a couple of times when thing seemed pretty Grimm?

This is based on a fairy tale, and that needs to be borne in mind as you read it. That being said, Meyer makes it very easy to forget that and by the time that the part of Winter that was the most-Snow White-y, I’d forgotten that’s what this novel was about. You’d have thought between a. the cover, and b. the time I’ve spent in the world of Indexing lately, I’d have seen it coming. But I didn’t until I was right in the middle of the scene — which made it much more effective for me.

Meyer is great with her characters, and you can get attached to even those we meet for the first time in these pages — for those who’ve been around since the beginning? Hate to say good-bye to them, especially Iko the android. In the end, I think this is one of the more emotionally satisfying series conclusions I’ve read recently.

—–

4 1/2 Stars

Fairest by Marissa Meyer

How’s this for embarrassing? As I typed this up, I noticed I hadn’t blogged about the previous volume in the series, Cress. Man, I hate that.

—–

FairestFairest

by Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles,#3.5

Hardcover, 222 pg.
Feiwel & Friends, 2015
Read: April 25, 2015
Most of the time, when I see a .5 in a series, it’s a 30-70 page tale to fill in a narrative gap, or keep the fan base appeased, or something that doesn’t come across as unintentionally offensive. Leave it to Meyer to toss in a 200 page .5 instead.

So ever wonder what turned The Lunar Chronicles Queen into the evilest royal this side of the Brothers Grimm? Yeah, me either. But, Meyer answers the unasked question. From her horrible childhood to her mortifying adolescence to her even worse adulthood (aside from ruling the Moon), this book takes us through the Levana’s development — descent? — while planting all the seeds we need to see how the events of Cinder etc. are set in motion.

At the end of the day, I didn’t need this book. Sure, it humanized Levana a bit, but the Chronicles doesn’t demand that (well, I might be wrong on that front — I might revise this after I read Winter). But, it was a quick read. It was interesting enough to see the wheres, whys, and hows behind the Moon’s approach to Earth. It kept my interest, and more than once, I forgot I was reading a prequel. That’s a plus in my book.

—–

3 Stars

Saturday Miscellany — 2/8

Odds ‘n ends over the week about books and reading that caught my eye. You’ve probably seen some/most/all of them, but just in case:

    This Week’s New Releases I’m Excited About and/or You’ll Probably See Here Soon — with a side of being annoyed with myself:

  • Cress by Marissa Meyer — the latest in the SF/Fairy Tale mashup series. This one snuck up on me — I’m #58 on my library’s reserve list. siiiiigh
  • Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch — Argh. I know I pre-ordered this months ago. I know it. Just can’t prove it. Should’ve been reading it by now. Anyhow, this Apprentice Magician/British Policeman series is great, so looking forward to this one.