Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles) – Marissa Meyer Review

Hi! I finished another book, holy crap! I’m like a five foot speed reading demon over here! I can’t help it, I absolutely LOVE this book series.

I just finished Scarlet which is the second book of five in the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. I told you guys about her first book, Cinder which is a futuristic, science fiction version of ye ole tale Cinderella.

The first book is basically about a young cyborg who is one of New Beijing’s most renowned mechanics. She’s so excellent at her job that she finds herself helping out the Prince just days before the royal ball. Unfortunately, The Plague gets in the way before the fairy tale can take on the usual story. The plot unfolds from there into all kinds of twists and turns, a lot of them sinister and creepy.

Well, let me say this: this series, although it’s technically for young adults, is not for kids. I would not recommend a young kid reading these. Throughout the first book and the second book, which I’ll get into in a minute, there are extremely graphic descriptions of situations, of how certain people look, of bloody battles, of death, of people dying of a horrible plague, basically just some kinda gross stuff. So if that’s not your thing, then maybe take that into consideration before reading it.

The second book, Scarlet, follows both Cinder and a French farmer named Scarlet. Cinder is on the run, and Scarlet is searching for her lost grandmother. Her grand-mère has disappeared – something that would never happen for this stubborn farmer. She would never have left her granddaughter, and yet – three weeks after she’s reported missing, no one is understanding just how serious this could be.9780312642969_fc

Michelle Benoit (grandmother) was an eccentric woman. She was different than the rest, and was often thought of as crazy and kooky, but to her granddaughter she was everything. So what does Scarlet do? She goes on a search for her, with the help of a random street fighter she just met named Wolf, who seems to have an idea of where she might be – and who might be keeping her.

Now when I was first reading this book, I was really enjoying it, but kinda thought that it was too much to go from one story following one character to the next book following two characters and two different stories. Granted, they meet up at the end, but when I first started it I didn’t know that.

However, I was so invested that I didn’t even care. This writer, Marissa Meyer, is phenomenal. She seems to write with the greatest of ease. I know from being a writer myself that writing about character’s different personalities is hard enough without making each chapter from a different perspective. That takes a lot of skill and a lot of care. There’s a lot that she could have done that would have made this series total crap just by having so many different stories going on at once, but she does it so seamlessly that I didn’t even mind.

I love the fact that Meyer takes all of these old fairy tales and turns them into something completely different. She takes the old Cinderella and turns it into this extreme fantasy world thats crumbling down, or Little Red Riding Hood and makes it a novel about these grotesquely animalistic humans. It’s just fantastic.

I could say so much more, but I think it’s probably safer of me to just stop there before I start giving away the whole story!

But I would definitely recommend this book. Anyone who has been here for a while knows that I’ve been reading at an extremely slow pace recently, and in 20 days I have finished two books that were either almost or over 400 pages. They’re fantastic books and it feels wonderful to get back into the swing of things.

So if you like fairy tales, you’ll love these books. If you like science fiction, you’ll love these books. If you like fantasy worlds, you’ll love these books. The only way you won’t love these books is if you don’t like stories that tie in dysfunctional relationships. Otherwise, go to your bookstore and buy these freakin’ books!!!!!

If you want to talk to me about any of these books, or if you have any questions or opinions, you can comment below or you can send me an e-mail at rachel@booksandcleverness.com. I’d be MORE than happy to talk to you about it!

Seriously – go get this book.

Until next time,

Rachel

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Cinder – Marissa Meyer… Just Read It!

I just finished the BEST book. I’ll preface this by saying that it is a young adult novel, but it really doesn’t read like one.

The book is called Cinder by Marissa Meyer. It’s a spin on, obviously, Cinderella. But unlike the fairy tale, this book does not have a happy ending.cinder_book_cover

Okay okay, I won’t spoil anything. But here’s some info:

So this book takes place in the future, after World War IV, in New Beijing. Cinder, a cyborg mechanic, lives in a world filled with plague brought on by the race of “Lunar” people on the moon. Much like when Europeans explored the new world and brought Smallpox, the Lunar people would escape the moon because of their tyrannical ruler Levana, and come to Earth, bringing new diseases that Earthen people were not used to – the plague is called Letumosis.

The whole of New Beijing is excited for the ball that Prince Kai is the special guest for – they’re even suspecting that he’ll find a new bride there! Cinder’s stepsister loves Kai. Poeny is one of Cinders best friends, and would do anything for her, despite the fact that her cruel mother and other stepsister don’t care anything about Cinder and even blame her for the death of Garan, the father of the girls and husband of Adri.

As a very well known and renowned mechanic, even though she is only 16, she gets the attention of Prince Kai, who needs one his androids fixed. But the prince doesn’t know she’s a cyborg and the story progresses from there and takes some insanely crazy turns.

It’s been a little while since I’d read a young adult novel, and I was not disappointed at all. I’ve mentioned quite a few times that I’ve been reading quite slowly recently, but I read through this novel in 7 days, despite the fact that it’s over 400 pages.

This book is the first in a series of five books, and I’m so excited to read more. The day before I finished the book I bought the next in the series, called Scarlet which incorporates a Red Riding Hood theme.cover-set-2-1024x253

So far, I can not rave highly enough of this book. Anyone who has been reading my posts for any amount of time knows how much I love fairy tales, how much I love young adult novels and how much I love science fiction. This book is all three, and is basically my perfect novel.

If you like any one of those three things, you will undoubtedly like this book. It’s fantastic.

Go read it!

If you have read it and want to talk about it as much as I want to talk about it, leave a comment or send me an e-mail at rachel@booksandcleverness.com

Until next time!

Rachel

Panzram: A Journal of Murder

Hi friends! Well, another month has come and gone, and I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to write this, but I’ve been a slow reader recently. However, I’ve been super excited because I started (and finished) reading Panzram: A Journal of Murder by Thomas Gaddis and James Long.

I’ve wanted to read this book ever since I saw Carl Panzram: The Spirit of Hatred and Vengeance back in 2013. The documentary was made by the same man who made H.H. Holmes: America’s First Serial Killer, John Borowski.

510hrlg6mglI’ll give credit where credit is due and put it out there that my sister actually got me addicted to crime stories: books, movies, documentaries, articles, memoirs – anything. She had always been a fan more of the psychology aspect of things. She loves Law and Order SVU, she’s read a ton of memoirs on drug addiction and alcoholism, and one of her favorite books is In Cold Blood – Truman Capote. So yeah, that’s where I learned it from. Thanks, sissy.

Anyway, I watched that documentary and the second I was done watching it, I re-watched it. It was so interesting, and tantalizing, and terrifying, too. But mostly it just made me think. I hadn’t really thought about the documentary until recently when I saw it on Netflix and immediately re-re-watched it. I loved it. I honestly wanted to finish it and watch it again (because apparently I have nothing better to do).

Instead, I decided I would read the book that the documentary was based on. That’s where you guys come in! So I started reading it in early June, and was breezing through it. Or rather, going at a slightly faster snails pace than I recently have been. Side note: I feel like a horrible reader! I used to read a hundred pages a night, and now I’m lucky if I read 25. I’m so ashamed.

So I was reading this book at a pretty decent rate. I think the first three nights I read 61 pages. There are 253 pages total. But once I started hitting about 140 pages I very quickly slowed to a pace of about ten pages a night, or every other night. Not because I didn’t have the time to read, but because it got tedious. I’ll explain:

The book is not just about Carl Panzram, it’s partially (mostly in the beginning) written by Panzram. Panzram met a young guard named Henry Lesser in a Washington D.C. jail, and soon became friends with the guard – one of the only guards who had proven to him to be a friend and not a vile human being. Because of their friendship, Panzram agreed to write down his life’s story. That’s where his written account comes from in the novel.

Panzram was born into a life that wasn’t very happy or loving, but certainly wasn’t cruel. Growing up in Minnesota he always wanted to run away to the West and be a cowboy. When he attempted to steal a gun at the age of 12 to finally live out his dream of cowboy, he was sent to the Minnesota State Training School, which was a “reform school” for boys of the ages 7 to 21, notorious for it’s abuse.

redwingtrainingschool1908

Minnesota State Training School – Red Wing

Bob Dylan actually wrote a song about the horrible school that finally legitimate reformation in 1906 after a botched hanging of a Minnesota inmate. The song was called The Walls of Red Wing, with a stanza saying:

“It’s many a guard
That stands around smilin’,
Holdin’ his club
Like he was a king.
Hopin’ to get you
Behind a wood pilin’,
Inside the walls,
The walls of Red Wing.”

Panzram was brought to the school in 1903. He endured unimaginable torture at the hands of men who repeatedly said they were doing it for Panzram to learn to be a good Christian. He stated that the guards “most popular [form of punishment] with them was to take us to the “Paint Shop,” so called because there they used to paint our bodies black and blue.”

Panzram spent two years in the school with repeated attempts to escape. One of his attempts was actually used to burn down the “Paint Shop,” an action that not only caused an uproar by the people who ran the place, but also created a huge boost of morale for the students. Panzram was beaten almost to death for his act, but it was that act that caused Panzram to change his method of survival: pretending to “be a good Christian.”

He fooled the higher ups of the school and was finally let free in 1905, at the age of 14. Panzram, to the day he died, hated religion and everyone who believed in it. He had seen horrendous things done at the hands of believers.

Carl Panzram was finally free to go to The West and be a cowboy. He “rode the rails” for a year. Jumping from freight car to freight car. Unfortunately this ended in Panzram being raped by several men. This experience would change his mentality completely. He no longer wanted to be a cowboy, he just wanted to steal from, sodomize, and murder as many men and people as possible – something he did very well.

71436_91ateztvl6l_bitsHis life outside of prison didn’t last long, though. He joined the army, lying about his age, but was sent to prison only a couple months later. Because he had lied about his age, saying he was 18 years old instead of 16, he was sent to an adult prison: Fort Leavenworth Military Prison in Kansas.

Over the course of more than twenty years, Panzram would spend time in two reform schools, nine large prisons for dangerous inmates, and hundreds of smaller jails. He would break out of most of them.

In the mid 1920’s Panzram was in Dannemora Prison. He attempted escape up a 30 foot cement wall. His makeshift ladder broke and he felt those thirty feet onto the concrete. When the guards found him he had broken both of his ankles and legs, fractured his spine and “ruptured himself.” He was taken to a hospital to lay without medical attention for five days. After those five days he was made put into a cell, still with no medical attention, for 8 months. For another six months he would need to walk with crutches or a cane. After 14 months he was finally granted surgical attention. They repaired his “ruptures” and removed one of his testicles.

In Panzram’s mind, he was more concerned with making sure his reproductive organs still worked, and attempted to commit sodomy on another inmate. For this infraction he was denied care and put back into his cell to heal on his own. From that day on, he couldn’t walk without a sideways gait and limp.

Once he was freed from that prison, it wasn’t until 1928 that he was arrested again in Washington D.C. for housebreaking. This is where he met the guard Henry Lesser.

After becoming friends with the guard, and giving him the story of his life, he was transferred back to the first large prison he ever got stuck in, Fort Leavenworth. During his stay, he murdered one guard, and had planned on killing thirteen more, had they been where he thought they would be. He would live in this prison for two years before his execution by hanging on September 5, 1930.

So, the review. I think this story is fantastic. I think it’s a great example of a regular kid trying to rebel to get the attention of his family and friends, who was then turned into a hardened criminal by the surroundings he was forced into.

Now I know that I could be totally wrong. Maybe this guy was born evil and it was just a matter of time before he started murdering and raping everything he saw. But from what I’ve read, I truly believe that this man was put under horrible conditions from a very young age; was forced to do horrible things, and in turn only learned about hatred, lies, and manipulation. Don’t get me wrong, I think he’s despicable. But I don’t necessarily think he would have been despicable.

Through Panzram’s entire confession, he repeatedly states that he wants to be executed. He wants to die before he hurts more people. He believes that all humans are inherently evil, including himself, and thus he is “reforming” them by killing them. Yes, this is the rationale of a crazy person. But is it not also the rationale of someone carlpanzram252822529who had been subjected to torture, brain washing, and molestation from a very early age? As someone who had grown up in “reform” schools, does it not seem odd that he would go through life “reforming” those he met?

Maybe that’s not the topic at hand – maybe I should just review the story – but I feel like I would missing a huge opportunity to explain to people just how dangerous the American prison system can be. Even one hundred years later, there are still stories and confessions of people exactly like Panzram, who are arrested from an early age, not given an opportunity to better themselves, and often are sent out of prisons into a new life of crime that they may not have had to deal with, had they had the right opportunities and the right people helping them.

But here’s what I think of the book: I’m going to give it 4 out of 5 stars. Not because the entire book was wonderful. Because I really feel like after the first 150 pages it got really slow, with not too much to add from Panzram’s side other than how he wanted articles to read before he died. Once he was brought to Fort Leavenworth for the second time, he was basically in isolation for two years – that doesn’t really give you a lot to talk about. So instead that time was spent reading about Panzram just wanting to die. I preferred reading about Panzram’s life and his ideals – the way he reacted towards other people and how he handled life in prison for almost thirty years.

That said, the writing by Gaddis and Long was exquisite, the writing by Panzram was dark, horrible, and depressing – but it was fantastic. I think this book deserves 4 stars, or two thumbs up, or fifteen Quatloos, simply for this man’s story, and the amazing amount of research that Gaddis and Long did on the penitentiaries and towns that Panzram had visited, as well as the research into Panzram himself.

If you are a fan of crime books, or are intrigued by this kind of thing, I highly recommend that you read it. It’s well worth the read. If you’re not a fan, I hope you at least enjoyed this post!

If you have any opinions on anything I’ve mentioned or if you have anything at all you want to say I really would love to hear all about it. You can comment below or send me an e-mail to rachel@booksandcleverness.com

Thanks for reading, and until next time,

Rachel