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fairy tale retellings

Bite-Sized Book Reviews: PS I STILL LOVE YOU, WRITTEN IN THE STARS, and THE FORBIDDEN WISH

BooksKristina PinoComment

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

I picked up this book without knowing it's a sequel until it was "too late" (the first book is called To All The Boys I've Loved Before). Even so, I had no trouble getting into the story and Han does a good job of dropping hints and exposition here and there so everyone's on the same page. This is a sweet romance-type story, but it also covers a lot of ground when it comes to modern teen life in general. The consequences of posting mean things online, gender politics and how circumstances affect different people, and an examination of love and heartbreak are all touched upon here through Lara Jean's perspective. I liked being in her head through all of this and seeing how she reacts to and learns from these experiences.

Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed

This is one of those hard to read, gut-wrenching type stories. Naila's super conservative parents don't allow her to date, or even speak with any boys, and it's their tradition to choose her future husband for her. She gets caught dating Saif, and they whisk her away to Pakistan where she thought she was just going on vacation to visit family, but later finds out her parents have chosen a husband for her and planned for her to wed and stay behind. Eventually, as a reader, you start seeing that things are just going to get worse and worse, and you read with sort of a sense of dread for Naila, but there's hope: Saif is looking for her and trying to get her out of her horrible situation. I found myself rooting for Naila the entire time, facing all these things happening to her and choosing to survive.

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The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury

You might know the story of Aladdin, but you won't recognize this version. Aladdin is the son of rebels, expected to rise up with the people, but chooses a life of thievery instead. Jinni has been stuck in her lamp for eons, punished for befriending her last master, sitting in the ruins of her dear friend's old kingdom. When Aladdin finds the lamp and whisks her away, the king of all the jinn charges her with a mission in exchange for the tantalizing reward of freedom. The problem is, using her new master to her ends is at odds with the simple fact that she's falling in love with him. As far as love stories go, this one is ridiculously satisfying, and the whole thing is written as if it were a long, long letter to her dear, old friend. Fresh format, and excellent spin to the story of Aladdin and the lamp.

Bite-Sized Book Reviews: FAIREST, GROUNDED, and AN ABUNDANCE OF KATHERINES

BooksKristina PinoComment

Fairest by Marissa Meyer

This book is a spin-off within the Lunar Chronicles series, which tells the backstory of its main villain, Levana. Where Cinder got its inspiration from Cinderella, Scarlet from Red Riding Hood, and Cress from Rapunzel, Fairest takes its inspiration from Snow White, a theme which is continued in the latest major installment of the series to date, Winter. Levana's story is an interesting one: she's totally twisted beyond repair, a ruthless leader, an expert strategist. But she's also hopelessly in love with someone who will never love her back, and she's more than a little bit vain. Great read for any fan of the series, especially if you, like me, love to get more information, backstories, and generally just like to play a little more in the universes that authors create for us. I wish more sci-fi and fantasy series authors wrote spin-off novels - even when they're as tragic as Levana's story.

Grounded by Megan Morrison

Grounded is a retelling of the story of Rapunzel, blended with the story of Jack and the Beanstalk and a dash of The Wizard of Oz. Rapunzel is happy to stay up in her tower, and she fends off all the princes and otherwise curious folk who try to rescue her. That is, until the day Jack tricks her into climbing down, and she sets off on a journey. There's magic, and there are fairies, and this super old tree she's got to find in order to learn truths about herself and her Witch. There are a few things I rather liked about this book: Rapunzel keeps a firm grasp on her agency throughout the story, lending her own logic to the circumstances and situations she's in. Though some folk dismiss her as ignorant, her central character trait is her innocence, and the way other characters handle that says more about them than it does about her. I liked the way she stands up for herself and the resourcefulness with which she proves herself to others, too. This is a nice read for youngsters and I was also happy to note it's the first in a new series.

 

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

I finally found a John Green book I truly love. If you've read another of his works and weren't sure you wanted to try again, try this one. We follow the story of Colin Singleton, who takes off on a road trip of self-discovery with his best friend Hassan following a break-up with one of the many Katherines he's dated. This isn't really a story about break-ups or loss or angst or whatever, it's really about relationships (and friendships) in general, and the funny way our brains work, and how any little thing can remind you of a person, or a place you've been to, or some other memory. The narrative meanders to and fro much in the same way our memories and experiences do, and the whole thing is just lovely.

As someone who appreciates linguistics and word play, I also loved all the tidbits and trivia I picked up from this book, such as this:

Just lovely.