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Think you know fairy tales?  Think again.

Marissa Meyer is back with book 2 of the Lunar Chronicles, the story of Scarlet Benoit.  Scarlet is on a mission to find her grandmother, kidnapped from their farm several weeks ago.  The police have given up, convinced she left on her own, but Scarlet’s not alone – a street fighter nicknamed “Wolf” is helping her.  Those with any recollection of childhood stories will be a little suspicious of his motives, but Meyer manages to keep you guessing for a long time.

And then there’s the little matter of why Grandma was kidnapped.  Scarlet’s grandma was in the military, but that was decades ago.  Surely she couldn’t know anything worth kidnapping her over?

Meanwhile, a dangerous fugitive has broken out of prison.  Cinder, the cyborg from book 1 who lost her foot while running away from the ball, is on the loose!   All she wants is to be left alone, but she knows that’s not an option.  So she’s determined to find out more about her past.  Why does she have no memories before the age of 11?  Is there anyone who knows her story?

And, as the two women strive to find out the truth, the Lunar Queen makes her preparations for an invasion of Earth.

I loved this book.  The characterisation is impressive, the plot moves along at a pace that had me glued to the sofa, and there were enough little twists that knowing your fairy tales doesn’t help you predict what’s going to happen in anything more than a general sense.

In fact, only one thing annoys me – we’re expected to wait until 2014 for book 3!

Philip Pullman is just about to publish a book called “Grimm Tales for Young and Old” – a collection of Grimm’s Fairy Tales rewritten in more modern language.  From what I can tell from the publicity, the plots and endings are exactly the same, and only the language as been updated.  The question is, is it cheating if you don’t come up with your own storylines?

I’m not talking about modern versions here – for example, Cinder by Marissa Meyer is a sci fi version of Cinderella – but it’s different enough to the original that you want to read it anyway, just to find out what’s going to happen.  (Seriously, it’s a good book – Cinder is a cyborg, people live on the moon, and there are psychic powers.  I couldn’t put it down.  The sequel isn’t out until January, and I’m already chomping at the bit.)

I’m also not talking about people who take myths and legends and twist them to almost unrecognisable perversions of themselves – like Julian May’s Saga of the Exiles, which involves the Tuatha de Daanan and Balor One-Eye, although they are actually aliens and have different names.

There are plenty of other examples of good re-imaginings.

But Mr Pullman’s book does feel, at least from the descriptions, as if there’s nothing new in it.  No reason to read it if you have read the originals.  Maybe not even if you haven’t.  If other people – you or I for example – had tried to publish this book, we would have been laughed at.  He can only do it because he’s already famous.  At least, that’s how it feels.

What do you think?

The Author

Nicola Higgins is a 30-something martial artist who runs two Brownie packs and works full time. She somehow still finds time to write.

Her favourite genres are near-future and alternate world science fiction and fantasy.

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