Genre: Retellings, Sci-Fi, YA
Publication date: October 14, 2014
by Disney Hyperion
Princess Snow is missing.
Her home planet is filled with violence and corruption at the hands of King Matthias and his wife as they attempt to punish her captors. The king will stop at nothing to get his beloved daughter back—but that’s assuming she wants to return at all.
Essie has grown used to being cold. Temperatures on the planet Thanda are always sub-zero, and she fills her days with coding and repairs for the seven loyal drones that run the local mines.
When a mysterious young man named Dane crash-lands near her home, Essie agrees to help the pilot repair his ship. But soon she realizes that Dane’s arrival was far from accidental, and she’s pulled into the heart of a war she’s risked everything to avoid. With the galaxy’s future—and her own—in jeopardy, Essie must choose who to trust in a fiery fight for survival.
-A copy was provided by Disney Book Group for review-
Well, this is awkward… another review for a retelling from yours truly. I swear I am not seeking them out; they seem to find me, not I them. In any case, this one is extra special because it’s a retelling in spaaaaaaaace. And anything set in space is automatically “cool beans” in my eyes. I mean, usually. You know. *fidgets*
Now the only problem is… where to bloody start.
You see, Stitching Snow and I have quite a complicated relationship. I liked it for the most part, but I found a lot of problems along the way, and I for one never forget these things. Once I spot one, they become even more glaring after a while. Surely now, if ever this book were sentient, it’s probably regretting it had to be read by me of all people.
For one, this book is obviously futuristic, and set in a world that isn’t the Solar System. Since we’re in a brand new setting, I expected there to be more imagery about the environment they’re in. Not only about the planets and the places they’re inhabiting, but about how their orbits and stuff work as well, because there’s some space travel in this one. Unfortunately, I found the world-building lacking to the point that it was nearly nonexistent.
I mean, it’s cool to be bombarded with technical mumbo-jumbo since our heroine, Essie, is a mechanic… they were cool after a while, but sooner or later, I simply wanted to learn more about the setting. What does her world, Thanda, look like? What else is there in Settlement Forty-Two? What’s to be found in the Bands, aside from being where the women and children live? What about Gamar? So it’s hot in that planet, full of sands, and they have solar screens… and is that it? Does this planet have anything else to offer? What about Canadar? It’s the place where the Exiles live, okay… the houses are in marble, okay… there are frequent earthquakes, okay… and? What goes beyond it? What about Windsong? There’s a castle… that’s where the King and Queen live… and? AND WHAT ELSE? WHAT BLOODY ELSE?!?!
So many questions and I’m not even halfway done. What I find really disappointing in this book is that it doesn’t even bloody try. It would mention places, but I don’t even remember anything special about them because they only had passing descriptive sentences that were easily forgettable. It would mention important people, but aside from their name, we don’t even know what they look like.It’s funny because no one has a description save for the main character and the love interest. People pop in, and we’re not given a detail about them that would make them distinct from others. I mean, seriously, they go out to space to travel and we don’t even get to know the name of their system’s bloody star. I’m not even sure all the planets are in the same planetary system, but it definitely looks like it… and now I need more info on how that’s possible, but screw details right?
Look, the thing is, I hate it when a book is really detailed to the point your brain is overloaded with overlapping images, but this is world-building, guys. For me, it cannot be vague. It doesn’t need to be in every other page, it simply needs to be solid and consistent. Heck, there’s a political war in this book, and the explanation on its background history can be jotted down in half a page. And that’s so frustrating because the plot is centered on that fucking political war. I need more than that for me to be completely immersed in the people’s plight.
Speaking about the war, I’m giggling to myself like crazy how the villain here certainly felt like Snow White’s villain – simple-minded and evil for the heck of it. Or maybe there’s a reason why the antagonist hated our heroine so bloody much, but I wouldn’t know because the book has never expounded on it. A lot of the story is centered on stopping their evil regime, and when we finally crossed that bridge, we get a very underwhelming villain who I can easily picture as a boogeyman because there’s absolutely nothing that can distinct the two anyway.
And I feel so sad about it because that’s another opportunity wasted. I wish there was more to the “mean mother”. We only know that she hates Essie because “she’s in the way”. In the way of what? The throne? But you already are Queen, and Essie wouldn’t be queen yet until you die so what’s the issue? I don’t even get the need to control and make life miserable for other planets when the Exiles were originally co-existing with them. I certainly would have loved to know more Queen Olivia and her motives, wanted to see more than the evil caricature that she was… but yeah, no dice.
But at least it had a strong heroine. Essie is a strong, capable, and independent girl who survived by herself for many years in the distant planet of Thanda. I loved that she had spunk, and that whenever she found herself in a bind, she sought for ways to free herself from it. She was the lost princess, but was a warrior at heart, through and through. I admit that red sirens were wailing in my head when she first found Dane in a crash site and she immediately described him as “beautiful”, “as if an artist sculpted him”, but thankfully, she didn’t turn into a lovesick fool in the scenes succeeding that.
I liked that she had some internal conflict within her, regarding whether or not she wanted to step up and stop escaping from the harsh reality. It’s more believable that way rather than charging into a war blindly without thinking things through. If I were her, I would be indecisive at first as well, because it’s basically an issue of “to sacrifice myself to save them, or sacrifice them to save myself”.
I’m not really sure what to think about the romance, though. I’m glad that the romance was kept at a minimum, and although there were some awkward “I love yous”, it only really blossomed and materialized at the very end, which made me somewhat happy because that makes more sense than kissing during an an attempt to take the throne. However, while Dane was generally a nice person whose only fault was being quite ignorant in the beginning, he was kinda bland for me. Reading the book, it looked like to me that his personality simply revolved around Essie. It felt like he never really stood out… his personality didn’t shine through at all, and he slowly blended in the background. That may have been on purpose, but I wished his presence was more felt considering his kidnapping scheme was the catalyst and he was Essie’s support system.
All in all, it could have been a good retelling, but the lack of world-building made it really hard for me to appreciate this novel because as a visual reader, I need to be able to see them in my mind to immerse myself in it. The antagonist’s simple-mindedness and the book’s failure to bring something new to the table in this regard wasn’t something that I could overlook as well. The “I’m evil because I am” is just something that doesn’t work with me anymore. But thankfully, the lack of overwhelming romance and the strong heroine saved the day, and they are what redeemed this book for me.