Hardcover, 336 pages
Expected publication: October 14th 2014 by Disney-Hyperion
Essie has a tough life. She lives on a planet dedicated to mining, where women are scarce and life is hard. She is some kind of a whiz with coding and machinery and has made the miners’ lives much easier by creative autonomous drones that do much of the more dangerous work in the mines. These drones are loyal to Essie and she keeps them around much like pets. Essie does cage fights against grown men and manages to win most of the time thus earning money and/or supplementing her income to buy things. The planet she lives on doesn’t offer her much but it’s home and she likes it, warts and all.
Then a boy crashes his spaceship? space-plane? whatever near the settlement where she lives and Essie feels compelled to help him – to the point that she gets beaten up (but ultimately winning) in a cage fight to earn money to repair his ship. This boy repays her by hitting her on the head and kidnapping her to take her away from her home planet to his own. Because Essie has a secret – she is not just a whiz mechanic but also a princess and lone heir to the kingdom that rules all four of the populated planets in the galaxy.
In a pinch, that’s the summary of Stitching Snow. Now for the actual review.
There are marked similarities between Marissa Meyer’s Cinder and Stitching Snow and while both books have completely different tones and are retelling completely different fairytales (as different as fairytales can be), one can’t help but compare the two and find Stitching Snow to lack something that Cinder had in abundance. Essie is a likable character and I appreciate that she actually sounds knowledgeable about all the mechanical things she is doing. I like how self-sufficient she is and how much agency she has. But no matter how much I liked her in an objective way, I couldn’t form a connection to her and this meant I was not invested at all in what happened to her.
I wasn’t a fan of the romance either. He hits her on the head and kidnaps her. With that in mind, no matter how sweet he gets later on, I am not buying what he is offering because I hold grudges. Another thing that struck me was the lack of logic in certain things. Essie is supposed to be a great fighter who has a nearly flawless record and yet, she is unable to beat this guy. Even with the disparity in their training, I would think that Essie would hold her own against him but no. She is completely helpless against this guy. Another sticking point is the fact that is Essie is only 9 when she is dropped off on this unfriendly planet with, I’m assuming, no money and/or protection. A nine year old child is pretty helpless in my experience and I don’t know if I can suspend my disbelief enough to accept that she managed to survive all the way to seventeen without dying.
The plot is pretty straight forward but I’m afraid the antagonists aren’t very complex people. They are very one-dimensional and do not have the complexity that makes for wonderful villains. I wanted to see more of their internal thoughts or if not that, then some cogitation on Essie’s part on the evil stepmother character. I think there was such rich potential for great development that was unfortunately not met.
So obviously, I didn’t have as much fun as I expected to while reading this book. However, the worldbuilding is really well done and as I mentioned previously, I love that Essie knows what she is talking about, techwise. The romance was a bit too much for me but those who don’t mind mush, may not mind it here.