Saturday, February 9, 2013

Book Review: Cinders & Sapphires by Leila Rasheed

Title:  Cinders & Sapphires
Author:  Leila Rasheed
Genre:  YA historical fiction
Pages:  400

Rating:  Incomplete (didn't bother finishing it)

Synopsis from  Rose Cliffe has never met a young lady like her new mistress. Clever, rich, and beautiful, Ada Averley treats Rose as an equal. And Rose could use a friend. Especially now that she, at barely sixteen, has risen to the position of ladies’ maid. Rose knows she should be grateful to have a place at a house like Somerton. Still, she can’t help but wonder what her life might have been had she been born a lady, like Ada.

For the first time in a decade, the Averleys have returned to Somerton, their majestic ancestral estate. But terrible scandal has followed Ada’s beloved father all the way from India. Now Ada finds herself torn between her own happiness and her family’s honor. Only she has the power to restore the Averley name—but it would mean giving up her one true love . . . someone she could never persuade her father to accept.
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Ever read a book that you just knew was going to be awful, after only reading the first three pages of the prologue?  I read the first couple of pages of Cinders & Sapphires, and I didn't even want to finish the prologue.  The prologue!  But I forced myself to keep reading.  After all, there was a chance it could get better, right?  Wrong.  I gave up on page 174.  The terrible writing, the flat characters, and the practically stolen storylines from Downton Abbey - I just couldn't make myself read it.

Leila Rasheed both tries too hard and not enough with her writing.  She loves the flowery descriptions, often going crazy with her adjectives.  It just feels like she must have had a thesaurus open next to her the entire time.  On the other hand, there were times when her writing felt cliched and juvenile.

And the characters had no depth to them at all.  Two-dimensional and stereotyped, they were bland and boring.  I didn't care if Ada never made it to Oxford or ended up with her insta-love Ravi.  I didn't care if Rose discovered the scandalous secret of her parentage.  Honestly, I couldn't connect with any of these characters because they had no personality to draw me to them.

But what irked me most of all was the fact that this book, described as "Downton Abbey for teens", is pretty much nothing more than a blatant rip-off of the TV series.  When I first heard about this book, I was super excited because I love Downton Abbey.  The intertwined lives of the upper class and their servants has led to some amazing books and TV shows in the past, ones that I have really enjoyed.  But none of them was an obvious copycat of another show or book.  Don't waste your time with Cinders & Sapphires; if you love Downton Abbey like me, then just stick to the show.  Incomplete

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