Saturday, July 18, 2015

Book Review: The Ugly Stepsister by Aya Ling

Author: Aya Ling
Published: June 10th, 2015
Length: 452 pages [ebook version]
Rating: 3/5 stars

This book was given free by the author in exchange for honest review.

When Kat accidentally rips apart an old picture book, she's magically transported into the world of Cinderella--as Katriona, one of the ugly stepsisters! Life turns upside down now that she’s a highborn lady and must learn how to survive the social season, including how to get through the door in a huge metal hoop skirt. To get back, she'll have to complete the story, right to the end of happily ever after. But the odds are huge: the other stepsister is drop-dead gorgeous, the fairy godmother is nowhere to be found, and the prince, despite being insanely hot, openly dislikes balls. Can she ever return to the modern world?

I didn't expect to love this book. I mean, I knew I was going to like it based on the synopsis 'cause it's my kind of light reading. And there are already a lot of re-telling version of Cinderella. "Why would I love this best?" That's what I thought. I don't really like the cover either. It's less a fairy tale. I won't pick up this book on bookstore if I judge it by the cover. But still, I think the title is quite strong. The Ugly Stepsister. Who would've thought that the stepsister can build an interesting story? Yup, don't expect too much of Cinderella when you read this.

Cinderella. We all know she is a high class lady who unfortunately ends up as a maid for her stepmother. She has two stepsisters and I'm not sure whether they are described as prettier girls or otherwise. One thing I have noticed from several versions of Cinderella story is that the supporting characters will never be better than the main character. This book is not an exception. Look at the title! It is clearly stated that the stepsister is ugly. That is why I think it is interesting to explore Cinderella world from the stepsister's point of view.

So, let me tell you the brief story of this book. As you may have guessed, the main character in this book is not Cinderella or Ella. It is Kat, an ordinary high school student. One day, her mother tells her to clean up the attic where she later finds an old story book, Cinderella. When Kat is trying to move it, she fells down and the book's pages are ripped. Suddenly, she is magically transported into a world where Cinderella lives. Yes, baby, the book is cursed.

Kat wakes up in a fancy grandy bedroom. A woman, who turns out to be her servant, called her Miss Katriona. Shortly, Kat should make a happy ending for the book or she would be trapped in the story world forever. But, finding a happy ending for Cinderella is not easy even though Kat knew how the story suppose to end. Ella is not her stepsister. Ella is a Tetcher while Kat and the other stepsister, Bianca, is a Bradshaw. Yes, Ella has a mother and two little brothers. Ella is one of Kat's maid. The other problem is how to find the fairy godmother? It seems hard to find her in the so-not-like-the-Cinderella-story-you-once-knew. Well, I'll let you read it yourself to figure out the rest of the story. 

The one thing I like about this book is probably the strength of femininity involvement. Kat came from a modern world where woman are equal to men. So, it's no doubt that she disagree almost with every way the story world people treat woman. And the she involved in some kind of patriotic movement. That difference made some guys, including the prince, attracted to her. I'm attracted to her. She is absolutely brilliant in the story. Kat transforms from a likeable awkward bookworm to a strong female character that I respected as much as admired! No wonder she then become close to the prince. And I love the prince too! He is described as a wise helpful guy and interested in gardening. Wow!

The writing is absolutely brilliant. It is simple yet effective in getting the emotions and the circumstances across to the reader perfectly. But, I need to know what happen to the other characters. How's the prince??!! 

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