Salute Your Shorts is a weekly (ish) feature hosted by Heidi at Bunbury in the Stacks. It highlights and reviews short stories and novellas, both of which don't receive too much attention in the blogosphere.
Title: The Queen's Army (Lunar Chronicles, #1.5)
Author: Marissa Meyer
Rating: 4 Stars
The Queen's Army is one of two good e-novellas out there, the other being Roar and Liv by Veronica Rossi. While I am always exceedingly curious to pick up novellas, I tend to find that they are massive disappointments, focusing on unrelated aspects of the plot or simply written poorly. Whatever the case may be, I have more or less sworn off of YA Novellas. In Marissa Meyer's case, though, I'll be making an exception. The Queen's Army was short, but sufficient enough to give the reader new - and deeper - insight into the world Meyer has created and by the end of it, you'll be itching for more of her writing for sure.
Z is a twelve-year-old Lunar when he is recruited by the Queen to serve in her army. After being forced away from his family, he undergoes surgery, emerging as a human boy with wolf instincts - sharp smell, heightened hearing, better vision, and, of course, canines. Now, in the army, Z has only one goal in mind - to be strong enough, fast enough, and good enough that his Queen doesn't see fit to turn him into the pro-type for future soldiers - one that is more beast than man.
With The Queen's Army, Marissa Meyer cleverly shows us a chink in the seemingly perfect plans of Queen Levana. As a villain, she is formidable, intelligent, and cunning, but she also cannot always control everyone and everything. Although the wolf-human soldiers she creates are bound to the will of their leaders, the struggle Meyer has shown is one that is shockingly easy to feel for. Z lives on in the hope that he will remain the half-mutated boy he currently is, fearful of his beast tendencies and despising the thought that he may have fur in the future if he doesn't prove himself good enough. It is this drive that makes Z such an endearing character. Unlike the others, Z isn't utterly fixated upon serving his Queen, but rather keeping his humanity. When you're turned into a beast, how far can you go to preserve the moral standards that you once retained as a human?
Although I read The Queen's Army after Scarlet, I do not entirely think it makes much of a difference when you read this short story. While it does, quite obviously, give away a plot twist in Meyer's sophomore novel, many of my friends have enjoyed Scarlet just as much - if not more - than I have despite it. In fact, this short e-novella gives the reader a deeper insight into one of Meyer's new characters. Without this background knowledge, though, the reader is transported directly into Scarlet's head and she discovers her new companion, along with any betrayals that may come her way. While I thoroughly enjoyed the plot twists that I was able to experience as a result of not having read this novel before Scarlet, I do think it'll make for a more enriched, although predictable, reading experience.
Either way, the point remains that this e-novella is a must-read for fans of Marissa Meyer and the Lunar Chronicles. It takes up only fifteen minutes of your time, but manages to make you think, question, and fall in love with an original character. If that isn't worth reading for, then I don't know what is.