Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Book Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth's fate hinges on one girl... Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She's a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister's illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai's, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world's future.

Pages: 387
Author: Marissa Meyer
Add It: Goodreads
Series: Lunar Chronicles (#1)
Publisher: Macmillan
Rating: 4/5

When Cinder first came to my attention I was completely enamored with the idea for the book, and even more so for the concept of the entire quartet, which will also focus on other fairytale heroines. After finishing Cinder's first story I am happy to say that my expectations for this series were more than met.

Cinder is a cyborg. This was such an interesting spin on the story of Cinderella that I was captured by her character from the very beginning. I think fairytale retellings need to find a way to leave their own mark, to find a way to differentiate themselves entirely from the original story. Cinder certainly did that. I haven't read too many retellings prior to Cinder, Ash by Malinda Lo comes to mind, and while I more than appreciated Malinda's attempt to modernize the character of Cinderella (More LGBT characters in literature, please!) I felt that the rest of the story fell flat and failed to deliver anything exciting or new to the tale. Where Ash failed for me Cinder rose above and beyond. Cyborgs, robots, and aliens from the moon brought life and twists to this classic story.

Cinder herself is tough, amusing, and full of heart. She is a first class mechanic and highly intelligent. She will fight to protect those she cares about even if she has to do it without one of her feet. She dreams big dreams and is haunted by her past. Together with her robot sidekick, Iko, she was a pleasure to read about. I enjoyed her relationship with her sister Peony as well; it was nice to see Cinder have a true friend in the house aside from Iko. Cinder's relationship with her stepmother was nothing new but was made even more horrifying by the fact that Cinder was a cyborg. The evil stepmother was given more opportunity to be cruel in new and imaginative ways; she could hold Cinder's body parts hostage! I also enjoyed Cinder's relationship with Kai. It was slow to develop and realistic. Neither character was willing to put aside important things for the other and throw everything away for "love" as some YA characters do nowadays. Cinder and Kai both know that there are more important things than a budding romance; like survival, a kingdom, and family.

I did feel that a certain "twist" was so obvious from the early pages of the story and wish it had been a bit more subtle. It didn't bother me until we reached the ending. The ending seemed rather anti-climatic because it relied so heavily upon the reveal of a secret many of us had seen coming from the beginning. The story did feel a little incomplete and unresolved. I would have rather seen Cinder's story end in this book and had the other books in the quartet focus on the other heroines being introduced. I don't think this is only because I am growing so tired of cliffhangers and series in general, but also because it would have served the story better. Focusing on a new heroine each time would give plenty of time to give new life to the classic characters, instead of spending so much focus on just one. I wish the YA market would start going in the direction of companion novels (like Kristin Cashore's Seven Kingdoms Series) which would allow us to visit the same worlds again but also let us read about new and interesting characters, instead of dragging out the stories of the same characters over and over.

I would definitely recommend Cinder to others. It's a fun book that stands out amongst the other debut novels of the year. We need more Science Fiction (non-dystopian) on our shelves. More cyborgs and robots too.


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