Book Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

January 23, 2012 Books, Reading, Reviews 1 ★★★★½

Book Review: Cinder by Marissa MeyerCinder by Marissa Meyer
four-half-stars
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.
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #1
Published by Feiwel & Friends on 3 January 2012
Genres: Science Fiction, Speculative Fiction, Teen Romance, Teen SF, Teen/YA Fiction
Pages: 387
Format: eBook
Find this book on Goodreads
Buy the Book at: Amazon

Holy amazing book, Batman. I absolutely loved Cinder. It’s a science-fictiony retooling of Cinderella, complete with a downtrodden cyborg, a terrible plague, a handsome prince, and an evil queen from the Moon.

I mean, how could this story not be awesome with a description like that?

The best fairy tale retellings are the ones that take the heart of the old story and mold it into something entirely new and exciting. You can see obvious threads of Cinderella in Cinder’s story, but Meyer has woven those threads into a much larger, socially-aware tapestry than the usual “poor girl falls in love with prince” retelling. Cinder deals with social prejudice, racism, classism, totalitarian threats, and the fear of epidemic, a nice backdrop for the story of a girl who is just trying to get along in the face of her adoptive mother’s near-irrational hatred of her.

Cinder is a very likable character. She’s pragmatic and intelligent, and unlike the original Cinderella, who meekly did what she was told, Cinder gets angry at the injustices thrust upon her, and she’s not afraid to let people know. Her snarky retorts to her adoptive mother and older sister had me doing internal fist pumps. Cinder knows she has to do all of the menial crap her family dumps in her lap, but she’s not going to let them think that she’s doing it happily.

I also like her strong devotion to doing what she thinks is the right thing. After finding out some very shocking news about herself and her history, she could have easily just melted into anonymity, escaping New Beijing and starting a new life elsewhere. Her sense of morality prevents her from abandoning the people who, even though they are unaware of it, depend on her to do the right thing. Way to go, Cinder.

I liked the supporting cast of characters, too, and it was especially nice that none of them really felt like stock characters. Her adoptive family, despite their pretensions and prejudices, all had something that you could sympathize with. Dr Erland is nicely complicated; I could never quite figure out his motives, and I’m still not sure if I trust those motives even after he explains them. Prince Kai is kinda perfect–he’s my kind of dreamy YA love interest–but at the same time, he has a very realistic reluctance to take over rule of his father’s empire. He’s gorgeous and charming, but he also has very human fears and anxieties.

The story itself is very exciting. It dug in its claws pretty much on the first page, and I was hooked the rest of the way through. There are occasional moments in the prose that are a bit stilted or unclear, but it didn’t get in the way of my enjoying the story. There is some predictability and heavy-handed foreshadowing, but for me, the intriguing setting and entertaining story overrode any complaints I would have had. My only real complaint is that it ends on one heck of a cliffhanger, and I’m a very impatient reader. I want book 2 now!

 

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