Monday, January 27, 2014

Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Title: Cinder
Author: Marissa Meyer
Series: Lunar Chronicles, Book 1
Genre: Young Adult Steampunk
Release Date:

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.

I admit, I was nervous to pick up this book, no matter how much I love fairy-tale retellings. So frequently they don't live up to my hopes and dreams. Cinder, while not perfect, absolutely did! I was engrossed and enamoured of the story and characters from the very beginning. Marissa Meyer pulled me in and, even when I was questioning the logic, or despite knowing exactly what was happening, she didn't let me go.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I picked up this book. Sure, I knew it had androids and it was a Cinderella retelling. I expected romance, machinery, evil step-sisters and a prince. While I got most of that, it's put together in such a fascinating way that I couldn't help but be charmed. If you've read any fairy-tales, or fairy-tale-like stories, you will probably see the 'surprise' coming a mile away (or from the very first pages of the book more like) - but that's okay. That's part of the fun of reading retellings.

I find it hard to talk about this book for fear of spoiling anyone that hasn't read it yet (I know there's got to be a couple of you out there yet). Cinder's an interesting character. She's not a goody-two-shoes, she's not perfect, and yet she's one that I can absolutely root for. I wanted to see her get her freedom, not just from her present situation either. I really liked how she took concrete steps to try to forge forward with the life she wanted. While she didn't always think things through, and her planning sometimes did not result in her anticipated goals - the fact that she was trying and determined made me love her.

Prince Kai. *sigh* He could almost be too perfect. Almost. But he isn't. He's real and sweet and charming and…I could go on. I loved the sweet flirting between Kai and Cinder; there were times I literally 'aww'd out loud as I read some of their interactions. I 'ship this pairing so hard! I need them to get together.

There aren't a lot of other characters that get a lot of depth, Queen Leveana - the antagonist - barely does; Dr. Erland gets a bit more (I still hate him); and we at least get some understand of one of Cinder's sisters.

Going back to Dr. Erland - I hate the cyborg draft. HATE. Even with his reasons, I can't help but hate him. One of my friends had some issues with the logic of the cyborgs being used in this way, I didn't have these issues. I have no doubt that this kind of thing would result in prejudice and a feeling of superiority from "real" humans. After all they're "pure," not part machine. So I get that. I did wonder where the hell animal testing had gone though. What, are there no rats or mice in this new world? My issue though was with what the character did, not really the logic of that plot-line.

I also have to admit to some confusion on the sense of place. We're in New Beijing. Okay, where is that? Are we still in China? Asia? Somewhere else? It kind of had a feeling of Euro-Chinese - which could be completely valid as New York is a long ways from York, for example. I think I'd just like a better idea of how the world is laid out and divided amongst the Earthens.

Most of these questions and thoughts popped up while reading and were quickly brushed aside as I was absorbed back into the story once again. They still hang with me, but didn't detract from my enjoyment at all.

Cinder ends on one hell of a cliff-hanger. Things come to a head, stuff happens, Cinder's in trouble and recognizes that everything - including herself - is changing and something new has to happen…and then it ends. I'm dying to pick up Scarlet. And I already can't wait for Cress. If either or both of these turn out as fun as Cinder was, Marissa Meyer's got a new fan.

Grade: B+

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