Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Book Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Title: Cinder
Author: Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles Book 1
Published: Macmillan, 2012
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Synopsis: 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.

This book is insanely intriguing. It is another one of those books that comes very highly recommended. And it was not at all a letdown. As you may know Cinder is a fairy-tale retelling, a postmodern spin on the classic story of Cinderella where a poor and unloved girl meets and falls for a prince and they get married because the shoe fits. While reading the book I found myself comparing plot details to the all too familiar story it's based on. While the similarities are there, (the unloved girl treated as a servant, evil stepmother, charming prince, and celebratory ball to attend undercover) there were many more difference to the story where I was failing to find some basis in the original story (why do we also have an evil queen? Who's the fairy godmother? What's with that ending?). But the fact that it's not a point for point retelling is a testament to Marissa Meter and her storytelling. This is a completely new and refreshing take on the story.

And not only is this not your average fairytale and these were not the cliche fairytale characters you usually see. Cinder is not the damsel-in-distress that you're used to in fairytales. She's a tough and sarcastic mechanic who does not go all swoony around the prince. She was likable, relatable, and you wanted her to succeed and end up with the prince. But as usual in this case I loved the secondary characters. I loved Iko, the snarky android who did go all swoony around the prince and I especially liked Dr. Erland who has a dubious personality and a very cool character arc as the book goes on. I suspect he will have a bigger part as the series goes on. But I also really loved the villains if this story. Adri, the evil stepmother was incredibly vindictive and so easy to hate, but so was Queen Levana the heinous and scheming Lunar Queen who is so deliciously bad. I wasn't sure who I disliked more through most of the book. There were many more characters who walked the line between good and evil, and they were complicated and amazing to read about.

For me the best part of the book was the world-building. The creation of this world was executed beautifully. It s complicated and unique and we learn piece by piece about this future world including the technological aspects of it, and it's history. It's not a particularly fun world, with all its overpopulation, disease, and freaky robots, but it is interesting. I want to know everything about the world and was addicted almost from the gate. As far as the plot goes, it was interesting and compelling. It had much more mystery and political intrigue than I expected. I spent a lot of the book with "huh face." You know the face. Head slightly cocked, mouth agape, furrowed brow, and eyes looking around shiftily. I kept trying to solve all the clues and was often surprised by the numerous twists in the story.

But as great as the plot was, I still wish it had a little more heft to it. I've said it before but first books in a series always seem to serve the purpose of creating and explaining the world and laying the groundwork for more exciting things that won't happen till the last book. That's how I felt about Cinder. Even the big twists felt like they were building up to tell you something that won't be significant till the series is over. This point is best articulated by the ending. We are left learning important information and the characters are in a position where they can't do anything about it. It's this weird situation where it's not exactly a cliffhanger but it isn't a satisfying ending. That being said, I can't wait to keep reading this series. I want to know everything and see how this series develops. I have the feeling it is just going to get better as it goes on and I cannot wait for the big payoff.

 I give Cinder by Marissa Meyer 8.5 out of 10

If you're in the minority if people who have not already read this series, there are still a few seats on the bandwagon for you so jump aboard! You should especially check it out if you enjoy fairytale retellings, science fiction, or books with unique worlds and interesting characters. What are your thoughts on Cinder? Leave me a comment and HAPPY READING!


  1. I am one of the few people who hasn't read this book. At this point, I am afraid that the hype will destroy the book for me, but all of the love has definitely got me intrigued.

  2. I just barely read this one and loved it! I agree with all your points too. But I want to add that I was reading at school waiting for class to start and laughed ridiculously loudly when Cinder does that one thing at the ball (remember that one thing?) and everyone was staring. That's how I know if a book is good: if everyone stares. :)