& Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Cinder by Marissa Meyer. Young Adult Sci-Fi/Fantasy. Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Cinder by Marissa Meyer. Young Adult Sci-Fi/Fantasy. Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

The Book Itself: Thank goodness this YA cover doesn’t have a generic-pretty-girl-face made up to look like a futuristic Cinderella. I hate it when generic-pretty-girl-faces try to sell YA books. The image of a mechanically-aided foot, is striking, and the red heel (instead of the expected glass slipper) is interesting. The color theme is one the rest of the series’ covers picks up: a deep blue/black and a bright red. Great idea to tie them all together.

My Review: 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.

Yeah, yeah, I know that I’m late to the game with Cinder. It’s been out since 2012, there are at least four or five other series just released this week I should be commenting on, right?

Well too bad, because I like this one. 🙂 Even more than being a retelling of a classic fairy tale, this one is steampunk, girl power, and tense scientific mystery/class warfare tale all in one. Sure, some of the plot twists were easy to see coming, but overall I thought it was original and well-done. I’ll continue with the series.

Cinder is a mechanic, although you don’t see an awful lot of her doing what she does. I think she fixes two phones/tablets by slamming them against the counter, only to have the tough little things blink on and work good as new. She works on her android pal, ­­­­Iko, and her own bits and pieces of electronic doodads and limbs (exactly how much of her is metal I can’t remember. It tripped some readers up, not knowing if she was more human than robot. It was hard to know if her feelings worked the same way as a human if things like her tears and her emotions would send up alerts in her vision should they threaten to overwhelm. It didn’t bother me too much).

Her capital “L” Love Interest, the Prince Charming of our tale, is okay. I found Cinder to be far more interesting, and sort of wished she’d gone the independent woman route, and didn’t need a man to do all this stuff she was already going to kick ass doing. But then it wouldn’t be a retelling of Cinderella, so there’s that.

Plus, Prince Kai’s storyline sets up the story’s world for further installments. Our protagonists are all in sticky situations, with not a lot of options before them. And the options they do have…don’t look so good.

What I particularly liked about the story as a whole was, as I mentioned, Cinder and her somewhat atypical tough girl story. She’s not the meek Cinderella, sweeping up the house and mending hemlines. She’s a mechanic, working for money of her own, and for money to buy her own parts and help out those around her. And she’s got more than one enemy working against her. She’s got a ton of enemies, actually. More than seems possible to overcome. Which just makes it more interesting.

There are times when it got a little too YA-ey for me. Rolling of the eyes moments like gushing how attractive the prince looks when he’s just dressed in a hoodie (for all the prince has to do, it does seem awfully easy (and convenient) for him to dress in “disguise” (read: he wears a hoodie) and leave the castle to mingle among the commonfolk. Especially when Cinder recognizes him upon first glance…mighty convenient there…). Revelations that were pretty easy to see. Like a prophecy introduced midway through that of course has to do with our heroine. That she is obviously shocked by, but this reader wasn’t. I just sighed and turned the page. I’d guessed it fifty pages back, what’s the big surprise?

The ending, in its own cliffhanger-y way, is more satisfying that any “plot twist.” I’m honestly worried for the characters and how things will pan out. It’s going to make me go out and buy/borrow the next installments. As a whole, the narrative is satisfying and well done. While the characters can grate and confuse at times, I want to know how they’re going to get out of this. And I’m intrigued by the new people about to be introduced: a version of Red Riding Hood and her Big Bad Wolf (in 2013’s Scarlet), and later, Rapunzel (in 2014’s Cress).

My Grade B


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