Review: Cinder

41oy8sS+ZlLBook: Cinder                   Author: 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.

Cinder is an inventive, futuristic twist on a tale as old as time.

I had high hopes for Cinder, due to my love for warped retellings of fairy tales. However this was less of a re-telling and more of a completely different story that is very loosely based on Cinderella due to its connection of a prince, a horrid step-mother and a lost shoe (well in this case a lost foot). Yet it still worked.
Despite my high hopes I did have a few reservations when I initially started this book, mainly because my love for sci-fi doesn’t quite stretch to cyborgs. Nonetheless Marissa illustrated the sci-fi concept perfectly though the futuristic setting of New Beijing, China, after the fourth world war, which works so well as I could completely imagine the new set up of countries as a reality. However this setting didn’t live up to its full potential as the culture and inhabitants were substantially underdeveloped, with no connection to China besides the name. It is a world entirely unexplored and not worthy of the “asian” title Meyer gives it. Furthermore, the “pandemic” of Letumosis isn’t extensively explained which diminished a lot of the plots believability for me. I mean would a prince really be casually strolling around a crowded place if there was a widespread outbreak of a deadly disease??? NO. Back to my main issue – the cyborgs, of which I was pleasantly surprised with as Meyer uses the concept of a cyborg as a way to demonstrate how people who aren’t conventionally normal are alienated in society, rather than just going full sci-fi crazy with a load of robots and aliens (although technically there are lunars which live on the moon).

Primarily my favourite part is how Cinder ultimately acts as her own fairy godmother (along with a tiny bit of help from Dr Erland at the end) and goes to the ball not to dance with a prince, but to save everyone from Levana. She is a smart and tough heroine with a strong sense of empathy which is in no way a weakness. However, I was not so convinced on the character of Kai. It felt as if Marissa had just thrown Kai in the plot to fill the role of “prince charming” and didn’t bother to fully develop the character with a backstory as much of his past and family remain ambiguous.

I found Cinder to be unfortunately very predictable as plot twists and true identities were made so fairly obvious from the beginning that when the book reaches a climactic revelation I was left a bit dissapointed rather than excited.
Marissa does however capture my intrigue in regards to the lunars, specifically the evil queen Levana who seems to have many hidden layers to her (and no that was not a pun about the veil she wears to hide her face) that I wanted to discover. Which you now can thanks to the novella Fairest which delves into Levana’s life before she was queen and what shaped her into who she became.

In spit of my criticism, I am interested in how Meyer will establish the characters of Scarlet, Cress and Winter, and how she will intertwine these fairytales into the world of Cinder.

Cydney Harding

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