AUTHOR: Marissa Meyer
SERIES: Lunar Chronicles #1
GENRE: Young Adult-Science Fiction-Romance
PUBLISHER: Feiwel and Friends
PUBLICATION DATE: January 2012
READ DATE: November 2011
SOURCE: Netgalley ARC
SUMMARY: 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.
Retold fairytales are a popular genre in young adult and adult literature these days. Authors are taking the classic stories we all love and providing a new twist on them that reminds us how wonderful the stories are to begin with. Marissa Meyer's debut Cinder follows in this trend, but provides an original take on the Cinderella fairytale. She provides a twisted tale that mixes science fiction and dystopian fiction with a hint of steampunk on the side. What makes this book work for me is the detailed setting, the creative plot, and the well-drawn characters.
The world of Cinder is a futuristic one that takes place in Beijing. I personally love it when author's choose unique setting for their story. I have never been to Beijing so I can't verify what changes are made in this version, but I loved how Meyer described the contrasting worlds of glitz and glamour and the dreary and impoverished. I also was fascinated by the descriptions of the Lunar kingdom that is mentioned through myths in this installment, but I have a feeling it will become a primary setting later in the series. There was definite thought to how the world was depicted and how it related to the overall storyline.
Cinder's plot was organized and follows the original fairytale without making it a bit by bit retelling. There is a first meeting between the heroine and the prince, confrontations with the heroine's family, and the climatic ball. But, there is so much more going on in this book. Meyer adds fascinating subplots that provide some of the main conflicts in the story. The two main ones are the deadly illness that is slowly wiping out the population of the city and the impending attack from the ruthless Lunar kingdom. I also enjoyed seeing the little Cinderella tidbits that Meyer threw into the fray such as Cinder's orange "classic" car and her prosthetic foot that keeps falling off.
Cinder is a fabulous young adult heroine. She is realistic despite her cyborg structure. I really felt for her throughout the book and was rooting for her to achieve a happily ever after. There is a bit of a mystery surrounding her true identity and I found it to be pretty easy to solve. But, I do not believe that it deterred from the greatness that is her character and her story. I was especially intrigued by the way Meyer used the cyborg prejudices of Cinder's neighbors to mirror the neglect of the Cinderella from the fairy tale.
Prince Kaito, or Kai as he is known to Cinder, is a unique hero in the land of young adult literature. He is heroic, but deeply flawed. Insecurities about his future role as a ruler and his devotion to his people are prevalent throughout the story. I really enjoyed seeing him become a deeper character and a worthy partner for Cinder.
Levana, queen of the Lunar Kingdom, is being set up as a evil and wonderfully written villain. Meyer makes no qualms about how vicious she is underneath all the glamour and perfection. Her deviousness and treatment of Kai and his subjects were heartwrenching and perfectly suited to her character. There is not much solution to the problem of Levana in this book, but I can't wait to see how Cinder and the others make her pay for her cruelty.
Overall, I was fascinated by the story from beginning to end and can't wait to read more in this series. Great debut, Ms. Meyer!!
5+ OUT OF 5 STARS
"I’m sure I’ll feel much more grateful when I find a guy who thinks complex wiring in a girl is a turn-on."
2. Scarlet (Release Date: 2013)
3. Cress (Release Date: 2014)
4. Winter (Release Date: 2015)
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