Cinder ~ Marissa Meyer

  • Title: Cinder
  • Author: Marissa Meyer
  • Series: Lunar Chronicles #3
  • Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction, YA
  • Format: Audiobook
  • Source: Library
  • Reviewed by: DarthVal
  • Rating: 4 out of 5

Description:  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.

Review:  When I saw the promos for the release of this book, I was instantly intrigued. First of all, the cover art is fantastic . . . the red shoe, the mechanical foot, and the title Cinder leave an impression of a steampunk adaptation of a fairy tale. I love both steampunk and fairy tale adaptations, so putting this on my to be read shelf was a no-brainer.

Further examination revealed the plot to be less steampunk and more Sci-Fi (an equal substitution in my book). However, I was taken aback by the Young Adult (YA) labels. Crap. Ok, so this got pushed to the back of the TBR shelf.

Once I finally got around to reading Cinder (listening to it on audio book), I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. There were so many things that I typically don’t like: plot predictability, a touch of YA angst, and a less than tidy conclusion. And yet, I found it be a charming futuristic retelling of Cinderella. The youthful voice of the audio book narrator lent itself well to the story. I believe the quality of the narration enhanced the entertainment factor of the story.

The fact that Cinderella was my favorite of the classic fairy tale when I was younger and way more girlie may have also contributed to my enjoyment. (I think my Cinderella fixation may have been tied to my innate compulsive dancing disorder, you know, with the ball and all). Regardless, I found myself so pulled into the story that I could not stop reading (er, listening).

The primary plot played out very much like the classic tale, complete with wicked step mothers, a prince, and a ball. However, there were also hints of Snow White thrown into the mix, with the legend of missing Lunar Princess who may or may not have escaped a deadly fate at the hands of the evil Lunar Queen. Perhaps we will see a future tome devoted to the Snow White tale?

Meyer also did a great job of blending in more depth and complexity to this fairy tale story. For example, the author used cyborgs and androids to address themes of prejudice and oppression. Meyer also dabbled with concepts of political intrigue, from the delicate balance of maintaining world peace, to the menace threat of the Lunar court, and the struggle of facing a deadly plague.

Other than Cinder and Dr. Erland, most of the characters lacked depth. I was ok with this, given the fairy tale nature of the story. However, I would have liked a little more development for Prince Kai, whose character felt a bit like a leaf blowing in the wind. Despite being one-dimensional, it was hard not fall in love with little Iko who I hope will be revived in future books. But, the best character award has to go to Linh Mei (it IS her book after all). Also known as Cinder, she was a wonderful character; hopeful, generous, and kind despite her battered and bruised body and spirit.

I would be remiss if I did not mention my misgivings about the lack of Asian culture in the book I know that the story claims that the Eastern Commonwealth is a blend of many cultures, but given the obviously clearly Asian-inspired names and settings, it felt like a half-hearted attempt to differentiate the story from typical Western culture fairy tales.

I can see where this would be a great book for young adult readers, but the darker themes lend appear for adult readers who are young of heart rather than young of age. I hope the rest of the series has the same level of charm and appeal.