Cinder by Marissa MayerFeiwel & Friends
Book One in The Lunar Chronicles
Science Fiction, YA, Romance
Published January 1, 2012
Source: Purchased ebook
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One of the first books I considered when I decided I was going to do a Cinderella themed week of reviews. This has been sitting on my TBR shelf for far too long.
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 hits many of the Cinderella fairy tale tropes. We've got a girl being treated as, basically, a slave. Adopted when she was 11, only to have her 'father' die and leave her in the care of a woman who did not want a cyborg ward, Cinder's been forced to truly earn her keep. Though Cinder loves one of her stepsisters, the other is as selfish and 'evil' as her stepmother. The book also features its own version of Prince Charming, a cyborg foot in place of the glass slipper, a fancy ball celebrating a national festival and a sweet robot in place of a fairy godmother. Cinder has a great deal of agency, more so than Cinderella, I'd say. She's also got quite the mystery regarding her own history to unravel, as well as some very fine lines to walk to avoid things like being executed, experimented on or arrested. Tricky business! I'm giving this one four Glass Slippers out of five because the book lacks the fairy tale resolution that a good Cinderella story needs.
What I liked most about Cinder is that it felt, as I read it, to be rather unusual. I haven't read much YA science fiction, particularly of this futuristic but not space-oriented type. I liked the ideas of cyborgs, androids and lunar colonies. There were definitely some big gaps in the worldbuilding for me - I didn't have a strong sense of the community Cinder lived in nor of the prevailing culture. The monarchies felt a little odd - what provokes the return to this form of government? - as did the insistence on seeing cyborgs as less than human. Certainly we don't consider people who have artificial limbs now as sub-human so what provokes this shift in attitude?
Cinder was a bit slow to get moving, but once I got through the first third or so, I was into it, and eager to find out exactly how things would turn out. The plot was reasonably predictable, but no less enjoyable for that fact. I only wished that Cinder would figure things out a little more quickly so that I would learn sooner how she'd handle it all. The romance also was... questionable for me. I didn't buy into it - there wasn't enough chemistry or interaction between the Prince and Cinder for me to get on board. Hopefully this will be better fleshed out in future books.
The story ends on a cliffhanger, which I did not expect. I thought that the series was a collection of related, but complete stories, particularly as I understand each book focuses on a new girl's perspective. I'm curious to see what will happen in Scarlet (which I already have because I grabbed it when Chapters had it on a big discount), but I'm kind of irked that the overarching plot with the evil Queen, Prince and Cinder wasn't resolved in this book, nor, it seems, will it be resolved until the final book in the series.
Cinder was not the mind-blowing YA science fiction story that I was hoping it would, but I still found it to be quite entertaining and enjoyable. I want to spend more time with these characters - which is good because they have more story to share with me.
For fans of science fiction, YA, apparently Sailor Moon (some of the inspiration)
But don't just take my word for it! I grabbed a few links to other blog reviews of Cinder:
The Book Smugglers
Fantasy Book Critic