Thursday, April 26, 2012
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
January 3, 2012; Feiwel & Friends
Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, the 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. (courtesy of Goodreads)
I shouldn't have liked Cinder. I don't like sci fi. I don't really like fairy tale re-tellings (rather I'm not passionate about them). Yet I loved Cinder. It is one of my favorite books of 2012 thus far. What does Cinder have going for it?
1. Strong Female Character: Cinder is a fabulous leading lady. As a cyborg, she is an outcast in society. Not only that, she's an outcast in her own family. Her adopted father is dead, her stepmother and one of her stepsisters hate her, and she works for them as a virtual slave. Cinder does occasionally bemoan her lot in life, but mostly she accepts it and does as best she can. She is sarcastic, witty, and smart. She's an mechanic (Girl power!) whose ability is so respected that Prince Kai seeks her out. Cinder takes risks to protect those she loves, especially her stepsister Peony (the nice one). She has a nice balance between being aggressive and unsure.
2. Great Guy: I loved Prince Kai. Part of the story is told from his viewpoint since his father's illness and the possible war/treaty/marriage with the Lunar society takes place is crucial to the plot. He's kind, funny, and easy going. He is immediately drawn to Cinder not only because she's pretty, but because she is smart and doesn't grovel. Kai has the weight of the world on his shoulders but he accepts his fate and seeks to do the best for his kingdom. He's the type of guy that Cinder deserves, and I can't wait to see what happens to their relationship in future books.
3. Cinderella Legend: While I don't really like fairy tale re-tellings that much, Cinderella is one of my favorite stories (Who doesn't love singing, sewing mice? And pumpkins!). Marissa Meyer has an entirely original take on the Cinderella story, which has been told a million times in a million ways. I particularly liked the fact that she didn't feel the need to stick too close to the traditional story. For example, Cinder only has one evil stepsister. The other stepsister is sweet and loves Cinder. Also, the Cinderella plot is only part of a much bigger story line that encompasses a potential multi-world, multi-species war.
4. World Building: For the most part, the world building in Cinder is excellent. It's set far in the future, post-Apocalyptic, but it doesn't have the dystopian feel to it. My one criticism is that cyborgs should have been defined earlier on in the book. I had a good idea of what a cyborg was, but not being a sci fi reader, I wasn't entirely clear. It didn't affect my ability to follow the plot, but it was occasionally jarring. The fantasy world becomes much more complicated with the introduction of the Lunar society, a clan of humans who live on the moon and have evolved into a different species. There is much about their Lunar world that is not explored in this book, but we are told just enough to dispel confusion and create excitement for future books.
5. Writing: The book flows by so quickly that you finish it before you realize. Partly it's because the writing is so smooth and partly it's because you can't put it down once you start it. Marissa Meyer mostly does a good job of spacing out back stories, character development, and action (with the exception of the cyborg definition mentioned above). There are plenty of twists and turns to keep you interested and surprised. Obviously there are aspects of the plot that you know are going to happen since we all know the story of Cinderella. Plus the major plot twist was really easy to guess. But the journey to get there was unexpected and a roller coaster ride of fun.
I can't recommend Cinder enough. It is accessible for the non-sci fi or fantasy fan. It features a strong girl who may like having a handsome prince but definitely doesn't need one. Plus it goes far beyond the traditional Cinderalla story. A great debut.