Friday, July 13, 2012
Author: Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #1
Genre: Fantasy, science fiction, spinoffs, YA
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends, 2012
Read for: Once Upon a Time Challenge
Cinder is a mechanic in what was once China and is now an amalgamation of Asian countries. Reviled by her stepmother and neighbors for being a cyborg, she contents herself with working on machines -- a skill for which she is renowned -- and spending time with her two friends, android Iko and stepsister Peony. However, Cinder's life changes when Prince Kai ducks into her shop. Suddenly she is mixed up in interplanetary politics. Oh, and there's a plague.
Okay, I have to attribute the last line of that summary to Marissa Meyer herself, who came to the Provo Library on the Fierce Reads tour. When she was describing her book, she went into most of the details and then added, "Oh, and there's a plague," at the end like an afterthought. 'Twas amusing. But I digress.
If you haven't figured it out yet, Cinder is a futuristic, machine-filled retelling of Cinderella. There's a ball, a wicked stepsister out to get the prince, and an appendage left on the stairs at midnight. However, Cinder incorporates many other fascinating elements into the plot. I was impressed with the way Marissa Meyer managed to use the framework of the popular fairy tale while creating such a unique and unexpected story.
I enjoyed Cinder immensely. She is completely down to earth, not expecting anything out of the ordinary out of herself because of the fact that she is a lowly cyborg (although I don't know why they are lowly. They have so many extra talents that the "normal" people don't have!). Even when she begins to learn secrets about her past that indicate that she is actually as extraordinary as a person could be, she is straightforward and likable.
I also liked Kai. I'll admit part of that is because of his name -- it definitely came up when my husband and I were discussing boys' names for our baby. However, I also appreciated that he was not a snob, that he valued skill (thus, seeking out Cinder when he needed a job to be performed well) and that he wasn't a snob about who he made friends with. It was also interesting to see him grow from a relatively carefree prince to someone with responsibility for millions of people. His willingness to sacrifice himself for the good of others was endearing and made him truly a worthwhile character.
I did not love Levana. You might be thinking, "NO kidding," but I do have a penchant for enjoying the odd nastily written character. However, for me Levana was not a character that I loved to hate. I know the powerful, glamour-shrouded queen of the Lunars was essential to the plot of the story, but I despised every moment she was on the page. She was the epitome of sliminess.
My main complaint with Cinder (other than the utter repulsiveness of Levana) was that the story ended in a messy spot. I know that with series, authors tend to cut off at pivotal points. However, in general (and I know there are many, many exceptions to this rule) there is some sense of closure -- or at least, I appreciate when there is. Cinder leaves us hanging in the middle of everything, with nothing resolved. The ending wasn't such that I was throwing the book across the room like some certain trilogies, or that I was so desperate for more that I could have cried at the wait. I was more just confused, thinking, "That was it?" I know that more will happen as the series continued, but I did wish the ending was tied up a bit more nicely.
Overall, however, Cinder is a fun and refreshing take on an old fairy-tale, using a completely original tactic to tell the story. If you love unique fairytale retellings, you won't want to miss Cinder or the remaining books in the series.
Warnings: Maybe a bit of violence? I am having difficulty remembering anything, so there must not be much to warn about.