January 28, 2016
Book Review of the Month: Cinder
First, a quick overview of how this is going to work. Like my classic book review, this will go for at least a year. Only this one will be at the end of the month. I plan on telling you a little about the book, then my opinion of it. Each book will also receive a rating, from one to four stars. So let's dive in.
From the sound of the title, you might think this was a story of fire and destruction. But if you take a look at the cover it reveals its true nature. A shoe, the name Cinder- the facts begin to click. If you guessed this was a Cinderella spin-off, you're right. If you didn't, now you know.
Our tale's setting is the future after World War 4 where the world has divided itself into empires and alliances which are basically the same places as they are now, except with different names. The moon has also been colonized and the people who live there have evolved to have special powers. They are generally hated by the people of Earth.
Cinder is a cyborg, a fact which is also hinted at by the cover. She lives in New Beijing, which is an interesting twist. The classic pieces are all there- the evil stepmother, two stepsisters, no father, a handsome prince, and a royal ball. But one of the stepsisters is nice and, due to story telling law, dies. Cinder can't tell the prince she's a cyborg because there is a lot of prejudice against her kind. She's adopted into her family, if you can even call it that. There's even the famous fallen off shoe- only it's not a shoe, it's a foot.
The plot goes something like this. Once upon a time, Cinder meets the prince at the market, where he asks her to fix his android. When she does, Cinder discovers interesting information the android was collecting. She has to decide what to do about that and the fact that she is in love with Prince Kai. When her stepmother becomes angry at Cinder for "killing her sister" after she catches the plague, which was no fault of hers, she gives her over to the plague research. Cyborgs have little rights in the future, think African Americans from the early 20th century except in the future. A doctor there finds she is immune to the plague and so leads to research about Cinder. In the end Cinder must go to the royal ball to warn Prince Kai about the evil queen. This isn't your easy fairy tale where the hero must overcome a few obstacles to gain the prince and eternal happiness. There is depth, multiple plot lines, and answers that don't get answered until other books in the series (there are three others and an e-book).
Thought about Cinder
This is a masterpiece of a book. Marissa Meyer is an excellent story teller. Her plot is well-woven and her characters feel real. She expertly brings you into Cinder's thought and emotions and keeps you there, even though she is a cyborg and has different abilities than you or me. But even being a cyborg doesn't mean she can do anything, which is also nice. Her world is well developed and even though I don't think we could evolve bio-electricity manipulation powers from living on the moon, she makes it feel plausible. I also enjoy how she takes the story of Cinderella and twists it just enough that you can still see what it was. My favorite twist are probably how she's a cyborg and it takes place in China. There are many versions of the Cinderella tale from all around the world and so it's nice to see one in a different setting besides the US. It's original and we need more stories like it.
Do I have any complaints about this book? Maybe, if I read it again and looked hard enough. I might say her stepmother seems to mean to Cinder for no reason but that changes when you read through the rest of the series. As I said, special powers don't seem like a possibility, but this a different world. Besides, I like special abilities. Basically, I think it's a nice, quick read. Quick, because you can't put it down to do anything else. And then you go and get the rest of the series and read straight through them too. A few months later you'll get them out again and read them for a second time. But this is only a guess. I've only read it once myself- for now.
This is counted as a YA novel so I would recommend it for anyone 13 and up. It is geared towards girls but I'm sure there are some boys who would love it too. Wikipedia counts it as YA, romance, science fiction, and dystopian. I only agree with the first and third one. Dystopian normally implies a darker book and horrible society. Yes, there are some dark elements, but I wouldn't say it was a true dystopian novel. As for the romance, that's only a small part.
Fans of rewritten fairy tales, twisted fairy tales, a rough and tumble heroine, and futuristic fiction will enjoy this book.