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.
Hardcover, 1st Edition, 390 pages
Published January 3rd 2012 by Feiwel & Friends
Four stars: A fantastic, futuristic spin on an old fairy tale.
Tired from a long day of toiling in her mechanic repair booth, at the shopping district of Beijing, Cinder carefully unfastens the worn screws attaching her metal prosthetic foot. She vows to never wear that dreaded appendage again. It is much too small, it pinches and bites. She sits calmly, with loose wires hanging from her leg, waiting for the return of her trusted robotic friend, Iko, who is bringing her a new prosthesis. She enjoys the reprieve as she takes in the sights and sounds of the busy market. Her respite is interrupted by a handsome, intruder. She stares, tongue tied as her cyborg sensors inform her that the young man in the hooded sweatshirt, in front of her booth, is none other than Prince Kai, heir to the throne. He brings her his android, in need of repair. She was highly recommended to him as one of the best mechanics in Beijing. Cinder is in awe of the friendly royal. As he slinks back into the crowd she resumes her day, tinkering and repairing. A scream shrills through the air, the woman who runs the bakery booth, exhibits signs of the deadly lumos plague, an instant death sentence. A terror driven stampede evacuates the market within minutes. Cinder and Iko huddle quietly waiting for their chance to escape. The two finally sneak out and make home it safely. Cinder, is not your average girl, she is a cyborg, part human part machine. She has an aptitude for mechanics, thus she is forced to support her stepmother and step sisters. Her cyborg status relegates her to life as a second class citizen, bereft of privileges. Without warning the plague strikes her home and Cinder finds herself in a fight for her life. Will she survive the virulent plague?
What I Liked:
- I was completely drawn into Ms. Meyer's world. Cinder, is set in a futuristic Beijing. This book features a sci-fi aspect, with the inclusion of cyborg technology, the blend of humans with robotic technology. Spice it up with a bit of dystopia, which involves the repression of cyborgs living in a society ravaged by plague. Add in the world teetering on the brink of war, with the Lunar inhabitants of the moon. These elements fuel the anxiety driven feel of a dystopian story, that addicts of the genre crave, (myself included). Finally, this book offers an imaginative spin on the old fairy tale, Cinderalla. All these ideas blend to form the basis of Cinder. This book completely sucked me in!
- I admired Cinder. She is a girl with sass, spunk and a few mechanical grease spots. She is never without her tool belt. Often, when she is nervous, she has a habit of twirling a wrench on her finger. She is far from the usual demure, feminine depictions of Cinderella. I was excited to see that she wasn't a sympathetic character sitting around waiting, dreaming and wishing her way out of her current situation. Instead she was taking the bull by the horns, plotting a better life.
- I was thrilled that the relationship between Kai and Cinder, starts as a hesitant acquaintance, moving into a friendship. No fairy tale love at first sight, butterflies in the tummy, sparks flying and batting of eyelashes. This book establishes a real and believable bond between the two characters, with a hint of attraction, that starts as a little spark and grows into a tiny sputtering flame.
- It was interesting the way Ms. Meyer, reinvented all the integral parts of the old fairy tale. I won't spoil it for you, but it was exciting to see how the glass slipper, pumpkin coach, wicked stepmother etc. were retooled and inserted in the plot. In addition to the Cinderella story line, the author adds in some fantastic divergent plots. I was intrigued by the deadly illness sweeping through the world, as well as the building conflict with the mysterious moon inhabitants. Let me tell you, the wicked stepmother is pleasant, in comparison to the Lunar Queen. If you are thinking, I am not interested in reading a Cinderella story, think again. This book is a crisp, contemporary retooling of an old tale. Definitely, worth reading.
- Finally, the cover. I have been captivated by the unique cover of Cinder since it saw it months ago. I love it!
And The Not So Much:
- I enjoyed Ms. Meyer's futuristic vision but I felt her world building lacked detail. For instance, I would love to know more about the cyborg genetics and how they worked. There was not enough detail on the surroundings, the book takes place in Beijing but it lacked the flavor of China. There was not much mention of dress, culture or customs in this new age society. Plus, there so many items in the story that were not described in detail. What is a port? What is a hover? Tell me more about the droids. I never had a full gauge of Cinder's appearance, I was surprised to discover late in the story, she had a storage compartment in her leg. I knew little of the Lunar inhabitants, they remained a mystery. I would love to know more about these enigmatic citizens on the moon. The story needed further enrichment with descriptions and explanations.
- While I enjoyed the retooling of the Cinderella fairy tale, unfortunately it led to some predictability in the story. Ms. Meyer does an excellent job of spiffing up an old well-known fable, by adding some unfamiliar plot twists. Unfortunately, the big reveal comes as no surprise because Meyer's provides many details and hints along the way. It was too obvious how the events were set to unfold regarding Cinder's true identity.
- I loved Cinder's character until the climax. She lost a bit of her fire and spirit. She almost stopped fighting. In the beginning she is willing to take a stand against her stepmother, but later on in the book she relapses. I was disappointed in the way Cinder backed down to her stepmother. It was contradictory to her initial behavior.
- The ending, as I neared the final pages of the book, I was filled with a sinking dread, there was no way this story was going to wrap up with a neat resolution. To my dismay, it does indeed just end. Granted, it is not a terrible cliff hanger but the finale does not offer a definitive conclusion. This book started with strong promise, but the climax is nothing thrilling or climatic and the ending is a disappointment. Drawing the book to a more suitable and satisfying ending would have made this a five star book.
Cinder, was one of my coveted, debut author reads of 2012. I did enjoy this unique, novel twist on Cinderella. The sci-fi and dystopian elements blended in, made this a compelling read. I would recommend you pick it up and check it out, especially if you are looking for a new dystopian book. Just beware, you will be anxious to know when the next book will be released. Marissa Meyer is an author to watch. Her debut novel, shows she is a promising new talent. This is a strong, solid beginning to a new series. After reading Cinder, I pondered the possibility of this being made into a movie. I would love to see this version of Cinderella brought to the big screen!
"The night sky was clear, and though the lights from the city blocked out any stars, the sharp crescent moon lurked near the horizon, a sleepy eye squinting through the haze."
"He was the fantasy of every girl in the country. He was so far out of her realm, her world, that she should have stopped thinking about him the second the door had closed. Should stop thinking about him immediately. Should never think about him again, except maybe as a client- and her prince. And yet, the memory of his fingers against her skin refused to fade."
"Imagine there was a cure, but finding it would cost you everything. It would completely ruin your life. What would you do?"
"She was a cyborg, and she would never go to a ball."
At the time of this review, Amazon.com is offering the first five chapters for free. Go download the sample and see if the first few pages don't completely draw you into Cinder's world.