I had seen Marissa Meyer’s Cinder on the shelves of the bookstores I’ve haunted in the past year, and the name alone was enough to intrigue me. My grandmother likes to tell me that when I was a little girl I loved Disney’s Cinderella so much that I thought I was Cinderella, and even though I do not think I am Cinderella any more, (I’m more of a Rapunzel kind of girl now. Or maybe Belle. No, Rapunzel. She’s cooler.), I haven’t lost my love for fairy tales, Grimm or otherwise.
But I didn’t know what Cinder was about, and it wasn’t until I actually picked up the book that I even noticed that the foot in the slipper on the front cover is made of metal not bone. Which made me all the more curious.
Then a friend of mine read it. He didn’t say anything about it, but just knowing he had read it made me want to read it.
But I kept hesitating. Then about 2 weeks ago I saw it was now in paperback. I also saw that it was only $9.99 (another reason why I read YA books: they’re more affordable than the $15.99 novels for adults).
Just before my trip to the Bahamas (which was great, thanks for asking), I made a special trip to Barnes & Noble and picked up a copy.
I read it in 1 day. Granted, I didn’t do much else that day except sit in my swimsuit on the deck of a cruise ship, but I didn’t really want to do anything else.
Even in the future, the story begins with Once Upon a Time…
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…
Sixteen-year-old Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past and is reviled by her stepmother. 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. Because there is something unusual about Cinder, something that others would kill for.
Setting: New Beijing in the Eastern Commonwealth, a few decades after World War IV. For those of us in 2013, the Eastern Commonwealth appears to be most of Eastern Asia.
Cinder—a cyborg and the adopted daughter of Linh Adri. She works as a mechanic alongside her family’s android to pay for Adri’s frivolous lifestyle.
Prince Kai—the crown prince of the Eastern Commonwealth. Kai’s father, the emperor, is suffering from a fatal plague that is ravaging the earth. He first seeks Cinder out because he needs an android to repair, and she’s the best in the business.
Linh Adri–Cinder’s stepmother, although she’s really more of her adopted mother. In debt, Adri makes Cinder work as a mechanic so that she doesn’t have to. Adri’s husband took Cinder in and before he died, he told Adri to take care of her. However, Adri treats Cinder cruelly, partly because she is a cyborg.
Linh Pearl–Adri’s eldest daughter. She doesn’t like Cinder, either, and she also treats her badly.
Linh Peony–Adri’s youngest daughter, Peony loves Cinder, although she is a little naive and ignorant over the prejudices against cyborgs like Cinder.
Dr. Erland–Employed by the emperor to search for a cure for Letumosis, the plague, Dr. Erland instigates a “cyborg draft”–picking cyborgs at random and selecting them for testing and research.
Queen Levana–The queen of Lunar, a human settlement on the moon, Levana is cruel and ruthless in maintaining her power. She seeks an alliance with the Commonwealth through a marriage to Prince Kai.
What’s Good About Cinder
- I loved the references to Cinderella and other fairy tales. Some of them were obvious, but others were a little harder to spot. There were also allusions to elements of the Cinderella story that were changed to integrate with the world Meyer has created, such as Cinderella’s magical pumpkin and especially her glass slipper.
- I loved exploring the world of the story. It was very Firefly, which is a favorite of the author according to her bio at the end of the book. I also loved that this was not a Cinderella in Europe or in the USA but Asia. I found that to be very refreshing.
- I also liked that Cinder’s “evil stepmother” was not really that evil. Her “evilness” had more to do with the prejudices of the world. Cinder’s treatment at the hands of her stepmother were lawful, and Cinder has a very real fear of Kai treating her badly because of “what” she is rather than “who” she is.
- I liked that the strikes against Cinder were more than just being an orphan raised by a cruel woman. They are strikes that Kai, regardless of whether or not he loves her, cannot ignore.
- I liked that Kai was not your typical prince charming. He wasn’t spoiled or ignorant of common life, nor was he some noble yet unapproachable knight in shining armor. Instead, Kai interacts with the commoners (apparently quite frequently), is very down-to-earth, and views his role as both prince and future emperor as one of servitude rather than power.
- I enjoyed Iko, the android who forgets she’s not human.
What’s Bad About Cinder
- Why is Kai so friendly with the commoners, though?
- Call it magic, call it science, call it manipulated energy, what was the deal with this bioelectricity of the Lunars? It seemed a little silly and out of place in such a technology-driven world. But then again, I really only like “magic” in my sci-fi stories when it’s the Force in Star Wars. The rest of the time I want Firefly. Or Titan A.E.
(I guess, however, the superstitions and “magic” of the Lunars was in keeping with the controversy that often surrounds fairy tales. You know, the idea that princess stories promote weak girls who are focused on image, wealth, and marriage. The Lunars might be a good way in showing how something so shallow can be quite nasty when it takes over your life.)
I’d give this book 3 out of 5 stars. It was interesting enough to keep me entertained while I was reading it, and I am interested in finding out what happens in the rest of the series, but it wasn’t amazing. Like I said, I think I can wait to read Book 2 until it’s out in paperback.
I do think it is a very fun take on the Cinderella fairy tale, and I really enjoyed the characters and world. I heard that there is interest in adapting it for the silver screen, and yes, I would go see it.
I think this would be a good book for people who love revamped fairy tales, cyborgs, or Whedonesque sci-fi.