Friday, 24 January 2014

Review | Cinder by Marissa Meyer

by Marissa Meyer

My Rating: 

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.

Despite finishing it in the final month of 2013, Marissa Meyer's Cinder was most definitely one of my favourite reads of last year.

Like many people all around the world I grew up on the Grimm's Fairy Tales, so when there was a sudden boom of fairy tale retellings in the publishing world I was ecstatic! There's definitely no lack of fiction based on Cinderella - Gail Carson Levine's Ella Enchanted and Gregory Maguire's Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister being just two examples - it's one of those stories that everyone knows. Besides, who doesn't love an underdog?

What's brilliant about Meyer's retelling is that it's just so original. In Cinder our Cinderella - obviously shortened to 'Cinder' - is a cyborg mechanic whose cruel stepmother sells her to the authorities, so that they can use her for medical testing, in an attempt to find a cure for the plague which is killing thousands across New Beijing and the world. The problem is all the cyborgs that have gone before her have died.

Life gets pretty hard for Cinder. Her stepsister Peony, whom she loves, falls ill, she starts to develop feelings for the handsome Kai, Prince of New Beijing, when the two keep bumping into each other, and on top of all that the evil Queen Levana, who just so happens to live on the moon, journeys to Earth with the intention of marrying Kai after the death of his sick father.

The thing I loved most about this novel was Cinder herself. She wasn't the typical 'Cinderella' figure, instead she had a certain independence to her and a brilliant sense of humour. Because Meyer made her so likeable it was even more heartbreaking when everything started to go wrong for her - particularly during the heart-wrenching scenes involving her and Prince Kai near the end of the novel.

The Prince himself was also a pleasant surprise. I've often found in fairy tale retellings that the heroines tend to be incredibly three dimensional characters - which is wonderful - but their love interests often turn out rather samey; a lot of the time they are your typical 'Prince Charming'. Kai, however, was given scenes in the novel in which Cinder was not present, giving him the chance to develop as a character and not only as a love interest.

I also loved Iko, Cinder's mechanical sidekick and friend, who is kind of the Fairy Godmother of the tale, and encourages Cinder when the rest of the world tries to tear her down.

Our villain, Queen Levana, was a little typical in terms of a fairy tale villain, but I felt as though she worked as a homage towards all the Evil Queens, Wicked Stepmothers and Witches that came before her, and she was certainly sufficiently threatening for the story. I can see she's going to be the cause of even more trouble in the future!

It's not only Meyer's characters that are strong, her worldbuilding is also fantastic. New Beijing and the other new continents of the world, all of which came about after yet another World War, are both far enough away from what we know for the sake of the novel's science fiction genre, and close enough for us to see the similarities between Cinder's world and our own. I can't wait to explore other parts of the world in the rest of the series!

So if I loved the novel that much, why did I give it 4.5 stars instead of a full 5? Well I gave it a slightly lower rating for two reasons: 1) Because I worked out the twist concerning Cinder's identity pretty early on in the novel and 2) Because I have a feeling The Lunar Chronicles is going to be ones of those series that just gets better and better, so I want to save up my 5 stars for future use!

The novel's one flaw, if we really want to call it that, is that it can be a little predictable in places, but it's so fun and cool and exciting that I just don't care! I adored this novel, and I can't wait to get my hands on Scarlet and for the release of Cress next month!

Thanks for reading! J.

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