Friday, September 08, 2017

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

In Cinder, a sci-fi re-imagining of the classic fairy tale, Cinderella, Linh Cinder is a cyborg mechanic living in New Beijing.  In the future, cyborgs are looked down upon by most of society, including Cinder's step-mother and sisters, but when she meets Prince Kai, who asks her to repair an android, she hides her identity from him and develops a bit of a crush.

Meanwhile, a devastating plague is sweeping Earth and political relations with the moon-based kingdom of Luna are crumbling.  When the Emperor of New Beijing dies from plague, Prince Kai becomes emperor and faces the possibility of a political marriage with the frightening queen of Luna, Levana.  A secret, lost Luna princess may be the only way to keep Queen Levana from executing a horrible plan to dominate both the moon and Earth.

Can Cinder survive the plague experiments, discover the truth about her mysterious childhood, and save the Prince?

The plot follows the classic, but with some interesting and creative twists.

The Facts

Author: Marissa Meyer
Genre: Sci-fi
Sub-Genres: Fantasy/Fairy tales/Adaptations
Length: 400 pages
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Date of Publication: January 3, 2012

My Opinion

When I first read this book, I wasn't so sure I would like it.  I love fairy tale adaptions for the most part, but I was worried this would be too juvenile, or follow the same disappointing pattern I've been seeing for "strong female characters" in books for teens, like Hunger Games or Twilight.  Luckily, this was not the case and I really enjoyed this read.  It's light and fun and Meyer takes the story in some really interesting and original directions, using the fairy tale as a more of a guideline than anything else, and I found that really refreshing.

The Good

There was more depth than I was expecting from a fairy tale adaptation, but the novel is also light and fun.  The romance aspect of the story is in focus, but its certainly not all there is.  There's also some horror, political intrigue and a lot of humor to be found.

Another thing I love is that pretty much all characters have agency. 
All too often in teen romance/sci-fi/fantasy stories you get blank slate, soppy characters who make no decisions of their own, but that is not the case with Meyer's work.  Cinder is far from a shrinking violet, despite the horrible treatment she's received from her stepfamily, her android friend, Iko, is incredibly (almost annoyingly) spunky and even Prince Kai, who desperately needs rescuing from his upcoming arranged marriage does what he can to protect his kingdom and foil the plans of his future wife.

The Not So Good

It's not super subtle and can sometimes be a little (okay, very) cheesy.  The antagonist, Levana, can come off as over the top evil, and hard sci-fi fans will probably hate the more fantastical aspects of this book.  It is, in many ways, a mild YA romance, but not so much that I felt like I wanted to throw the book across the room.

Should You Read This Book?

I'd have to say yes.

Cinder is a fun, quick read that is surprisingly empowering for girls, compared to a lot of similar stuff going on in the YA fantasy/sci-fi genre right now.   It's a bit of a change from your standard dystopian stories we're seeing a lot of, which is great.  I think this is a wonderful start to a pretty awesome series of books, the Lunar Chronicles, each featuring a new fairy tale that builds into a plot of epic proportions.

Other Useful Information:

Bechdel Test: Pass

Helpful Tropes: All Nations Are Super Powers, Ambiguously Human, Artificial Limbs, Biological Weapons Solve Everything, Casual Interplanetary Travel, Cool Starship, Culture Clash, Cyborg, Fantastic Caste System, Fantastic Romance, Fictional United Nations, Magic Genetics

Links: Wikipedia Entry, Goodreads



1 comment:

Frederick Ellrod said...

I agree. The rest of the series is pretty good too!