Cinder

Cinder – Marissa Meyer

Release date: 3 January 2012
Rating: ★★★★★★★ – 7/10
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Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1) blurb:

Cinder, a gifted mechanic in New Beijing, is also a cyborg.  She’s reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s sudden illness.  But when her life becomes entwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s she finds herself at the centre of a violent struggle between the desires of an evil queen – and a dangerous temptation.

Cinder is caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal.  Now she must uncover secrets about her mysterious past in order to protect Earth’s future.

I feel the need to start this review by saying that I’m not really a sci-fi reader.  I still haven’t started The Illuminae Files (somewhat because they just delayed the last book) because deep down I’m terrified I won’t like it (no matter how much I love Mr Kristoff’s writing).  To put that in perspective, I loved Enchantment by Orson Scott Card when I was growing up – it is the primary reason that Sleeping Beauty is one of my favourite fairytales (and this retelling is spectacular), and so I read all the Alvin Maker books – but I couldn’t get through Ender’s Game to save my life.  I didn’t even watch Star Wars until I was 30, and TBH Zachary Quinto was the only reason I watched the Star Trek movie (also just want to point out that I have a deep love for sci-fi movies now).

So, I’m going to start with the bad first, so then it’s out of the way and we can talk out the good.  This book was ridiculously predictable.  I was 150 pages in and made three (maybe four, two were in one dot point) predictions on my Goodreads account.  Every single one of them came true.  That’s right my friends, at 150 pages in – less than one third of the book – I knew how it was going to end.  That’s really sad.  Mostly for me as a reader, but also for Meyer’s plot.  Where are the twists at the end to garner my interest?  To keep me coming back for more?  Let me tell you now, there were none.  In fact, I have some theories for the entire series, that I’m going to write somewhere so we can see how predictable the rest of the series is.  And this is where the review of said book has lost most of the points I took off.

That being said, it’s a pretty original concept for a fairytale retelling, and I quite enjoyed the (über predictable) storyline.  So, to summarise, the world went through World War IV 126 years prior to the start of this book.  The world is now divided into six congregated countries/regions that basically comprise of: Australia (woot! still on our own all the way down here); UK (I see Brexit also happened in this series); Europe (not surprising); Africa (predictable); the Americas (also predictable); and the Eastern Commonwealth (which I assume to be the bulk of Asia), which is where our story takes place.  Despite the year I take it no one still lives permanently on Antarctica (did global warming happen? Did it melt?).  However, there is a colony of people on the moon that have mystical (mutant?) powers.  And cyborgs are a thing, like, if you lost your leg in a factory accident then you’d get a new, metal leg.  However, apparently this renders you less than human now, so there’s a new type of racism at play.  And we all know the story of Cinderella, so there’s a good merge between the two.

Which takes us into Meyer’s writing style.  It’s good, I can’t really find fault with it (apart from the super predictable storyline – yes, I will stop banging on about it now).  There’s a good symmetry to the story as it’s not totally told from Cinder’s perspective, but it is primarily her point of view (narrated from third person).  There’s no inconsistency with language, it’s quite smooth and there’s no barriers with it being set into the future.  There’s even some cute little references, like the restored car being a “rusty orange” colour, quite like a pumpkin.

The characters are well developed – although the prince is a little two dimensional (but weren’t all Disney princes?).  Cinder, Iko and Dr Erland are really the heroes of the story, and you expect that baddies to be the evil stepmother and the two horrid stepsisters (tick, tick, cross in this case which was something different).  However there is that extra big bad as this is a four book series, and she appears to be a great baddie in the making.  I also really liked that one teensy crossover you got towards the end – I mean we assume that to be a future bigger character based on the books names, right? Cinder (Cinderella); Scarlet (Red Riding Hood); Cress (Rapunzel); and Winter (Snow White).  See, I’m vague with the spoilers?!

Overall the book was good – enjoyable, entertaining, sound writing.  It just had that one thing that I promised not to mention again, which was its only real downfall.Sixteen-year-old Cinder is considered a technological mistake by most of society and a burden by her stepmother. Being cyborg does have its benefits, though: Cinder’s brain interference has given her an uncanny ability to fix things (robots, hovers, her own malfunctioning parts), making her the best mechanic in New Beijing. This reputation brings Prince Kai himself to her weekly market booth, needing her to repair a broken android before the annual ball. He jokingly calls it “a matter of national security,” but Cinder suspects it’s more serious than he’s letting on.

Although eager to impress the prince, Cinder’s intentions are derailed when her younger stepsister, and only human friend, is infected with the fatal plague that’s been devastating Earth for a decade. Blaming Cinder for her daughter’s illness, Cinder’s stepmother volunteers her body for plague research, an “honor” that no one has survived.

But it doesn’t take long for the scientists to discover something unusual about their new guinea pig. Something others would kill for.

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