Second Look: Marissa Meyer’s CINDER

I gravitate towards anything that has to do with Cinderella.  Apparently when I saw this title, all I did was scream A CINDERELLA RETELLING! and bought it.  I didn’t realize it was science-fiction, a genre I usually don’t read.  Ever.

The first time I started reading this, Katie and I were in Philly for the weekend.  It didn’t hold my attention.  But seeing as it’s one of the Best Books so far this year (on Amazon), I figured I’d give it another go.  This time, I got through it – through it felt like it took me forever.  Again, I blame the sci-fi genre, not the writing or anything else.

Set in New Beijing, Cinder is a cyborg who’s the best mechanic in the area.  The novel starts on a market day when Prince Kai comes to her to have his android fixed.  After his departure, the woman across the street breaks out with signs of The Plague.  Thus Meyer sets up the main problems for the entire novel.  (Well done, actually – to get it all out in the first 5 pages or so!)

The novel loosely bases around the Cinderella fairy tale.  The evil stepmother.  At least one evil stepsister (though the younger stepsis is actually kind of sweet – of course, this means she has to…spoiler!)

As the novel progresses, a relationship starts to form between Kai and Cinder.  She continually keeps him at arm’s length because he doesn’t know she’s a cyborg.  He does find out in the end, which is a little disappointing with his reaction.

The main conflict is the plague and that it’s killing millions of people across Earth.  A cure is offered to Kai by Queen Levana, the Queen of the Lunars (from the planet Moon).  She’s a despicable woman and the reader will want to rip her head off.  Guaranteed.   However, Cinder ALSO has a cure.  She’s immune to the plague!

Other important things of note:  There was a ridiculous cliffhanger that both made me go OMG WHAT HAPPENS IN AFRICA??! and feeling like there were too many things (ie: Prince Kai/Cinder) left untidied up.  Apparently CINDER is the first in a four book series called THE LUNAR CHRONICLES.  I really should research more fully before reading.

The writing was fluid.  Meyer really has a talent.  The story, while not always adhering to the Cinderella tale, is good and all of the characters are somehow linked together.  There were a lot of twists and unexpected things (and some expected) that occurred throughout.  CINDER really does keep your interest in that way.

I was unhappy about the ending, but at the same time I liked it.  I liked that there was a cliffhanger that so easily will lead into Book 2.  However, I didn’t like that there wasn’t resolution between Kai and Cinder.  After thinking about it, the next book is moving onto another retelling and I think it would have been better to give Cinder’s story resolution – even if it’s bad – in that way.  Ultimately, I’m a little unsatisfied because I probably won’t read the next books.

I’d recommend this for anyone who’s a sci-fi fan.  It had a lot of feel of Star Wars to it, IMO.  The storyline is tight and there’s a lot of weave with character and plot.  But if you don’t like sci-fi (like me, mostly), I’d stay away.  It’s a great concept – really is! – but the sci-fi setting got to me a little bit.  Again, not my preference.



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