Hola! It’s time for a book review!
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 center 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 adore fairy tales. Always have. I also love fairy tales re-told. I love a well done retelling of a favorite classic, and they’re even better when there is a little twist thrown in. Cinder is Marissa Meyer’s debut novel and she has created a science fiction Cinderella and done it very well. What a bold and cool idea! Actually, parts of it reminded me of one of my favorite sci-fi shows of all time, Firefly. It was mainly the use of the Chinese language and the science fiction backdrop, but also the mix of the super sterile futuristic settings (like the research hospital) and the dirty, crowded medieval town-ish setting (like the market where Cinder’s booth is located). Additionally Cinder reminded me a little of Kaylee, from Firefly, who is a tomboyish mechanic but is also sweet and feminine like Cinder.
Cinder is a fun character. I like that she is both smart and strong but also deeply insecure and vulnerable. She knows who she is and works with what she has, but also is sharply aware of how the rest of the world views her. Cinder feels the pain of people treating her like she’s nothing, but doesn’t let it consume or inhibit her. Sometimes I thought she was a little whiny, in the way she buts heads with her evil stepmother, but it didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the story. It could have been the narrator’s interpretation of Cinder that I just wasn’t fond of. Overall, however the narrator, Rebecca Soler, did a great job and I actually liked her better in this story than others I’ve heard her narrate.
The story is set in a futuristic, and slightly dystopian, China. The city of New Beijing is exactly what I would think a crowded plague ridden city would be like – crowded, dirty, and bustling. But, on the other hand, New Beijing is also a bastion of technological innovation and scientific research. Knowing that China is a major world power today adds to the believability of this setting. Also, an Asian retelling of Cinderella makes the story more exotic than your average everyday European backdrop.
Romance. Yes it is a huge factor in every fairy tale. To be honest though, I wasn’t that impressed with Prince Kai. Maybe, there will be more of him to appreciate and get to know in the following books, but for now I think his character was a little bit lacking. Oh well.
I’ll also add that I loved the plot twist. Although I did suspect it earlier on, my guessing didn’t ruin the story for me. Actually I was so excited that I yelled, “I knew it! I knew it!” while driving (and listening).
Speaking of listening, I received the audiobook version of the Cinder from Macmillan Audio, which was so nice of them! Thank you to MacMillan! So, this book counts toward both the 2012 Debut Author Challenge and the 2012 Young Adult Audiobook Challenge. YAY!
Cinder is a read that will be enjoyed by older middle grade readers and up who are looking for a new and interesting take on a classic fairy tale.