Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Book One of the Lunar Chronicles
Published January 3, 2012
Genres: Fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction
Buy this book through Amazon

I interchanged between listening to the audiobook through Audible and reading it as an ebook on my Kindle Paperwhite and paperback.

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.

“At this time, the movie rights have been optioned and the studio is looking to attach a director.” –Marissa Meyer (source)

“But if there was one thing she knew from years as a mechanic, it was that some stains never came out.” pg. 299

I think we can all agree that it’s hard to write the first book to a series, especially within the sci-fi/fantasy genre.  You have to create a world believable enough, introduce characters likable enough, and lay the foundation of a plot complicated enough to warrant multiple books, all the while not giving away too much.  It’s all about balance–too much and readers don’t feel inclined to read the rest of the books, too little and readers feel cheated of their time and money.

Cinder, the first book to the Lunar Chronicles (also, Marissa Meyer’s debut novel), is a loose retelling of the fairy tale, Cinderella.  It’s Cinderella, injected with a Star Wars steroid.  At first, I was hesitant to take the plunge into this series.  Oftentimes, retellings can be predictable and a bit corny–you can sense the author grasping at straws to cling to the origins of the tale.  But with Cinder, the original fairy tale only served as a nice bonus to an even bigger story you can sense is brewing, because this story is SO much more than a “retelling”.  And for that, I applaud Marissa Meyer for successfully making this story her own.

I loved so many things about this book.  From the super cute romance between a prince and a mechanic, a hilarious robot BFF named Iko, to the truly frightening Evil Queen, Marissa Meyer has a knack for creating characters you just HAVE to care about.  But the best thing about this book is, aside from the undertones of social inequality, the possibility of interplanetary war, and a deadly plague wreaking havoc worldwide, there remains a sense of hope.  And this is where I believe, Marissa Meyer justifies calling herself a writer.  You never get the feeling that Cinder’s world would be overcome by darkness because there are larger things in play and you trust that all will end well.  You hope, anyway, because Marissa Meyer’s ability to weave the optimistic mood of a fairy tale along with a world that faces very real dangers is just so darn crafty.

My only qualm about this book is how slow it started.  The science fiction aspect was a bit overwhelming for a person who doesn’t generally read sci-fi.  But I do understand that the main character is a cyborg and she being a mechanic is meant to imply a specific skill set that needs to be stated.  So I get it.  I’ve recommended this book to more than a few friends and their feedback was the same–it’s a bit slow.  But then I respond, just keep reading, you won’t regret it.

At the very least, Cinder is FUN.  It’s a breath of fresh air in the realm of Young Adult inundated with dystopian premises or high school drama.  Cinder has an air of the magical, without actually having magic.  Bottom line?  It’s enchanting and so very worth your time.

Marissa Meyer wrote the first draft of Cinder as a NaNoWriMo novel in 2008.  (In case you don’t know, NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month.  Every November, the program dares you to write a 50,000 novel in 30 days.) (source)

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