Review: Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer

Publisher: Fiewel & Friends
Genre: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 387 (hardcover)
Release Date: January 3 2012
Source: Purchased.
Rating:4 out of 5 stars.

Blurb (from Amazon.co.uk)

A forbidden romance.

A deadly plague.

Earth’s fate hinges on one girl…

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.

This is not the fairytale you remember. But it’s one you won’t forget.

Review (full review posted on Goodreads.com)

I was looking forward to reading this book, but it’s even better than the blurb makes it sound. It’s better than I expected it to be.

I don’t normally like retellings, because most of them aren’t very original. How can you be original, when you’re basically re-working someone else’s work and passing it off as your own? (*cough*fanfiction*cough*) (I don’t actually have a problem with fanfiction, only fanfiction that then gets published and tries to pass itself off as original fiction.)

But Cinder, to me, is highly original. It’s an interesting book. Half of it is predictable because it’s a re-worked Cinderella myth – so you know there’s going to be a handsome prince, an evil stepmother, and ball and a missing shoe. You know roughly how it’s going to go down. The Cinderella myth is so well recognised that we can put those elements to the back of our minds and start identifying elements that don’t belong. This is where the book becomes predictable: in the foreshadowing.

The original part of the book is in its protagonist, Cinder. She’s a cyborg, in case the cover and blurb didn’t clue you in. I have a not-so-secret confession: I FREAKING LOVE CYBORGS. I love the whole question of whether the transformation is voluntary or not and how one comes to terms with that. Cinder struggles with her identity all throughout the novel. She struggles with a past she doesn’t remember and a future she doesn’t want. I loved reading about her. Normally I don’t like books written in third person POV – I feel more intimate and involved in first person. And I admit, the point of view changes did at first make me suspicious. They are necessary, of course: it’s limited POV from Cinder, and when Cinder’s not there to make an observation we still need to know what’s going on. It’s well handled, and although at first I felt a bit jerked around, I soon adjusted and got on with enjoying the story.

Enjoying the story is really what it’s all about. Forget how predictable it is –it is really only predictable because of foreshadowing – and readers need foreshadowing so authors don’t just suddenly throw the big information out – and you’ll really enjoy how beautiful the prose, the characterisation, the worldbuilding and the originality is. Meyer is a master, and certainly more capable than her more famous name-sharer. She’s taken an age-old fairy story and really made it her own in stunning style.

Prince Kai makes it to my shelf of awesome YA male love interests. He’s so genuine and unassuming. He’s swoon-worthy and, despite being royalty, very realistic. I consider myself a republican, but I’d follow his monarchy any day… That’s not meant to sound as dirty as it does, I mean it quite literally.

The worldbuilding is one of a kind. I even asked a question about something that I should have waited and found out for myself, because it did get addressed. I really enjoyed finding out about this world, and how it came to be, and what the fuck the Lunars were.

My ONE teeny tiny problem with the book is something very small. I like to have emotional reactions to books. When a book makes me cry, you can pretty much guarantee it’s going to be a 5 star ratings. I didn’t have the emotional reaction I should have had when something in particular happened to a particular character. I was saddened, yes, even though this was a character I didn’t particularly like. This is because I had grown attached to this character through Cinder. However, in places I laughed out loud, especially when Adri had her stepmother’s comeuppance at the ball.

Did I mention how much I loved Iko? She was surprisingly well-written for an android. I want one!

Back to Cinder! She’s awesome. Did I mention that? I mean… REALLY awesome. She’s totally one of the most capable and independent YA heroines I’ve ever read. She gives as good as she gets, and despite being the Cinderella character, doesn’t weakly let her stepmother walk all over her. Sure, there’s a relationship dynamic that you can’t ignore which often leads to Cinder being less well off, but that’s conflict, right? That’s part of the Cinderella myth. Poor, downtrodden, dressed-in-rags Cinderella goes to the ball and dances with the prince, much to the chagrin of the stepmother.

I am for sure looking forward to the next three books in this series. I want to see how masterfully Meyer handles the other three myths, and how they intertwine with Cinder’s story and the Lunar Chronicles.

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