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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Guest Post: The Edge of Darkness Fantasy Cast

Today I’m bieng hosted at the lovely Gina’s popular blog Fantasy Casting.

What’s being cast? Why, my version of the dream cast of The Edge of Darkness!

Drop by and have a look, leave a comment, and check out some of Gina’s other posts because she’s a very awesome lady and has been an invaluable support to me since I published The Edge of Darkness.

Gina will also be hosting an interview soon! I’ll post a link when that happens.

Thanks a lot, Gina!

Foreign Cover Friday: The Forest of Hands and Teeth

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Foreign Cover Friday is a weekly meme hosted by The Reading Fever, where foreign covers of the books we know and love are spotlighted and discussed. To join, either pick your favourite foreign cover, or pick many foreign covers, and start discussing!

This week we’re going with a book that I only gave three stars to, Carrie Ryan’s The Forest of Hands and Teeth. It’s a zombie novel. There. I said it. It’s also YA. And – bonus – it’s a YA zombie novel written for girls. Yeah, I had issues with it, but my review isn’t the point. The point is the pretty, creepy covers. So here we go!

In Mary’s world there are simple truths. The Sisterhood always knows best. The Guardians will protect and serve. The Unconsecrated will never relent. And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth. But, slowly, Mary’s truths are failing her. She’s learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power, and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future—between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded in so much death?

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This is my cover: the UK Young Adult version. I can’t tell what the red things is supposed to be. A flower? Feathers? If it was even vaguely reminiscent of the plot, maybe i could tell. But there are no flowers or feathers in the book, so I don’t know what it is.

Seriously. What IS that thing?

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This is also a UK cover. I didn’t see it in my book shop otherwise I probably would have picked this one. Has anyone worked out what the red thing is yet?

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This is two more English-language covers, and I think they’re American. The one on the left is paperback and the right hand one is hardcover. I love the paperback with the creepy fingers of the trees covering part of Mary’s face, but I’m not sure how I feel about the hardcover. I don’t think I’d like it on my shelf. It’s a little too creepy with Mary on the cover there with that sullen expression and bland clothing.

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This is the French, German and Czech versions. While the French version doesn’t do anything for me, the German one is gorgeously creepy with Mary’s hair in the wind, the beautiful trees in the forest and those figures in the background. And the Czech version is classy and nice, and I’ve seen that model used somewhere else as well…

Translation
French: Forest of the Damned
German: The Forest: Forest of a Thousand Eyes
Czech: The Forest of Hands and Teeth

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This is the Italian, Polish and Swedish versions. I am in love with all of them! They are all so beautiful – I love the colour themes of brown, blue and green. I love all that hair with the flowers and leaves in the Italian version. I love the background of the forest one one side and the ocean (recurring imagery) in the Polish version, and I love the silhouette of the tree with the green sky and the almost-full moon in the Swedish version. They’re all gorgeous.

Translation
Italian: The Forest of Lost Loves
Polish: The Forest of Hands and Teeth
Swedish: The Sharp Tooth Forest

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This is the Dutch and Greek versions. I think this Dutch cover just fails. The clothing she’s wearing is just too modern and too bright a green to make me believe she’s running from anything post-apocalyptic. The Greek version, on the other hand, is eerily beautiful. The green leaves (which remind me of eucalyptus leaves but hey, I’m not a botanist) covering the face of a girl so we can’t tell if she’s pretty or not, and that beautiful blue eye.

Translation
Dutch: The Claws of the Forest
Greek: The Forest of Hands and Teeth

What are your thoughts?

Which covers do you like? Which do you hate?

Check back at The Reading Fever for her Foreign Cover Friday!