Review

Review | Cinder by Marissa Meyer

And as the clock struck midnight, Cinderella fled the prince, losing her foot as she descended the stairs.

You expected to read “shoe” didn’t you?

cinder-paperback-cover

Summary

Cinder is the best mechanic in New Beijing. And good thing too: she is the only source of income for her adopted family. The secret to Cinder’s expertise? She herself is a cyborg.

Cinder does her best to keep this hidden, as cyborgs are generally looked down on by the public. But the populace has something much bigger to fear: the plague may well take all of their lives. And furthermore, there’s the pending peace treaty with Levana, the Lunar Queen.

But when Cinder’s sister falls ill, she will draw the attention of researchers, Prince Kai, and Queen Levana.

But Cinder is just a lowly cyborg. Right?

Plot

On the face of it, Cinder is a great set up: cyborg Cinderella? Sounds good. Meyer’s working with a difficult genre. Sure, the outline of the plot is already there, but how to change it to make it new?

The plot falls a little here because we know that despite all her refusals, Cinder is going to end up at that ball one way or another. This makes the plot rather predictable since clues are left everywhere. Sadly, this isn’t just the retold elements either, the twist at the end can easily be guessed at.

Still, I enjoyed identifying elements of the original fairytale, and the plot itself deviates enough to stand on its own.

Characters

The characters are probably what pushes the story forward. Cinder is a spunky female protagonist, extremely skilled and devoutly moral. Iko is fun and sweet, Levana is calculated and cruel.

The two characters I want to talk about are Prince Kai and Dr. Erland. (Mostly because I have nothing but the typical praise for the famle characters, but I have special notes for these two.) Kai is probably one of the best “retold” princes I’ve read. Unlike others who “don’t know how to rule and have the love interest inspire them”, Kai stands his ground. He knows how to lead, but he doesn’t feel ready for it yet. He’s scared of the responsibility, but is strong enough to take it anyway. That takes guts.

As for Dr. Erland, the little rat, I want ro smack him across the face. As much as he helps (and will help), I don’t trust him because he keeps witholding important information. Seriously, how many problems could be solved if he just told Kai what he knew about Cinder? I’ll tell you: ALL OF THEM.

Writing

Meyer’s writing is a bit of a let down. The scenes are a little formulaic, her world building lacking that level of detail. There’s no explanation of hovers, androids, and portscreens. The only thing I know about Cinder’s appearance is what parts of her are mechanical. I’m not even sure what Iko looks like.

And she sets this up in “New Beijing”, and this is a great opportunity to drown the reader in oriental imagery. Sadly, this doesn’t really happen. The story could have happened in America and I wouldn’t know the difference. This also begs the question, why “new”? And when I found out it’s because of WWIV, all I thought was, “What happened to WWIII?” I hope the future installments have more insight.

Themes

Cinder is in a constant state of repression: by her foster mother, by society, by herself. She hasn’t reached the point where she can stand against the oppression, but she’s reached the point where she doesn’t care. In the end there’s a hint of her growing in strength, but it will have to be shown in the subsequent installments.

This book is rather political, and while not explored to its full extent, I can’t wait to see how it plays out.

Final Verdict

This isn’t my favourite Cinderella retelling (that title lovingly belongs to Ella Enchanted), but for what Meyer delivers it’s an interesting set up. For all my complaints, I couldn’t put the book down, and that’s due to the characters, who have easily been endeared to me.

Recommendation: Read. Cinder is a fun retelling of my least favourite fairytale, and when it comes down to it, you’ll either leave or stay because of the set up. Definitely give it a read to see if you like it!

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