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Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Pages: 387 pages
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian, Young Adult, Romance
Overall Rating: 4.5/5 ★★★★
Synopsis: 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.
I must say, this book has become one of my favourite reads this year. I had heard about The Lunar Chronicles before and was interested but somehow I never got around to getting them. When I received my copy, I dove right into it and the story absolutely captured me.
The writing is simple and direct, while still engaging the reader. It has one of the coolest opening acts I have read recently, with Cinder removing an all too small cyborg foot to replace it with a newer, better fitted model. It absolutely smashes all pre-conceptions of what this retelling is going to be and makes it interesting from page 1 all the while giving subtle hints to the original Cinderella story, which I absolutely loved. Now, as much as I would like to go into detail about my favourite parts, I really want this review to be spoiler free because I believe that part of what made it so great for me was not really knowing all that much about the plot. All I knew before reading it was that Cinderella was a cyborg mechanic but the story has so much more than just that.
I was actually pleasantly surprised by how Marissa Meyer tackled some heavy subjects in a way that was simple yet moving. She dealt with prejudice, xenophobia, fear and ignorance in a tightly bound package, that never felt too forced.
There are some things I did not like, though they were so few that I must say this book truly deserves the 4.5 stars I’ve decided to give it. As I get older, I find myself more and more annoyed that YA books always feature sixteen-year-olds as heroes and heroines mainly because me being 23, I don’t relate as well anymore. I would sometimes wish for slightly older heroines, that would make me feel like ‘Hey, that could be me,’ you know? And taking from my own experience as a teenager, sometimes it is hard to believe the romance in YA novels particularly because at that age I had no clue on how to have a relationship much less how on Earth to spend the rest of my life with just one somebody. This is all my personal take on it, because I am well aware that some people find the love of their lives as early if not earlier than high school but given that this was not my case, I just find it hard to relate.
But Cinder surprised me by building a really believable romance. It was honest and innocent but it was also slow and confusing. The characters did not know how to deal with their feelings and no promises of eternal love were made because each character had a motivation that went beyond looking for a happily ever after. They were also funny and charming and could easily make me smile and then break my heart on the next page. They were human and real and imperfect. They made mistakes, they were clueless and afraid and that was what made the story so real to me, so easy to believe. So easy to relate to even with the age gap and the futuristic aspects.
Another aspect that I loved was that things didn’t just magically work out in the end. Things sucked and just when the characters, and myself as a reader, thought it couldn’t get any worse, it. just. did. There was a lot of heartbreak and a lot of situations that went from bad to worse in a second making the hardships so much heavier but also allowing me to root for the characters even more. On the other side, the villains of the story were simply terrifying and I actually shuddered at times when reading about their past and present actions, their personalities and their motivations. But it was written in such a way that instead of just blindingly hating them for being evil, I was deeply curious about their back stories.
What happened to Queen Levana to make her the way she was presented in Cinder? I am aware that the book Fairest tackles this subject and I can’t wait to read it but the thing that I loved was that the character seemed interesting to me from the get go and not simply a villain to further the plot. I was constantly reminded of the quote I once heard Mike Myers say in his episode of Inside the Actor’s Studio, “Every villain is the hero of his own story,” and I just can’t wait to understand how Levana would turn out to be the frightening character of the story.
To wrap up this review, I would also like to say –without giving too much away– that it is noticeable just how carefully Marissa Meyer thought out the story. I have encountered numerous series of books that introduce characters midway that you never understood where they came from, or plot twists that seem to come out of the blue. But here, I was able to pick up hints from the next books and there was also an appearance of another title character! This just makes me excited to continue reading The Lunar Chronicles, because a story that planned ahead must surely not disappoint.
What are your thoughts? Did you like this series? Have you not read it? I’d love to read your comments!