Thursday, October 25, 2012

Review: Cinder


By: Marissa Meyer
Publication Date: January 3, 2012
Published by: Feiwel and Friends
Hardcover: 387 pages
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.

 Cinder is a modern twist on the classic fairy tale Cinderella where our heroine is a mechanically inclined cyborg fighting against Levana, the Lunar queen.

Why I read this book:  After seeing this book in just about every bookstore I've frequented lately as well as on Goodread's Listopia, I decided to give this one a try.  I'm always looking for debut authors and really, a cyborg Cinderella?  How could I refuse?

Cinderella Lihn Cinder is a cyborg (almost half robot), complete with a prosthetic foot, hands and a large portion of her internal organs are artificial as well. We learn Cinder is a mechanic in New Beijing, the capital of the Eastern Commonwealth (think futuristic China).  The area (and the rest of the world) has been crippled by a deadly plague for which there is no antidote.  Cinder does not remember her father and her step mother, much like the rest of New Beijing, treats Cinder as a second-class citizen. 

Enter Prince Charming Prince Kai, the heir to the throne of the Commonwealth, who visits Cinder's shop for android repair.  Cinder isn't left daydream about Prince Kai for long, because soon after the prince's visit, the area is quarantined when a nearby vendor shows symptoms of the plague. From here the plot jolts ahead at warp speed. 

There are so many areas I wanted Marissa Meyer slow down and explore further.  New Beijing is a gold mine opportunity for world building and I had a difficult time picturing this futuristic but desolated place. The definite lack of Chinese atmosphere, customs, anything at all, really threw me.  If not Chinese, that's fine, but pick something else then, clue the reader into this world.

Cyborgs.  How did the humans and cyborgs relationship get to be this way?  Does Cinder have artificial intelligence?  Where do her emotions, thoughts, motivations, fears come from?  There is some explanation, but this really would've helped me to better connect with the story.

The Lunar Empire.  Good concept. But I'm still not completely sold how exactly they are so powerful that all of the Earth's armies fear this tiny population of people.  How did the Lunar people get there and how to do live on the Moon? And why is Levana so intent on becoming queen of New Beijing, what's so special about that place in particular?  I still have many unanswered questions.

As unique as this re-envisioning is, this novel had the potential to stand on it's own, without the Cinderella backdrop.  Things like the ball.  Eh, I could have done without it.  It just didn't seem to fit. The predictability factor was high with Cinder as well.  Sometimes, when you see the ending or big twist coming, it works if the journey is engaging.  Even then, if the reader figures out what's going to happen by the first 50-60 pages and then has to wait around for the main character to have the light bulb moment, it's not as satisifying.

Rating: 3

Memorable Quotes
“I'm sure I'll feel much more grateful when I find a guy who thinks complex wiring in a girl is a turn-on.” 

“Vanity is a factor, but it is more a question of control. It is easier to trick others into perceiving you as beautiful if you can convince yourself you are beautiful. But mirrors have an uncanny way of telling the truth.” 

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