Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer
January 3, 2012
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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.
First sentence: “The screw through Cinder’s ankle had rusted, the engraved cross marks worn to a mangled circle.“
Guys, this book was a pleasant surprise. I hadn’t expected to like it because whenever somebody recommends me a YA series, I don’t find myself loving it as much as others do, but Cinder is a different case. I was sucked into the world and had to know what happened. I do dislike some things in Cinder, but my likes exceeds those dislikes. I was struck by so many overwhelming feelings that I couldn’t identify until the end. Cinder is a great retelling of the old classic Cinderella. The story is very familiar, but still different and unique, especially since Marissa Meyer is a gifted storyteller. The concept of futuristic fairy tales intrigue me, and why shouldn’t it? Who would’ve thought that I would enjoy a book that has a cyborg? Cyborgs, everyone! Androids, friendships, technology, political struggle, a female character who is a fabulous mechanic, all the good stuff! Surely, makings of a good story, right? Yes, absolutely!
- The fairy tale influences + sci-fi elements –
You should know that I never like reading fairytale retellings because I don’t find them interesting or innovative. They usually bore me. However, I am blown away by how different, yet familiar Cinder‘s story is to the Cinderella story. Every time there’s a section that’s reminds me of Cinderella, I love the way Marissa Meyer incorporates the sci-fi element (which she does beautifully). I like that Cinder isn’t strictly based on Cinderella. I can see a bit of Sailor Moon in the story and that fills me with so much joy. Who knew a cyborg would be a great character in a fairytale? Not me. It works so well.
- Technology + mechanics –
Me + technology + mechanics = ???? I’m extremely clueless when it comes to anything to deals with having to fix an electronic device or a vehicle. Usually, when I read those, I zone out because I don’t find it interesting. However, I was strangely fascinated by the descriptions of Cinder fixing the androids or taking her foot off and replacing it. I guess I liked seeing what fixing it entails? My face was practically glued to my book when I read any technological + mechanical stuff that Cinder did. I love the idea of Cinder as a mechanic. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where the female character is a mechanic and that is sad because fixing things can be interesting.
- Friendships –
Always love them! I love that Cinder actually has friends. She isn’t by herself; she has Peony, her stepsister, and Iko, her stepfamily’s android. Peony is a sweetheart. I love that she accepts Cinder for who she is and never treats her differently or badly because Cinder isn’t fully human. And Iko is just a ball of enthusiasm and positivity. She gets excited about things and can feel emotions (which she shouldn’t be able to but she has a glitch). She’s really good to have on your side, especially when you are just bitter about your life or the world. Because she’s an android, she has extremely simple logic. At times, she gets annoying because of her optimism, but she’s hilarious. I find it awesome to see that Cinder has people/android who love her.
- Cyborgs/Androids + Humans + Lunar interactions/conflict –
The interactions between cyborgs, androids, humans, and Lunar’s are truly fascinating. In my review of Glitches, I talked about my fascination with androids/cyborgs and humans, and I’m happy to see that the interactions are expanded in Cinder. You get to see the difference between Iko, an android that has feelings, and a med-android who strictly does what’s in its program. I like that the political struggle between Luna and the Commonwealth is very realistic and relatable. The things that happen in the book happen in the real life too. You see countries try to maintain peace with each other (some with and some without success). You see people escape from their country because of an oppressive regime (in Cinder, Lunar people and shells escape to Earth because of Queen Levana). All the interactions are what I see in everyday life in the news.
- The familial relationships –
Strangely, I find myself interested in the dynamics between Cinder and her stepmother, Adri. Yes, Adri’s treatment of Cinder makes me incredibly angry. Every time she or Pearl, Cinder’s older stepsister makes disparaging remarks about Cinder, I want to punch them in the face. Despite my anger towards them, I find their relationship complex. I understand that it is easy to blame the person who seems to be the center of all the shit things that’s happening in your life. That’s what Adri’s doing. She projects onto Cinder because that’s the only thing she can control – her feelings – when she can’t do anything to prevent her husband and daughter from contracting Letumosis. Also, she needs Cinder to provide for the family; Cinder is the only source of income. It makes me feel bad for her. I wonder what that means for Adri when she no longer has a punching bag or a source of income.
- To like Prince Kai –
I wanted to like him, but I was pretty meh about him. Sure, I liked seeing Kai’s struggle with being an emperor and seeing how his inexperience makes him feel insecure. I like that he wasn’t a cocky guy, who thought he knew all the answers. He’s still a kid who wants to do good for the Commonwealth while trying to prevent a war from happening. However, I didn’t feel any spark for this guy or any spark between him and Cinder. I thought his interactions with Cinder were okay. I didn’t find myself falling over my feet for Kai, which is truly disappointing. I think it’s because I don’t find his personality very interesting. I didn’t like the way he treated Cinder at the end, but his reaction is perfectly understandable especially since it’s a major betrayal to him. Kai hasn’t done anything that warrants my devotion, or Cinder’s attention.
- For the book to be less predictable –
I wasn’t surprised by any of the big reveals. Usually, I do not pick up on obvious hints and foreshadowing of where the plot is going, but with Cinder, I knew early on what was going to happen (which Marissa Meyer noted at the Fierce Reads event that readers are suppose to know right away) and it took me out of the book. I think I really wanted a more suspense that the book didn’t give me. It bothered me that something was revealed in the synopsis, which I would rather preferred to find out in the book because I don’t like the overwhelming feeling that comes from knowing that something bad will happen. That anticipation is the worst feeling for me (but it’s really good tactic).
Yes, retellings of fairy tales can be boring, but I assure you, Cinder is not. Four words: sci-fi fairy tales! Marissa Meyer weaves the retelling of Cinderella (which also has a hint of Sailor Moon) beautifully. You also get cyborgs, androids, political struggle, a life-threatening disease called Letumosis. When I finished this book, I became overwhelmed by all the fairytale influences and whatnots because I finally identified it (yeah, late reaction, I know). It’s a good introduction to Cinder’s plight. You should go read it (just so you can get to Scarlet, which I hear is 100000 times better than Cinder and I have to agree).
Chri @ Fathomless says
Cyborg cinderella – doesn’t that sound kick-ass and amazing? I think I had really similar opinions with you on Cinder. Kai was a decent person, but he wasn’t swoon-worthy by any means. And, like you, normally I’m pretty slow to pick up hints and foreshadowing, but I pretty much had Cinder all mapped up in the first few chapters, and went through the rest of the novel hoping that it wasn’t really going to go as I had thought it would. It did. I’m glad to hear that Scarlet’s 100000 times better than Cinder, though :D I love it when books in a series get better and better. I’ll have to see if I can get my hands on a copy! Great review :)
Nancy @ Tumbling Books says
I was really surprised by this book too. It seemed like everyone loved it and I just wasn’t sure if I was going to like it. Usually, the books that people love I tend to hate (ex. The Perks of Being a Wallflower), but this was pretty good. I loved it. I can totally see why you were’t that into Kai, I thought he was a bit distant and I wished he had been more of a focus, but I understand him being preoccupied with the emperor thing. Great review! I love that you list what you like and what you didn’t. :)
I absolutely loved this book. I have to agree with you about Kai, though. I must say, it does make the book more realistic because there aren’t always going to be sparks in the first few weeks of meeting someone and that’s just the way it is. By the way, wonderful website!