Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Tags: YA, sci-fi, futuristic fantasy, retelling
In the future city of New Beijing, Cinder works as a talented young mechanic, but her status as a cyborg and ward of her stepmother means that she is trapped. When a mysterious and deadly plague touches her family, Cinder is thrown into the paths of members of the royal palace, including the handsome and caring Prince Kai. There may be something about Cinder that will be the key to finding a cure for the plague, but will Cinder ever be regarded by anyone as more than simply a cyborg?
A futuristic cyborg retelling of Cinderella sounds outrageous, but Marissa Meyer really takes the timeless tale and makes it her own with CINDER, first of a four-book series. Imaginative and action-packed, with likable characters, CINDER will appeal to readers looking for a dose of creative adventure.
Where do I start in gushing about how enjoyable CINDER was? Cinder the protagonist was a lovely protagonist. She is smart, resourceful, and brave. Cinder belongs in that small group of YA heroines who do not possess any extraordinary survival tactics and yet are fighters: she deals with her troubles in a way that many of us can imagine ourselves doing if we are ever in her position.
My next point is contentious, as many great reviewers have considered this part underdeveloped, but I felt that CINDER did a great job of creating a unique future world. No, it’s not quite a dystopian, and it’s not “hard” sci-fi: if it were either of those, the world’s connections to our present-day world would need to be more convincing. However, I was able to enjoy CINDER’s setting of New Beijing as almost a fantasy world, set on a planet with a similar layout to ours, with new technology but similar problems of politics and society. Story and setting complemented each other well: the plot never dragged in order to appease world-building, and the world-building was enough such that the story was supported well.
Overall, CINDER may not win any literary awards in the near future, but it is an utterly enjoyable retelling of a classic in a futuristic fantasy world, with recognizable elements from the old tale but enough new things to keep things fresh. I was surprised at the abruptness of the ending, until I learned that the Lunar Chronicles is a four-part exploration all about Cinder and her adventures, not separate stories each. Oh. Okay. There will be resolutions in the future, then! You can bet I’ll be tuning back in to the next books in this fun series.
Lia Habel (Dearly, Departed)
Gail Carson Levine (Ella Enchanted)
Cover discussion: I can't help feeling that this cover is a bit... awkward? It's a mechanical foot of sorts trying to masquerade as glamorous. Wuhhhh?
Feiwel & Friends / Jan. 3, 2012 / Hardcover / 400pp. $17.99