Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Lunar Chronicles, Book 1

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.

Similar Authors
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

Personal copy.


  1. "the plot never dragged in order to appease world-building, and the world-building was enough such that the story was supported well."

    This is an excellent point. I see lots of complaints about not enough world building, but there has to be a balance -- otherwise we complain about how sloooowww the plot development is.

    I loved this one! Wish I didn't have to wait for the next installment.

  2. I'm so happy to read your review -- I adored this book and just thought it was so FRESH and different. Can't wait to see how the rest of the books go; sound like they may be focused on different lead characters whose stories interconnect, rather than on Cinder?

  3. I am 99% in love with this book. I just wish there'd been a little more of Prince Kai and Cinder romancey scenes. But, I'll live.

    I thought the world-building SUPERB! Unlike anything I'd read before, yet familiar, and the fact that it had an Asian element to it just made it that much more thrilling. It's such a cool mash-up of things and IT WORKS.

    So happy to hear you liked this one!


  4. Definitely agree that Cinder was a great, unique and resourceful character, though I didn't like this one as much as I wanted to. I guess I just had a hard time with some of the world-building and didn't love Prince Kai. But that's just me, clearly! I'll still be eager to read future books in the series.

  5. For the longest time I thought this was a book marketed to an older audience because of the cover. *sigh*

    I agree the world building was great--especially knowing full well there's a whole series with which to flesh out details.

  6. Sounds fab. Can't wait to discover this futuristic world!

  7. I'm always up for an enjoyable fairytale retelling, so I've been interested in this one since I first heard about this. In all honesty, Cinderella is far from my favorite fairytale (I always hated how long she put up with her crazy stepmother and stepsisters), but from what I've heard, Cinder sounds like more of my thing. Glad you enjoyed it!

  8. Still need to read this one, but I can't wait! I always love fairytales and retellings, so this one sounds like a great book for me :)


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