January 10, 2013

Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Title: Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1)
Author: Marissa Meyer
Release Date: January 3rd, 2012
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Page Count: 490
Source: Borrowed from the New York Public Library
Rating: ★★★★☆
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.

[Summary Source: Goodreads]

Well this one was different. I'm still trying to work out all of my feels towards it, but I'm pretty sure no matter how long I sit on this review I'll still come out liking it as much as my four star rating suggests.

Let's break this down:

The setting Marissa Meyer constructs in Cinder is pretty freaking brilliant. Sometimes I read dystopian books and the world just doesn't feel dystopian, but this one, well, this one's the perfect setting for this genre. All the old world with the new technology overlaid on top really worked. I think the only negative thing I have to say about the world-building is how cliche some of the Chinese aspects of this book are. I like that it's not ALL Chinese, since the whole city was destroyed in WWIV and everything's been rebuilt and a lot of time has passed and all that, but I'd like something a little more subtle than wontons and chopsticks. I could have used a few lingering traditions to go with the palace architecture and then I would have been totally set.

Of course, as if to make up for the week cultural background, Marissa Meyer builds this world with her awesome writing style. Everything just flows. The writing is never choppy or off putting and nothing said or written ever strikes me as superfluous.

Granted, as happy as I am with Marissa Meyer's prose, I wasn't totally sure how I feel about all the foreshadowing at first. Fact: the book gets pretty predictable on page 50 or so. At first, knowing the ending really irked me. But then I thought about it and I realized that since Cinder is a retelling of Cinderella, I'm pretty sure we ALL knew where this was going. That's the thing about fairytale retellings. You have to (loosely) stick to the premise of the original, but you ALSO have to tell it in a new, interesting way. So, in the end, Marissa Meyer gets an A+ in the plot category, despite the whole foreshadowing issue I originally had. Also. Guys. Cyborgs. I didn't think I would like it, but I totally did.

And then there's my homegirl, Cinder. Man, I love her. She's the root of the social commentary in this book (I could actually go on a rant about how incredibly amazing the social commentary in Cinder is, but I won't, because you'll all just read the book and GET IT). But yeah, Cinder. Cinder is shy and strong and witty and really one of those people I would totally want to hang out with. Of course, there were a lot of times when I totally wanted Cinder to get off easy (Peony, the Prince, Adri...) but Marissa Meyer really stuck to her guns and made us suffer  along with the protagonist, which was pretty stressful but totally realistic (AKA another reason I love the plot. And Marissa Meyer. And Cinder - the girl, that is).

Speaking of the Prince (which I wasn't really, but now I totally am): HOW CUTE IS KAI? He's all adorable and flirty and weight-of-the-world-on-his-shoulder-y. Ugh. I just want to hug him forever. So charming, so brave, so very fairytale - I think I could go on all day, but I'll stop now.

Anyway, I would say the only reason this book didn't get a five stars from me is because of Queen Levana. She just seems kinda flat. I mean, yeah, I get it, world domination, but WHY? I don't totally get her motivations, or any of her plans, for that matter. Other than that (and a couple cultural issues), I'm totally down with this re-telling and I CANNOT wait for Scarlet to come out in a month.

The long and short of it?

Plot: A wonderful re-telling of a fairytale that, to be honest, was never my favorite.
World Building: Disastrously dystopian.
Character Development: Everyone (except for Queen Levana) strikes me as totally believable. I can't wait for further development in future books.
Prose: Crisp and clear.
Would I Recommend This Book?: Yes, but just knowing going into it that this book is VERY DIFFERENT kind of book. It's unique in an unsettling way, but that doesn't mean it's not a good book, it's just asking you to see things a little differently.

Did you think Cinder was unique? Did you find flaw in Queen Levana or think she was a brilliant villain? What about Kai? How did he match up to the standard Prince Charming? Let me know in the comments below!


  1. Loved this book! I agree that it was pretty predictable(especially the supposed "twist" towards the end), but somehow I loved it anyway. I did not think this book was for me before I read it, because the word "cyborg" normally makes me put a book down, not pick it up, but I'm so glad I gave this one a chance. I really loved both Kai & Cinder and how their relationship developed as well. Queen Levana definitely seems to be a "pure evil" villian. . . the kind who just does things just because, but in this book at least, it didn't bother me. Though I do agree that she is much more one dimensional than every other character on the page.

    1. I'm so glad you liked it! I'm also really happy I gave it a chance, predictability aside.

      Thanks for commenting, Stormy! :)

  2. This book was one of my favorite reads from 2012 - and I'm so glad that you loved it! Despite the fact that I guessed the twist (which I think everyone pretty much did), I still enjoyed the plot. Marissa managed to take the typical Cinderella tale and turn it into something very different, which I loved!

    Plus, Kai is dreamy. Seriously. Although he has serious contenders for my affections in the next one.

    1. I definitely also love all the different. And Kai is super dreamy. I will take one of him, please! Although I can't wait to read all about those contenders. ;)

      Thanks for the comment, Alexa!

  3. Loved this book! The characters, the writing... Also, Sailor Moon was my favorite show growing up, so the references to that made me giddy.

    1. YES!!!!!! Oh man. Sailor Moon. I love Sailor Moon. All of the moon themes. Just amazing. Did you know Marissa Meyer actually wrote Sailor Moon fanfiction under the penname Alicia Blade? I basically bugged out when I found out.

      Thanks for commenting, Kimberly!! :)

    2. Yes I did know! I totally fangirled when I found out. I sent her a tweet and asked if any of that fanfiction was still around. She told me her penname and enjoyed reading my way through her stories. :D

      Did you know they are remaking Sailor Moon?

    3. So when I wiki-ed her post reading Cinder (out of curiosity), it lists her penname and I was like O_O because I RECOGNIZED IT. It was the crazies thing ever.

      Also, I did NOT know they were remaking. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about that, but I feel like I'm definitely going to have to check it out.


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