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.
Series: The Lunar Chronicles (Book 1)
Genre: YA Science-Fiction
Publisher: Square Fish; 2nd edition (January 8, 2013)
Page Count: 448 pages
I had heard many great things about Cinder. I even used this novel for one of my comparable titles for my Red Hood book proposal. Fairytale retellings are popular nowadays and Cinder seems to be one of the most famous, so I had to this book a shot and I'm so glad I did.
The Plot: Cinderella's story was never my favorite growing up. My favorite telling of this story has always been Ever After, but Cinder is definitely a rival to that. The plot is so fascinating! It stays very close to the original story, but has its own fresh take. There are politics, disease, aliens, prejudices, secrets, conspiracies, all whipped up into a Cinderella tale. There's so much going on and so many twists and turns that have you reeling! I also got the feels. I literally say "No" out loud at certain parts.
The Characters: I love Cinder. She's such a great protagonist. I like her personality and her skills and that she's a mechanic! So cool! She's so much better than the original Cinderella to me. I like her nature to move forward, her ambitions, and her love for Iko and Peony. I feel far more invested in her. The only thing that irritated me a bit was her interaction with the Prince. How can you not like him?
Prince Kai is a great prince. I love his struggles to do the right thing and he's so multidimensional. Iko is adorable. I want one of her. She competes with R2-D2 and Data on my favorite droid characters. Dr. Erland is an interesting man. He constantly has you going back and forth whether you should trust him. Queen Levana is very scary. She reminds me a bit of my character Vanmoriel. Basically, she gives me chills. Other characters such as Pearl, Peony, and Adri are great as well. The cast was great.
The Setting: The setting is in New Beijing, a futuristic China now part of the Commonwealth. The world is so developed. It just pulled me in. I loved seeing more of Asian culture since I don't read about it too much, except in manga. The Lunars conflict with the humans is very interesting as well as public opinions of droids and cyborgs. There's also so much cool technology such as ID chips and windows. It's all so cool! On top of that, magic is involved.
Epic Things: There's just so much epic! First of all cyborgs. I've always had a fascination with cyborgs. I have some in my own stories. I love the droids. Their design sounds very interesting from what Marissa Meyer has described. I also just love all of the Asian influence from the food to the dresses to the architecture.
The Theme: There are many good themes of self sacrifice mainly by Cinder and Kai. Their putting others over themselves was so moving.
Content Cautions: There isn't too much of not. There's maybe three instances of d*** and one or two instances of h***. Some of the symptoms of the letumosis disease could be frightening, some droids cut medchips out of cadavers, and some characters kiss, but other than that not really anything.
What We Can Take Away For Our Writing:
1.) A Science-Fiction Fairytale Worked - I wasn't sure what to expect when I heard this book was about a science-fiction retelling of Cinderella. Sure, I'd seen contemporary loose retellings, historical retellings, and retellings still in the fairytale genre, but fairytale plus sci-fi didn't make sense to me until I read it. It worked so great and felt so fresh.
How this can be applied to writing: Don't be afraid to try fairytale retellings out of their original genre. I wrote a fairytale retelling set in a colonial fantasy world that ended up getting picked up by a magazine. Try retellings in not so common settings and you may get something amazing.
2.) A Retelling That Was Fresh But Still Kept To The Original Storyline Worked - Often in fairytale retellings the writers lose touch on scenes and elements of the tale that endeared us to the original story. Cinder still has it's own unique plot but still draws closely to the original, however the events are reached in different ways and more scenes than the original tale are added, yet it is still close to the Cinderella tale we know.
How this can be applied to writing: When you write a fairy tale retelling how can you make sure your story is new yet acknowledges the old? This is the balance that must be kept for a good retelling.
3.) Science-Fiction Technology Worked - Cinder has a variety of new technology such as med-droids, advanced medical technology, household droids, space ships, windows instead of phones/computers, and more. All of this affected daily life such as how information was acquired or transportation.
How this can be applied to writing: What kind of technology can you add to your futuristic novel? How will this affect your characters? What changes will it make in their lives?
4.) A Story Told From Someone Who Is Human Worked - I spoke on this briefly in my Orphan's Song review, but Cinder has a different element on this since she is not a human, but still very close to one. Cinder can't cry because her tear ducts are removes, she has a built in lie detector, and she can't blush because her body warns her if she overheats. She also has to keep in mind about changing out her old parts and is very self conscious of her metal limbs. You definitely knew you weren't in the head of a human.
How this can be applied to writing: If writing in a humanoid-like being's head, how can you make sure your reader knows this person isn't human? Use subtle reminders. Make a list of things that definitely aren't human and try to utilize those features in your character's point of view.
Conclusion: Cinder is one of the best fairy retellings. I'm writing a retelling myself and this definitely sets the bar high. I totally recommend this book. Five stars!
Marissa Meyer lives in Tacoma, Washington, with her husband and three cats. She's a fan of most things geeky (Sailor Moon, Firefly, color-coordinating her bookshelf ...), and has been in love with fairy tales since she was a kid, something she doesn't intend to ever grow out of. She may or may not be a cyborg. Cinder, her first novel, debuted on the New York Times bestseller list. Visit Marissa at her website, Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter.
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