Publication: January 2012 from Feiwel and Friends
Rating: 3 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I liked it
Sixteen-year-old Cinder is considered a technological mistake by most of society and a burden by her stepmother. Being cyborg does have its benefits, though: Cinder’s brain interface has given her an uncanny ability to fix things (robots, hovers, her own malfunctioning parts), making her the best mechanic in New Beijing. This reputation brings Prince Kai himself to her weekly market booth, needing her to repair a broken android before the annual ball. He jokingly calls it “a matter of national security,” but Cinder suspects it’s more serious than he’s letting on.
Although eager to impress the prince, Cinder’s intentions are derailed when her younger stepsister, and only human friend, is infected with the fatal plague that’s been devastating Earth for a decade. Blaming Cinder for her daughter’s illness, Cinder’s stepmother volunteers her body for plague research, an “honor” that no one has survived.
But it doesn’t take long for the scientists to discover something unusual about their new guinea pig. Something others would kill for.
Take China in the future, add in a plague, androids, cyborgs and a colony on the moon that has become it’s own civilization and you get Cinder. Cinder is a cyborg living in New Beijing. Life is simple and routine as a mechanic until in one day, she is visited by the Prince who needs her expertise, and the plague breaks out in the market. Soon, Cinder is swept up in more intrigue than she could imagine, and more than she wants.
I enjoyed Cinder for the sci-fi and fairy tale re-telling aspects, mostly. I think there were a few reasons I wasn’t as in love with this book as I wanted to be – hopefully I’ll be able to get them across right. First was Cinder herself. I didn’t connect with her like I wanted to. Cinder spent most of her time worrying about what Prince Kai or others would think (or thought) about her being a cyborg. She’s supposed to be an amazing mechanic, but besides fixing an old car all we really see her do is hit things to make them work and remove a futuristic version of an SD card from an android. But, no matter how much I didn’t connect with Cinder, she showed glimpses of being strong and independent (and a little rebellious) and by the end of the book was completely focused and in charge of her life. So she grew on me. Prince Kai was similar. Nice guy, you can tell he’s going to be a good Emperor, but he felt a little off. I also didn’t get the romance between Kai and Cinder – it seemed strained and not needed.
I loved the sci-fi aspects of Cinder. The androids and cyborgs, the new world government, even the idea of the plague. This is a book rich in description and you can’t help but fall into the world that Marissa Meyer created. The Lunar colony was an interesting add-in to the world, and one that at times worked for me and at times didn’t. Queen Levana is a thouroughly despicable villain and her plot was great. The glamour and “magic-but-really-science” part of the Lunar physiology confused me a bit, especially in a few parts involving Cinder. I understand the idea and how it’s used, and that in these instances Cinder herself is meant to be unsure and confused as well, but for me – the reader – the confusion always made me feel like I had missed a part somewhere.
The Cinderella part of the story was faithfully redone – and very well, I might add – and the sci-fi future was a perfect setting for it. I think, for me at least, Cinder is just a very full book with a lot going on. Overall, I was completely entertained and I enjoyed the story. I feel it is definitely a debut to check out, since my complaints are very unique to my own tastes and likes in books. The writing is great, and like I mentioned earlier the detail and world building is amazing.
Cinder is part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge hosted by The Story Siren.
For those of you that enjoy audio books, Macmillan has graciously offered an audio clip from the first chapter of Cinder.