Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
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.
Retellings usually catch my attention, especially when they're retellings of stories I'm very familiar with. I don't think there's any tale I know better than "Cinderella," so I looked forward to this unique spin on the story. Cinder is predictable beyond even the parts lifted from the original "Cinderella," but its originality, intriguing characters, and promise for the quality of the future series installments more than make up for that.
It's hard for me to tell if my feelings on the setting of New Beijing are a result of my own natural desire to know everything or a lack of development on behalf of the novel. Because, while there is definitely a lot of information included about cyborgs and the Lunar enemies of the kingdom, I never really felt like I understood the full scope of their role in the society. It was nice that the included information seemed naturally given rather than dumped in chapters solely for exposition, but still, I think there is far more that never made it in to the story. However, while I never understood the entirety of the setting, I did at least enjoy what happened in it. Despite how predictable things were, even things not from the original "Cinderella," there's just so much always going on that it was hard for me not to always want to keep reading.
Although its the plot and premise are definitely the "selling point" of this book, the characters truly are the best parts. All the hardships Cinder herself faces as a cyborg make her both insanely tough but compassionate to those she cares for. It's this combination that makes her sympathetic as well, and thus always a treat to read about, especially in her more emotional moments. I liked most of the other characters too; although some, like the Lunar queen, are comical with their one-dimensional personalities, those who appear often are delightfully realistic. Prince Kai, for example, always managed to impress me with his kindness and acknowledgment that although he is capable of getting things done, he needs help as well.
Cinder may have lacked some development and surprise, but what's included is exciting, unique, and purely enjoyable in every sense of the word.
Book details: Feiwel & Friends/Hardcover/$17.99
Source: sent by publisher for review