AUTHOR: Marissa Meyer
GENRE: YA Science Fiction
FORMAT: Hardcover, 387 Pages
Cinder has a reputation for being one of the best mechanics in New Beijing. She has a gift for fixing what’s broken, even if that talent doesn’t seem to extend to her personal life. Being cyborg means limited rights and high tensions with the only family she has left, not to mention disdain from the majority of the population. But there is more to Cinder than being part human and part machine, and the mystery of her past might just be the key to securing Earth’s future…
… FIGHTING EVIL BY MOONLIGHT! WINNING LOVE BY DAYLIGHT! NEVER RUNNING FROM A REAL FIGHT — oh, we’re NOT singing the Sailor Moon theme song right now? Well, boo. I guess I’ll go back to writing this review then…
I absolutely loved Cinder, and not just because it brought back fond memories of watching Sailor Moon every morning when I was a kid. It’s a refreshing, original take on the Cinderella fairy tale that effortlessly incorporates new twists with familiar details. Besides, there are cyborgs. And a Prince. And diabolical mind manipulation powers…! What more do you need in life??
One of the best things about Cinder is Cinder herself. Well, aside from a minor snag during which I made faces at the book because her hair was described as “mousy brown.” (I just really dislike when brown hair is described as ‘mousy.’ It’s one of my least favorite adjectives…) But everything else was awesome. I liked that Cinder was such a gifted mechanic, that she was a hard worker but not a martyr or Mary Sue about it. None of that lame, “I’m going to suffer in silence because I’m such a good person blah blah blah I don’t resent this unfair treatment at all!” nonsense. Cinder isn’t happy with her situation, but she does her best to live with it until her opportunity comes to make a change. She does feel resentful, hurt and angry. And that makes her more sympathetic, in my opinion. I just can’t get behind a heroine who simply accepts her fate, no matter how crappy it is.
While it kind of bugged me that she had such a complex about being part cyborg, it was an understandable thing to feel self-conscious about, especially in a society where being half machine wasn’t exactly a celebrated thing. Besides, this is only the first book and I have high hopes that Cinder will eventually come to accept and even be proud of being exactly the person (and kind of person) she is. I personally thought her cyborg half was incredible. I mean, she has a built in lie detector, for crying out loud. Hello?? Awesome???
My favorite thing about this protagonist: she was never standing still, just waiting for the shit to go down. I like female leads who take matters into their own hands, who make decisions that might prove to be mistakes and yet just keep rolling with the punches anyway. I liked that she was self-sufficient; she didn’t need anyone to save her.
I have nothing but admiration for the society and setting featured in this book, which is far, far into the future and yet still recognizable as something that could realistically evolve from world we live in right now. Sometimes sci-fi verges on the overly farfetched, with technology and other innovations that are difficult to believe or even comprehend. But I could see the future turning out to be something like the future portrayed in Cinder. Oh, and I thought the Lunars were pretty fascinating, with their illusions and mind games — a worthy adversary in this book, and in the ones to follow.
If you’re still on the fence about this Cinderella retelling, I think you should give it a try. I really enjoyed the science fiction spin on the original story, and I appreciated how it seamlessly included bits and pieces of the fairy tale while still making sense. It doesn’t have the fatal flaw of being completely overtaken by romance or overburdened by details. Highly recommended, and I’m definitely going to read the rest of the series.
…. Aaaaaand now I think I’ll go back to having the Sailor Moon theme song stuck in my head.