Review: Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer
Author: Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #1
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends, an imprint of Macmillan
Publication Date: January 3, 2012
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. (From the jacket flap)
My Kind of Book…
When I first heard about Cinder, I heard that it was a fairy tale retelling of Cinderella. I really enjoyed the retellings that I’ve read, like the Wicked Years series by Gregory Maguire, and Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, also by Gregory Maguire. There are a lot of retellings on my TBR list, so I was intrigued by Cinder. Then I heard that Cinder (aka Cinderella) was a cyborg. Wait, what? You’re telling me it’s a fairy tale retelling and it’s Science Fiction? That in itself was enough to make me want to read it. I added it to my TBR list and then forgot about it until the publication date rolled around, and the reviews started flowing on my Google reader. When I read some of the reviews (if you’d like to read one where the blogger wasn’t so sure about the premise upon picking it up, read this one at Hughes Reviews), I realized that I needed this book RIGHT THEN. Luckily I had just had a birthday and had a Barnes & Noble gift card burning a hole in my wallet.
Let the Gushing Begin…
It’s only February, but I’m already calling it: this is my favorite book of 2012! I know that seems a little premature, but believe me, it’s that good.
It took me a bit to get into the story, but that’s my only complaint. And I really don’t think it’s the author’s fault – I had just finished A Million Suns by Beth Revis and I think my mind was still aboard the Godspeed, so it took me a minute to get my head into this new location and story. But once I got into it, man did it do crazy things to my head.
There’s one scene where Cinder goes to a junkyard along with her android assistant, Iko, and her stepsister, Peony. This scene really brought me into the book with full force, because I could actually see these characters in my head, and I could imagine this scene completely. I still don’t know exactly what the characters look like, but I got a great sense of their location, their body language, and their actions in this scene. It was so visual that I can completely see this series being adapted into film. (And let me say that I will be one of those fangirls standing in the ticket line overnight for those movies!) That scene, along with the scenes that preceded it, reminded me a lot of the show Firefly. I was excited to find out that Marissa Meyer is a huge Firefly fan and the show actually helped inspire the series!
I loved Cinder. I thought she was a strong protagonist, and while she is considered an outcast, she’s not whiny about it. She doesn’t agree with the fact that she’s treated as a second-class citizen, but she has zero “oh, poor me” inner dialogues. She was complex, smart, sarcastic and humble. And she had a bit of a temper at times, but her anger was always completely warranted.
The secondary characters were great, too. Iko and Prince Kai and Peony were the kinds of characters that you want to hang out with on a daily basis. Dr. Erland and Torrin were mysterious and interesting, and Adri and Queen Levana were the ultimate villains. Each character was complex in their own way, and I never questioned anyone’s actions, except for the instances when you’re supposed to question them.
What I really want to get across in this review is the fact that this story would have been awesome if it was just a fairy tale retelling where Cinderella is a cyborg. That would have been enough. But Marissa Meyer didn’t stop there. This is no simple fairy tale retelling.
It’s set in New Beijing in the distant future. There’s a plague. There are people called Lunars who have evolved from humans who colonized the moon. The Lunars can control the minds of others. And intertwined through all that is the story of a girl who wants to go to a ball.
This story is so complex that I took seven pages of notes. I had theories every five pages for about half of the book. And these theories, they weren’t me thinking, “Oh, yeah, I’ve got it figured out already,” – I was thinking, “Oh crap, is she?” and “Could this be?” and “Shiz, does he know?!?” I don’t want to give away too much, so sorry that I couldn’t expand those theories. What I mean was that I hadn’t figured things out early, I simply had theories that I was excited about, and although many of them turned out to be true, I wasn’t at all disappointed that they were correct.
The thing I love about Gregory Maguire’s Wicked Years series is that it’s not simply a retelling of The Wizard of Oz from the Wicked Witch of the West’s point of view – the story is meaty with the witch’s background, politics, government, civil rights issues, etc. This is the case with Cinder as well. Yes, the story of Cinderella is there, and it’s a clever retelling. But added to that backbone is a full, complex story of its own that had me gushing about the book to my husband, my friends, and even to myself.
In case you couldn’t guess, here’s my rating for Cinder by Marissa Meyer:
Five gigantic stars. If I could give it more, I would. If the rest of this series is as good as this book, it will surpass The Hunger Games series for me (which is currently my #2 favorite series, with Harry Potter being #1). It’s that good.