Cinder: a gifted mechanic in New Beijing, is also a cyborg. She’s reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s sudden illness. But when her life becomes entwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s she finds herself at the centre of a violent struggle between the desires of an evil queen – and a dangerous temptation.
Cinder is caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal. Now she must uncover secrets about her mysterious past in order to protect Earth’s future.
At the time of writing this review Goodreads have rated this as 4.15 out of 5
The screw through Cinder’s ankle had rusted, the engraved cross marks worn to a mangled circle. Her knuckles ached from forcing the screwdriver into the joint as she struggled to loosen the screw one gritting twist after another. By the time it was extracted far enough for her to wrench free with her prosthetic steel hand, the hairline threads had been stripped clean.
‘Cinder’ is the first of the four part series ‘The Lunar Chronicles’ which are re-telling’s of classic fairy tales with a science fiction twist. Each of the books in the series is named for the main protagonist of that particular installment.
I will give you three guesses as to which fairy tale ‘Cinder’ is based on. Go on. I’ll wait.
I make no secret for my love of fairy tales and believe that I have stated “I adore fairy tales in all their forms and love a retelling.” I say ‘I believe’ I have stated this but I know for a fact that I have as I have gone back and re-read my previous Marissa Meyer review for ‘Heartless’ where I said just that.
The question is – did I enjoy this fairy tale in its new form?
First, let me take you on a mind journey. C’mon, meandering a bit is fun. Humour me.
I have realised that a lot of the books I have read that are written with the young adult audience in mind and I’ve noticed that those written with young female readers in mind tend to have a higher than average Goodreads rating.
What does this mean? I don’t know. I’ve never alluded to being a literary expert. But, it could be two things: –
- Young female readers don’t tend to think critically about what they are reading in terms of plot, character development and writing style and aren’t necessarily rating and reviewing on what they think is good writing but are rating based on what they enjoy.
- The books that are being written for young female readers are of a very high quality with genuinely good or very good, if not great writing.
I can throw in a third option: –
- I am not in the target readership and so overthink and over-analyse and tend to rate the books lower than the average because I am no longer part of the demographic that can truly appreciate the work .
Or, it could be a combination of all three. Or none at all.
I may no longer be in the target readership but I once was and I believe that I can appreciate quality writing and quality storytelling regardless of who it is ‘designed’ for.
This may come as a surprise to some out there but the young female audience can think critically and enjoy work that isn’t necessarily ‘good.’ First point can apply – people rate what they enjoy whilst knowing it may not be good. And everyone’s perception of ‘good’ differs anyway.
This leads me to my second point. This is a bit of a mixed bag. I have read brilliantly superb young adult fiction which I would wholeheartedly recommend. On the flip side I have read some absolute awful pieces of work. Sorry to anyone who is and I don’t mean to offend but overall I am not a Sarah J. Maas fan.
So after this mind journey of mine, where does Cinder end up? Is this a new and unique revamp? Did I enjoy the attempt? Is it good?
I think that Marissa Meyer is a solid writer and a very good storyteller who knows her audience very well and writes for them with enthusiasm and joy. Although she is a solid writer there is nothing particularly exceptional about her style. In my ‘Heartless’ review I said that I found it well constructed and easy to read. The same applies here for ‘Cinder’ as I breezed through it in a matter of days.
That ‘breezing through’ was not just because of the ‘easy’ writing but also because of the story line and characters. As this retelling goes I did find it to be a new revamp and that’s what adds something special to the story.
‘Cinder’ is set in a futuristic world where Earth as we know it has changed. One of the major changes is a collective of Earth inhabitants who, after an international war, decided to inhabit the moon and start the planet colony of Luna – hence ‘The Lunar Chronicles.’ The shadow hanging over this series is the Queen Levana (yes, the typical evil queen of fairy tales) who rules Luna and who is desperate to start an interplanetary war and take over Earth. This is the overall big arc of the entire series.
This individual book is about Cinder, a teenager of Asian ethnicity (yay for diversity ) who is being raised by her stepmother, who has two stepsisters and who meets a Prince. In that regards that’s a pretty standard Cinderella. Oh, but she’s also mechanic and a cyborg, there’s a plague that needs to be stopped, a ‘surprise’ twist that you can see from page five and the fairy tale Godmother is actually a professor who is trying to find a cure for the plague and believes that cyborg experimentation is the way to go.
The delivery of the story? I liked it. The concept? I loved it.
I enjoyed reading this very much. The writing is good (but admittedly nothing special) and the plot can be pretty transparent at time but I think the strengths outweigh the weaknesses. I enjoyed the world-building that showed the the Eastern Commonwealth and New Beijing in enough details to feel original and the writer injects new and interesting material into a common plot and manages to throw in some surprises along the way.
The characters are engaging with Cinder herself being clever, determined and resourceful whilst possessing a heart of gold and an endless reserve of snark. I love snark. I can only dream of being filled with such levels of snark. The side characters are fleshed out as much as possible and given meaning aside from their relationship with Cinder. Iko is a particular delight.
Although the story is engaging and is one of the more original retellings of Cinderella, I wouldn’t necessarily say that retellings get a higher score with me – simply because there is already a foundation on which to build. If a retelling scored a 4 it would have to be because something truly original or shocking occurred within the pages.
After finishing ‘Cinder,’ I bit into the next one with relish which was appropriate as it involved a Big Bad Wolf.
I could never snark, I love my bad puns too much.