Review

Book Review: Cinder

Book Review

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Blurb

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.

goodreads

At the time of writing this review Goodreads have rated this as 4.15 out of 5

Opening Lines

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.

Review

‘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: –

  1. 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.
  2. 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: –

  1. 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.

My Rating

3 Star

9 thoughts on “Book Review: Cinder

  1. I do admit that when I was a teen reader, I gave pretty much every book I read 5 stars. But then Grade 11 English corrupted me and now I can’t help but be analytical and stingy with my stars. 😛 (3 stars doesn’t mean I hated it, people!) Also, I had no idea this was about an asian cyborg cinderella and now I kind of want to pick it up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so picky now I think to the point where I wonder if I’m *too* picky but then I think, ‘I know what I like and know what I don’t!’ It’s strange as well because there’s loads of books that objectively I know are not greatly plotted or written but I can’t help but love them but then there are classics that people love and I sit quietly hating them to scared to confess that it wasn’t for me! Definitely give Cinder a go – it’s sort of a like a vanilla sponge cake in a world full of dark chocolate and raspberry YA offerings.

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  2. I totally agree about the Goodreads thing. It kind of baffles me that a lot of YA books that I consider really trashy are rated so high, but as you so wisely say, we shouldn’t judge young readers as we’ve aged beyond their demographic, and thus wouldn’t be able to relate to their tastes. (Though I still wouldn’t hesitate to trash such books lol 😛 )

    And love your review! I absolutely agree that Cinder is a pleasure to read, and it flows very easily due to the fun characters and great world-building, but it’s very predictable. I was really enjoying the beginning, but the “twists” later on were so obvious that I was let down in that regard. But I agree: the strengths definitely outweigh the negatives. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I’ve become significantly more picky over the years and I’m oddly torn between not wanting to offend people with my thoughts on books and ripping into the ones I hate. I get very opinionated when drinking so I had thought about ‘Whine and a Wine’ as a feature – just to blow off some steam!!!

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  3. Hmm I’ve been thinking a lot about this series lately, whether I should read it or not, because I have a terrible urge to finish all series I start, even if I don’t like them, but based on your review I think this could be a 3.5 read for me, rounded up to 4. I always give more than deserved, don’t know why. I think I’ll pick it up soon. Hey, people in their 50s read YA, why do you care 😀 But I agree 100% of us ‘older’ readers being more critical to YA. I myself rated some books with a 5 several years ago, which should have been 3/3.5 tops. It was all just new to me, and I loved everything, but now I can clearly see the bad writing and stupid plots. In YA my favorites are Maggie Stiefvater, Leigh Bardugo, V.E.Schwab’s ‘adult’ novels, and Patrick Ness of course, so I recommend those writers. 🙂

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    1. It’s not going to change anyone’s world and I think the writing is good but not spectacular but overall I really enjoyed reading them and liked the characters a lot. I felt quite immersed in their stories even if I can get quite nit picky. I ended up reading them all one after another which is not usually like me with series as I tend to have a ‘breather’ but they were really solid stories to get stuck into. I have a weakness for fairy tale retellings and these did a good job. I think I’ve given them all a solid ‘3.’ I do worry that I’m overly picky now!

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  4. I hear you about not knowing where I stand on YA. You’re right in that it’s not necessarily just because we’re older now (I’m off the target YA age by three years now, yikes). After all, like younger audiences are just as capable of thinking critically. And yeah, what makes a book good is mostly subjective anyway, and there are books out there with the characteristics of YA (straightforward storytelling, teen MCs, themes of growing up and coming of age, etc.) that are done objectively very well regardless of the age of the reader (Leigh Bardugo and V.E. Schwab come to mind). Augh, it’s all so confusing!

    And I wholeheartedly agree with you about SJM. Cannot stand her work, lol.

    Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I don’t know what the age range is for Young Adult books but I think I have surpassed it by quite a number of years now sadly! I adore YA though and will never stop. I’ll be buying them and people will start thinking I’m buying them for my kids or something and I’ll be like, ‘nope, all for me!’

      I think Patrick Ness is an amazing YA author – I don’t know if you’ve read any of his? I haven’t read any Leigh Bardugo or V.E. Schwab but as they are appearing on my radar more and more I really should!

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