Friday, June 13, 2014

Book Review - Marissa Meyer's Cinder

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles Book 1) by Marissa Meyer
Published by: Feiwel and Friends
Publication Date: January 3rd, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 400 Pages
Rating: ★★★★
To Buy

Cinder is the only source of income for her family. Her adoptive father died and she is left with a step-mother who hates her and two step-sisters. Worst of all is that being a cyborg, she is not just a second class citizen in her home, but is viewed as a second class citizen by all the residents of New Beijing. Yet she is lucky in that her deformities are easy to conceal with clothes and her job of a mechanic means that she can wear gloves to hide her hands, the most obvious sign of what she is. Yet one day everything changes. Prince Kai comes to her stall in the market to ask her to repair his robot. All the world is in love with Kai, yet Cinder feels an instant connection. She can't wait to go home and tell her sister Peony and her best friend Iko, who is a robot. That night though, Peony contracts the plague. The scourge of the world that could wipe out humanity. Cinder's step-mother blames Cinder and volunteers her for medical research. Not to save Peony, but to destroy Cinder.

Yet Cinder is surprisingly resilient to the plague. She might be a hope for a cure. Also, there's the added benefit that she must be constantly at the palace for the research, and if she gets to see more of Kai, that is all right by her. Yet the political machinery she is being drawn into is dangerous. The Lunars, people from the moon whom the earth greatly distrusts, want to form a marriage alliance with Kai. In return the Lunars will give the world a cure for the plague. It is what the world needs more than anything, an end to the suffering. But can two people falling in love put aside their dreams and do what must be done for the world?

I am a sucker for retellings of fairy tales. After all, fairy tales are the building blocks of what stories are. The adversity, the handsome prince, the happily ever after... though sometimes not in the darkest of tales. Cinderella was never one of my favorites. My mother would probably site the fact that when the mice appeared the first time I saw the movie I started crying uncontrollably and had to be removed from the theatre. In all fairness, I don't remember this and remember more the Jungle Book tantrum of my brother that made me never know the ending for over ten years. That all said, there are really two kinds of retellings, those that just flesh out the story more but keep it similar in feel to the original, or those who throw everything out the window and go for something fresh and new. Cinder threw everything out the window. We have strange beings from the moon, we have cyborgs, we have a post apocalyptic world that has the feeling of Bladerunner and Firefly. We have a princess that is very un-princess like. We have the start of a series that looks very promising and then pissed me off greatly by ending on a cliffhanger. The fact that it pissed me off shows that I was invested enough in the characters that I didn't want to book to end.

The world building is fabulous. There's political intrigue, new space age mechanics, new terminology, yet never are you overwhelmed by this. Everything flows naturally from the strong and vibrant characters of Kai and Cinder. You feel their pain and joy. The fact that I almost lost it and started crying when something happened to Iko, who is a robot mind you, that just goes to show that every character, human and otherwise is suffused with this wonderful life. Never once was I pulled out of the world that was made and now I wait, rather petulantly, for the next installment. The ball that is the end of Cinderella really is a launching platform for the rest of the epic story to come for Cinder. Sometimes when the fairy tale says "happily ever after" it is really just the beginning.


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