Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer


February 22, 2012 by Heidi

Book cover of Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Title: Cinder [Amazon|GoodReads]
Author: Marissa Meyer [Website|Twitter|Facebook]
Standing: First in the new Lunar Chroniclesquartet.
Genre: Young Adult, Sci Fi, Retelling
Published: January 3rd, 2012 by Feiwel and Friends
Format: Hardcover; 390 pages.  
Source: Borrowed from my local library.

Challenge: Debut author challenge.

Cinder has spent her years since becoming a cyborg (and an orphan, and a second-rate citizen) laboring to provide for her overbearing stepmother and stepsisters.  Her stepmother never wanted to accept Cinder into their home; she feels Cinder is to blame for her husband’s exposure to the plague that caused his death, and only keeps her around as a source of income.  Cinder is, after all, the most talented mechanic in all of New Beijing.  While working, Cinder finds herself approached by an ‘inconspicuous’ Prince Kai, asking her to fix an outdated android that holds some important information.  She’s happy to be of assistance, but helping the Prince becomes increasingly difficult when her younger stepsister, Peony, is infected with the plague and her stepmother opts to volunteer Cinder for treatment research.   

The cyborg draft had been started by some royal research team a year ago.  Every morning, a new ID number was drawn from the pool of so many thousand cyborgs who resided in the Eastern Commonwealth.  Subjects had been carted in from provinces as far-reaching as Mumbai and Singapore to act as guinea pigs for the antidote testing.  It was made out to be some sort of honor, giving your life for the good of humanity, but it was really just a reminder that cyborgs were not like everyone else.  Many of them had been given a second chance at life by the generous hand of scientists and therefore owed their very existence to those who had created them.  They were lucky to have lived this long, many thought.  It’s only right that they should be the first to give up their lives in search for the cure.

I have to admit that Cinderwas so much more than I was expecting.  I feel books rarely live up to their hype, and to me, Cinderwas one of the most hyped up YA titles of the new year.  So I lowered my expectations, but I have to say, for me this one totally lived up to the hype.  Cinderhad all of the elements of a great retelling.  It was true to the structure of the well-known Cinderella, but managed to completely reimagine the details flowing into that structure to support it, and to do so in a way that was completely unique.  

Cinder lives in a future after WWIV, where the world has divided into large territories whose leaders work together regularly.  The moon, colonized hundreds of years previously, has become Earth’s biggest threat where Queen Levana sits the throne as a powerful and manipulative dictator hungering for more.  Prince Kai must deal with dangerous negotiations to maintain peace, while at the same time desperately searching for a cure for the plague, lumotosis, that has ravaged the Earth for around fifteen years.

Cinder made an excellent example of the issue of prejudice.  Cinder finds herself the victim of being considered less than human because of her cyborg status.  She struggles to be accepted into society, insistent on her humanity, while at the same time harboring incredible prejudice against Lunars (those people who inhabit the moon).

I also very much enjoyed the treatment of emotions in Cinder.  This was not an overly emotional book.  There’s no pining, no insta-love, but still the characters come across as very real.  I wish more books out there would realize you don’t have to be melodramatic to be genuine! Prince Kai is very kind and down to earth, yet very aware of his duties and sense of responsibility to his people even (or especially) with the trying reality of plague in his own family.  Cinder is, quite frankly, the coolest mechanic since Kaylee of Firefly.  She’s a tough chick who has to wade through pools of crap, but doesn’t sit around moping or even sharing her hardships with those around her.  This definitely can be a fault when it comes to her friendship with Kai, but I still respect the girl for it. And the bad guys? Man…they are evil! You get not only your evil stepmother but also your evil queen, and both have my all encompassing hate in the best way possible.

Cinder‘s ‘major twist’ was predictable, but in a way that I appreciated.  I don’t feel as if readers were written down to in this case, we’re supposed to get it, and for once I wasn’t banging my head against the wall wondering when the characters were going to figure it out already.  I did have a slight problem with some of the dialog.  It occasionally felt a little off-kilter given the setting, but this was fairly minor.  Finally, some of the sci-fi aspects of the book seemed to be dipping over into fantasy a bit. As the story states, it is not magic, but the explanation still seemed a bit fanciful to me. This aspect didn’t reduce my enjoyment though. Overall, I loved this book, and it’s certainly one of my favorites of 2012 thus far.

You can read the first 5 chapters of Cinder free!

Likelihood that I’ll be back for more:  Absofreakinlutely!  This is the first book I’ve read this year that I closed and immediately starting bouncing my legs in ancy anticipation for the next installment.  

Recommended for:  Firefly fans. It’s not just the Kaylee thing either, with its mixture of Chinese and English influences, Cinder could take place in a similar environment. Anyone who loves a good fairy tale retelling, and chicks that aren’t delicate and won’t apologize for it dammit!

Real life repercussions of reading this book: Omg I can’t decide which of Cinder’s awesome abilities I want most, can you?  I do really like the whole lie detector bit…At any rate, who didn’t have this song in their head with all the Iko love?


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  1. I didn't have that song in my head till now ! darn you! >.< Loved all the points you made! Though I didn't notice any off kilter language, maybe I was just too sucked into the story! Either way, wonderful and strong review! If I hadn't already read it I would now !

  2. AHHHHH! I love it when people I like love books that I love. (Just puzzle out that off-kilter sentence). Cinder is a freakin' awesome character, I love that she's not whiny or irritating and that she does cool things like fix androids. And yes, I was able to predict a lot of the book, but I think that was because of familiarity with the origin story, but I don't know sometimes I like being able to predict a book. That probably sounds bizarre, but I think there's a comfort when things don't come out of left field completely!

  3. Heidi says:

    I think some of the dialog just threw me as not 100% matching what I'd expect to come out of these people's mouths. I'm not sure if it was too casual, or too current, or what, it just bugged me every so often. Not all of the dialog though, the bulk of it was great!

  4. Heidi says:

    I agree! Sometimes, when it's 'supposed' to be a big reveal, I get annoyed when I figure it out (*cough* Partials), but it wasn't like that with Cinder. Here we were supposed to get it, and the characters weren't stupid or slow, they were just in situations where they wouldn't see what we saw. I loved that! It was masterfully done, and I love Cinder. I'm sad she won't be the main character in the next book, but I'm excited to meet a new awesome character as well!

  5. I know I need to read this! Why haven't I?! I haven't seen a bad review for this book yet…I need to check my library, lol. "Cinder's ‘major twist’ was predictable, but in a way that I appreciated."-I had the same thoughts on the ending of Pandemonium, but I still loved the ending and in many ways I was still shocked even though I saw it coming!

  6. Heidi says:

    Right! This is one of those that of course you know the structure–it's Cinderella, and you get the twist, but there are still tons of details you're unsure of and it all falls together beautifully. You should really see if the library has this one, I was hesitant because of the hype, but it was so good!

  7. […] Seraphina by Rachel Hartman #9– This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers #8– Cinder by Marissa Meyer #7– Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz #6– The Mighty Miss […]

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While the source for each book I review is posted within its review, please assume unless otherwise stated that books reviewed on Bunbury in the Stacks were received free from the author or publisher in exchange for an honest review.