Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Publication Date: January 3rd, 2012
Feiwel & Friends
Format: Hardback, 390 pages
RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars
Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .
Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

Far into the future, in a world where cyborgs, androids and humans co-exist, lives a girl whose lot in life hasn’t been that favourable. With a merciless stepmother and an equally cruel stepsister, Cinder lives for the day she’ll be able to run away and escape the harsh reality of her life as a second-class citizen. But things become complicated when Peony, her other and far nicer stepsister contacted the Letumosis plague and Prince Kai seemed determined to keep her in his life. Any other girl would be ecstatic to be in her position (at least, for catching Prince Kai’s attention) but not Cinder. There are things she needed to consider – like the fact that she was unprepared for the knowledge of where she truly came from; or the fact that she’s a cyborg and Prince Kai is a full royal bloodied human and a relationship with him is more than impossible. Above all things, she alone could prevent an inevitable war between Earthen Commonwealth and Luna, ruled by the evil Queen Levana. Cinder must accept who she is before she could even consider everything else.

There are a couple of things that make me wary of Science Fiction novels. First, I haven’t found a book in this genre that I’ve become vested in emotionally. There’s just something about Science Fiction that I always felt a certain detachment to when I read them. Perhaps it’s in the narrative explanation of how the world came to be but I’ve became apathetic with this genre. Second, the characters themselves are like automaton almost. I just couldn’t connect with anyone. Cinder, on the other hand, have successfully convinced me that I’m being unfair. That I haven’t really given this genre a fighting chance. What I find fascinating about this book is that Cinder herself is incapable of crying – hence, I’ve been prepared to roll my eyes and say, here we go again.  She was very adept in evoking whatever she was feeling at the time. On the other hand, I sometimes find myself asking whether or not the author was successful in Cinder’s character development. I mean, sure she’s physically made of metal, chip and of flesh, bone, and blood. The thing is, for a cyborg, Cinder was a very emotional character that I sometimes forget that she’s not all human. And at the same time, I’d like to think this was the very reason why I enjoyed this book as much as I did. It was Cinder’s humanity and Iko’s (android) friendship. I was also sympathetic to those who successfully fled Luna and their never-ending fight to live in liberty.

The relationship between Prince Kai and Cinder was, to my opinion, perfectly timed. I love the mild flirtations between the two and Kai’s determination to win Cinder over. I love how the author captured Cinder’s apprehension and fortitude whenever Kai was around. This is Marissa Meyer’s rendition of an age-old fairytale. Did I expect a happily ever after? Well…yes. Did it happen? All I can say is that this is supposed to be a series. I’m dying to read the next book now. But I don’t have a fairy godmother to grant me this wish. I guess I have to suffer along with everybody else.

My complaint about Kai is that he didn’t seem to have spent any time grieving over his father’s death. And perhaps it’s because he had things to worry about – like finding himself being the successor to the Emperor’s throne. It just seemed like it doesn’t take him long to recover over his father’s death especially when Cinder was around. Also, I wish the author spent some time with developing or writing about the New Beijing’s culture. I’d love to read about the former Emperor’s funeral. Over all, I’m not at all bitter that there wasn’t anything special about Kai other than being the object of every girl’s desire. This is just the first of the series so I’m sure Ms. Meyer would give us more of Kai on the next one.

This book filled me with trepidation for one reason – Queen Levana’s mind control powers. How easy it was for her to get Kai to his knees and agree with anything her evil heart desires. To be honest, I didn’t want to continue reading when there was only about a quarter left to the book. And it wasn’t because I wasn’t liking the direction of the story or that it made me mad. I just didn’t want to find out if Queen Levana was successful. But I knew I had to continue. I’m not going to say either way what happened next but I’m simultaneously relieved and anxious when it was over.

Cinder was not at all what I was expecting. And unlike most, I wasn’t really all that gung-ho to read this book. Marissa Meyer’s retelling of this fairytale encapsulates everything we’ve loved about Cinderella. Romance and hope that the good, small people would always get what they deserve. The only thing I didn’t like about this is that the evil witch still reigns and lives. Oh well, until the next book, I guess.

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