Have you ever read a popular book with good reviews before and asked yourself, “Why don’t I like this book more?” I feel this way about Cinder. It’s a popular YA book that has gotten great reviews, comes highly recommended, so what’s the problem? Why did this book not connect with me better?
Let me begin by saying that this Marissa Meyer’s debut book, and it is a futuristic and sci-fi fairy tale re-telling of Cinderella. Over the recent years, I’ve read some decent fairy tale re-tellings, but I’ve also read some terribly clichés ones, as well. Usually, they are hit or miss, but I find myself more in the middle on this one.
The cover, which features a red high heel with a woman’s leg and the mechanical parts shown inside, tells the reader a lot about the book alone. Cinder is a cyborg and kinda of a futuristic Cinderella, but she’s also a talented mechanic, who has caught the attention of Prince Kai, the Emperor of New Beijing’s son. Before I go further, there is a backstory about World War IV, that has devastated the world and caused it to be rebuilt, a current plague that is killing indiscriminately and has no known cure, and an impending war with Lunars, inhabitants of the moon, who are at odds with people of Earth. New Bejing is where Cinder lives. Prince Kai goes to Cinder because he needs her help with an android robot, or so she believes at first, but he has no idea that Cinder is a cyborg. Furthermore, Cinder, who’s somewhat self-conscious, doesn’t want him to know, which I think made for one of the best parts of the book. And, when the truth of her full identities (notice that it’s plural) are finally revealed, holy cow! Easily, Kai’s and Cinder’s interactions and the last part of the book (the ball was fantastic!) were the best part of it. I do think that Kai’s character could have been fleshed out a little more, given more substance; there were a few times where I was frustrated because I didn’t know what he was thinking, but I wanted to know, and I thought for sure that the author would reveal it, however disappointingly, she didn’t. Moreover, there were no real gestures to give the reader further indication.
Cinder is a very original re-telling, with an interesting storyline, but outside of Kai, Cinder, and Peony, I didn’t care for any of the secondary characters. And, yes, there is a mean stepmother and a bitchy step-sister. Peony is her second step-sister, but going against the original fairy tale storyline, she’s nice to Cinder. Cinder is a very likeable character, though, because you clearly see what she’s gone through. Even with her tendency to pity herself, which stems more from her own insecurities about having mechanical parts than anything, she gets in there and tries to rise above it; she’s not a shrinking violet, by any means. She knows that she has perceived deficits, but she doesn’t sit there and bemoan her fate; she goes on because she has to.
The world building is unique and descriptive, but some of the plot elements were rather predictable. But there again, Meyer’s writing is a little inconsistent. When I wanted her to be more descriptive (as with some of the more flat secondary characters), she wasn’t, and when I wanted her to be less descriptive and a little more glossed over (as with some of the more technical aspects), she wasn’t. The more sci-fi and technical aspects were the least appealing things to me, but I wouldn’t discourage anyone from reading it because of that. In fact, even though I'm kinda on the fence, I would say give this book a try, and see if you like it for yourself.
Cinder – 3.5 out of 5 stars!
Reviewed by Susannah;)