A Girl Who Reads: Cinder

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Ever wonder "what if Cinderella was a cyborg?" Yeah, me neither. But after reading the first novel in Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles quartet, I'm happy someone did. Meyer takes some of the stories that we know and love, tweaks quite a few things, works in some of the identifying details in interesting ways, and throws it back at us wrapped in a pretty bow (seriously, the covers are gorgeous). Her fairytale retellings give us exactly what we yearn for in a new and exciting way. Most of us, whether we care to admit it or not, are looking for our "happily ever after" and some of us wouldn't mind a "prince charming" either. Everyone loves a Cinderella story. (That's the last cliché, promise.) 

*Note: Skip the next paragraph if you'd like to jump right into the review of Cinder.

In some ways, the Lunar Chronicles quartet borrows four of the heroines from our favorite fairytales and in many other ways, Meyer makes these stories all her own. All of her books take place during the 3rd Era, after World World IV. In her world, cyborgs, humans who have received metal parts to sustain their lives after life-threatening accidents, are viewed as "technological mistakes" and outcasts by most of society; the Moon is populated and those that live on it called Lunars are feared because of their "special abilities" as well as their infamous ruler, Queen Levana; and if that's not enough, there's a plague that's threatening to wipe-out the whole of the Earth's population. Each book focuses on a new heroine. Book One introduces us to Cinder, an orphan who still has an evil stepmother and lives in a dusty closet. But instead of a glass slipper, she has a metal foot with a metal hand to match. Scarlet, after whom Book Two is named, dons a red hoodie given to her by her grandmother who's been missing for two weeks when we're introduced to her. The small farm where she lives with her grandmother and a mysterious street fighter, Wolf, may hold the key to multiple secrets, including where her grandmother has gone and why she left her ID chip behind. Book Three's namesake Cress may not live in a tower, but she's been imprisoned in a satellite for years. And although she has golden hair, long enough to get stuck beneath the wheels of her desk chair, and there's even a sort of prince to save her, Cress is far from helpless. Trapped for years, she's developed expert skill as a hacker and for the adventure she's to embark on, she's gonna need it. Winter, Book Four, won't be released until 2015, but taking the teasers Meyer has released about this Snow White reincarnate as well as the glimpses we get in the other books, Winter's gonna be one hell of a character.         

Title: Cinder

Author: Marissa Meyer

Publication: 2012

Main Plot: Being partly made of metal parts for as long as she can remember means that Cinder’s grown to be quite good with mechanical things, having to fix her own malfunctions and any other thing that needs fixing in her evil stepmother’s home. In fact, she’s known as the best mechanic in New Beijing. Yet, it’s still surprising when she’s visited by Prince Kaito to fix his royal android, “a matter of national security”, before his annual ball. But what Cinder discovers threatens to be more than a national issue, it’s personal as well.    

Favorite Quotes:
""I don't know. I don't actually remember anything from before the surgery."
His eyebrows rose, his blue eyes sucking in all the light of the room. "The cybernetic operation?"
"No, the sex change."
The doctor's smile faltered.
"I'm joking.""

"It's easier to trick others into perceiving you as beautiful if you can convince yourself you are beautiful. But mirrors have an uncanny way of telling the truth."

"They were beautiful. The most beautiful things she'd ever owned. But if there was one thing she knew from years as a mechanic, it was that some stains never came out."

My Rating: 4.5 - 5 stars

I hate to say it, considering that I gave the novel a near-perfect rating, but I didn't want to read Cinder at first. I bought it on a whim to round out a Book Outlet purchase but it sat on my shelves for nearly 3 months, untouched. (Note: this seems to happen to all books that become my favorites, maybe I should take a hint or two.) The storyline both scared and intrigued me, the former steering me clear for a few months. I haven't mentioned it but I'm not very fond of aliens. I'm not sure why and it's topic for a different post, but I'm not a fan. So when I heard that there are moon people in this futuristic novel I wasn't jumping to read it. How silly was I. For the record, there are no aliens in this novel. Lunar people, yeah, but for the most part, they blend in with humans, so crisis averted. Also, to not read this novel (or series for that matter) is to miss out on a fantastic story. I closed the back cover of Cinder in less than 36 hours.

Cinder lives in a world that fears and hates her because she was blessed with a life-saving operation making her a cyborg in the process. She wears gloves, cargo pants and boots to cover her cyborg parts, a metal hand and foot, in order to fit into society. But being a cyborg doesn't come without some pretty cool tricks including being able to download data straight to your brain and scrolling the internet with your thoughts. In this novel, Meyer's explores adding these futuristic elements into the classic Cinderella story, and in my opinion, she really succeeds. Although it can read a little bit predictable due to it being a retelling, it's such a fun read that it doesn't matter.

Meyer did an amazing job at leaving in some of the elements we recognize from the fairytale (an evil stepmother, royal ball, pumpkin and a fairy godmother of sorts all make an appearance in the story), but the Chronicles is actually focused on something completely separate from these traditional, expected elements. Basically, many of the characters are inspired but the story is utterly it's own, and I love that. I love that while I read, I recognized certain things but then Meyer's would throw a wrench in there that completely knocked me off guard (hello moon people and fatal plague sweeping across all the lands!). I immediately identified with the characters. Within the first six pages, our main character Cinder meets Prince Kaito and I found myself rooting for them from the first word spoken. They literally had me at "hello." Meyer brilliantly weaves romance into her story of a world on the verge of falling apart. There are moments when everything seems to be going wrong spliced with heart-melting, "that lovin' feeling" moments that make you squeal. Literally. Squeal. Cinder is such a fantastic heroine. She may be treated terribly by her evil stepmother and shunned by others around her, but she's compassionate and strong and feisty and everything you'd want a YA (or any genre's) heroine to be.

I'm putting it out there - I'm envious of Meyer's writing. Off the top of my head, the only other author to produce such jealousy in me is Jane Austen and that's really saying something. I found myself marveling over her word choices, specifically her use of a variety of verbs. Every now and then, I'd read a few pages aloud just because I liked the way it sounded. She blends great descriptions with the quick pace of action and dialogue, without sacrificing one for the other.     

Cinder is a love story and a rebel story, a fairytale with a twist and it's all the better for it. Who wants that perfect love story anyway? Cliché, cliché (2 points to whoever caught that reference).

Have you read Cinder yet? Fangirl in the comments below. Oh, and if you need more convincing, here's a hardcover copy of Cinder for $4.99 - it's looking for a home :)

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