Author: Marissa Meyer
Published: January 3rd, 2012 by Feiwel & Friends
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.
When I started reading Cinder, I didn’t set high expectations because hyped books usually end in disappointment for me, but I’m happy to say that I actually liked Cinder. I love retellings and I love sci-fi so I think the story worked out pretty well, and even though it took me a long time to finish reading this book (it’s because of classes, but that’s another story), I really enjoyed it.
Just by looking at the title, you’ll know that Cinder is a retelling of Cinderella, so I don’t think I need to explain what the story is about. What makes it different from other retellings is that the story is set in a futuristic New Beijing and Cinder is a cyborg. I thought that the story is highly imaginative and unique, and it breaks the mold of retellings. As much as I love retellings with magic and fantasy worlds and mythical creatures, it does get boring after a while, especially when they’re so similar to each other. I love how Cinder is more than just another Cinderella story, but it encompasses other issues as well, like the politics between the Lunar people and Earthens, and the epidemic outbreak of letumosis.
I think that Cinder is a wonderful character, with wit and sarcasm that doesn’t come across as annoying. She doesn’t act like the typical Cinderella. Despite being mistreated by her evil stepmother (actually, I don’t think stepmother is the right word, but…), Cinder doesn’t sit on her hands and accept it like the other Cinderellas, she actually speaks out and even plans to escape. Also, she’s a cyborg, so that’s cool. I also like how Marissa Meyer lets the romance take the back seat. There’s no proclamation of undying love in Cinder, it’s more like: “hey, do you wanna go to the ball?”(Prince Kai), “Umm… yes not really” (Cinder).
As the first book in a series, Cinder does a wonderful job in making me want to read the next book. I say this because there were many questions in Cinder that made me curious, and want to know more about the world Meyer has created. Like the Lunars, for example. How did they get on the moon in the first place? How did they get their magic bioelectric powers of mind-bending? And questions about earth like how did World War IV happen? How many countries are left? Usually, when I read the first book of a series, there is some information about the history of the world in the story. But I didn’t mind the lack of information in Cinder because I enjoyed it nonetheless and I’m definitely going to read Scarlet.
Another question I have about Cinder is: why are cyborgs considered second class citizens/outcasts? Does having robot arms and legs make people less human, or not able to experience human emotions? I find this interesting because Cinder, who is a cyborg, shows more humanity/kindness that some characters who are ‘completely’ human, like her stepmother.
With retellings, it’s easy to guess what’s going to happen next, because it’s usually the same story told in a different way. But because Cinder is only loosely based on the story of Cinderella, it was a little disappointing for me because I guessed the ‘major’ plot twist very, very early in the story. There were too many hints about the whats/wheres/whos/whys so when the truth was revealed, I wasn’t surprised at all. And another thing I have an issue with is the setting of the story. Cinder takes place in New Beijing, so I’m assuming the community is mostly Chinese and they speak the language. But other than the names of the characters and places, it doesn’t feel Asian for me. I wish there is more Chinese/Asian culture in the story because it just reads like any other stories I’ve read before.
In the end, I’m giving Cinder 3.5 stars because despite some issues I had with it, I really do like this book. I find it very creative and easy to read. The story is interesting, and while the world-building could use some improvements, there is definitely great potential in the series. I’ve heard that the series gets better with every book, so I’m definitely looking forward to that. If you’ve read Cinder, I’d love to hear what you think about it!
“We have the ability to love each other, no matter our differences. To help each other, no matter our weaknesses.”
― Marissa Meyer,