Book Review: Cinder
I was happy to discover that I had won Cinder by Marissa Meyer in an online giveaway because I had been wanting to read the book for a while, but hadn’t gotten my hands on a copy yet. I tried not to get too excited, though I’d heard so many good things about the book, because I didn’t want to be disappointed if it wasn’t as good as I had heard. Well, I failed, I got way excited and then way relieved because it was every bit as good as other people had told me. Cinder is a fairy tale retelling of the classic Cinderella story, but this one has cyborgs, plagues, and a Moon Queen threatens the Earth’s existance!!!
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.
This book has all sorts of elements that I absolutely adore. It had cool sci/fi centered around androids and cyborgs, a dystopian future because of a plague, and a really cool take on retelling fairy tales. I really enjoy robots in stories and I can see this type of future existing at some point. Cinder is a cyborg, she was in a terrible accident when she was younger and a lot of her bodily parts were replaced with robotic parts, and she has some sort of cyborg interface in her brain. I love that she uses her robotic parts and cyborg interface to be the best mechanic in the city. I like that her job is dirty and greasy and not a usual occupation for female protagonists. I also was intrigued with the social dynamics between people who had robotic parts (cyborgs) and humans without such parts. Because of the social structure creed by royalty cyborgs are treated as less than human and only slightly better than androids. Social stature depends upon being free of the plague and being free of robotic parts. The treatment Cinder receives because of some of her parts is sadly dehumanizing and a great commentary and what makes us human. Is it our parts? Or something more?
I also love dystopian future tales. Here an extremely contagious plague is sweeping earth, decimating the population, and there appears to be no cure in sight. Cinder becomes involved in trying to find a cure and it all has something to do with the evil Lunar Queen (in my mind she looks like a bee). I enjoyed the origin story of the plague that plays out over the course of the series. It had some elements that reminded me of other stories, in particular The Knife of Never Letting Go, but at the same time was a unique history for the world that Meyer’s created.
But my favorite element in this book was the retelling of the classic fairy tale. Not only is the setting modern, but it is futuristic. Yet, Meyer’s has many little throw backs to the original tale, that if you catch are quite charmingly funny. For example, Cinder finds a beat up old orange VW Bug that she wants to fix up to get away from her stepmother. Her android helper is not so excited about the mechanics of the car, “I’m not sure I would label it a ‘survivor,’” said Iko, her sensor darkening with disgust. “It looks more like a rotting pumpkin.” It’s little pieces of prose like that which show Meyer’s carefully structured wording, world building, and sense of storytelling.
If you enjoy dystopian futuristic stories with cyborgs based on fairy tales, beautiful prose, and story telling that delves into social structures and what it means to be human, check out Marissa Meyer’s Cinder.