I wasn’t expecting to love this, but it was surprisingly clever and cute. Four stars for the first installment in The Lunar Chronicles, which I will definitely continue soon.
Book cover: Cinder

“Sixteen-year-old Cinder is considered a technological mistake by most of society and a burden by her stepmother. Being cyborg does have its benefits, though: Cinder’s brain interference has given her an uncanny ability to fix things (robots, hovers, her own malfunctioning parts), making her the best mechanic in New Beijing. This reputation brings Prince Kai himself to her weekly market booth, needing her to repair a broken android before the annual ball. He jokingly calls it “a matter of national security,” but Cinder suspects it’s more serious than he’s letting on.

Although eager to impress the prince, Cinder’s intentions are derailed when her younger stepsister, and only human friend, is infected with the fatal plague that’s been devastating Earth for a decade. Blaming Cinder for her daughter’s illness, Cinder’s stepmother volunteers her body for plague research, an “honor” that no one has survived.

But it doesn’t take long for the scientists to discover something unusual about their new guinea pig. Something others would kill for.”

(Publisher synopsis via Goodreads)

Cinderella. Is. A. Cyborg. I had no idea I needed this in my life but I’m so happy it exists.

This is one of the better fairytale re-tellings I’ve seen in YA. Strong, bright little Cinder is the perfect update to the old Cinderella stories, not only because her “slipper” is a robotic foot, but because she’s given a three-dimensional, grounded inner life. I liked Cinder, but more importantly, I felt like I understood her. I cared about her life, which is not something you can say about every princess reboot. It’s very difficult to make a re-telling seem character-driven and logically motivated, but Meyer’s writing makes the whole thing make sense to me.

There’s some plague and violence and death in Cinder’s world, as teen readers generally want, but Meyer never goes so dark that she gets out of step with the fluffy romance.

Book cover: The Selection

I wish I’d read this one when it came out–I would have been the perfect age. I’d definitely recommend Cinder as an introduction to YA fantasy for a younger reader or a first stop for a new reader that wants something recent that’s still familiar.

I have some reservations about the world-building.Cinder has a lot in common with The Selection in tone, audience, and pretty dresses, and the two books have some of the same world-building problems. I’m not a fan of the vague explanation that “mysterious world war leads somehow to the consolidation of modern-day countries into larger countries along simplified boundaries of perceived culture or ethnicity,” and I keep seeing it over and over. It irritates the part of my brain honed by a history degree, and just feels like a cop-out that lets the author off the hook from putting real thought into that part of the setting.

This is a pretty minor issue, all things considered, since it’s so tangential to the point of the book. Cinder isn’t meant to be a particularly deep read or immersive fantasy… it’s just supposed to be fun. And it is.

4 thoughts on “Book Review: CINDER by Marissa Meyer”

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