Is it a cinderella story?! SPIKED LEVELS OF ADRENALINE. RECOMMENDED COURSE OF ACTION: SLOW, MEASURED BREATHS. COUNTING 1, 2, 3…

Title: Cinder

Author: Marissa Meyer

Genre: Science-Fiction (cyberpunk?)

Synopsis:

Did you say Cinderella? My heart just swelled up like Kirby, swallowed Cinderella whole and floated off into Dream Land. I’m only just hacking up the 36% of indigestible metal.

Here, Cinderella is – as expected – squished down to the bottom of the junk pile. Without further ado, my heart bleeds for her. But she does remarkably well surviving in a prejudiced futuristic society where there are more reasons to snub a person than a group of Victorians at tea can come up with. She’s already an orphan, and there’s no Matthew to drive her down the White Way of Delight into a charming gabled house in the countryside. There’s only an over-populated cramped city with the stench of plague and garbage on the breeze. And did I mention that 36% of her is made of metal? Including the oft sought for, foot? Apparently futuristic earthens, with their increasing reliance on complicating technology, still can’t get over the horror of a person with prosthetic limbs. It’s hard to catch a break around here. In fact, Cinder’s busily applying herself to fixing broken down mechanicals (by slamming them repeatedly onto hard surfaces, even the experts recommend this) when she first meets Prince Charming. Prince Kai appears, to the oblivious market day mob, as a crazy homeless dude in a hoodie, toting a broken down bot. But thanks to her visual interface being hooked up to the net, Cinder is all ready to greet His Highness. And thanks to the temperature sensitive control panel in her brain, she doesn’t make a fool of herself blushing like mad, although there is some awkward one-legged bowing. So Cinderella and Prince Charming meet in chapter one and the story is well on its way to a bell-tolling wedding day frenzy!

Or so I thought (I know, I’m being unreasonable here, but I expect this relationship to work itself out in the span of one book!)

But, like I said, it’s hard to catch a break around here. Some prejudices just can’t be put aside so easily and some death-defying political manoeuvrings have no room for grandiose acts in the name of love; and frankly, even though a dude’s in love with our main girl, there are more things at stake than a broken heart.

Here we have an anti-cry, wired up Cinderella who grits her teeth and wields her wrench and is only mildly disappointed at the grease and rips and dents she collects along the way to saving her prince and earth from total destruction.

And also, it’s a Cinderella story, so relax and enjoy, you’re on autopilot.

Impressions:

Being cyborg Cinderella was a possibility for Halloween last year, but I ended up being zombie tooth fairy. Oh well. Maybe this year?

Anyway, Cinder is the first book in a quartet that promises to end in 2015. 2015??!! By then we will see cyborgs and hovercrafts in the daily news. Nooooo! I missed that page when I started reading so I fully expected the whole story to conclude by the last chapter, neatly, and perhaps with Cinder exacting her revenge on the mean ones and cutsey robots serving chilled drinks at her wedding. *SIGH*.

Regardless, I must concede that the plot complications introduced in book one could not possibly be resolved in one puny book alone and would require massive tomes to follow. And, though the story moves quite fast, there isn’t really time for our main couple to get to know each other. Firstly, I don’t completely understand why Kai has taken a fancy to Cinder, except for the fact that she’s the best mechanic in New Beijing. They hardly get that many scenes together, and when they are alone together it’s usually in an elevator, and he turns on his princely charm and she tries not to fry her circuits. In fact, she doesn’t even get to fixing his broken bot until well into the novel so how can he even tell if she’s really the great mechanic she’s rumored to be? Many of the scenes that display the real shine in Cinder’s personality do not involve Prince Kai at all. So, he really doesn’t know her. And it’s all the more confusing that every time he sees her he feels the compulsion to give her special attention. It must be the novelty of seeing a girl with grease in her hair and ripped cargo pants. Those must be hard to find in futuristic earth, where gender stereotypes still exist.

Plotwise, once you’re nicely settled into the world, it’s not too difficult to make the guesses. The only surprise I really had was the fact that the story didn’t end by the last page. There were some frustrating scenes where SOMETHING IMPORTANT was about to be revealed – usually by Dr. Erland – but a whole slew of beeping communicators and flabbergasted angry heroines prevented such information to be passed on efficiently, leading to a prolonging of the plot device’s expiration date.

Also, for some reason, I don’t feel like there’s enough meanness from the step relations. Okay, Cinder’s life is already on the rocks, but I’ve read some Cinderella re-tellings where the relations were absolutely UNBEARABLE. Like that terrible donkey butt (excuse my imagery) Hattie in Ella Enchanted. And yes, Adri did send Cinder off to terrible places, and she does appear to be fairly lazy and self-involved, but I wasn’t scared of Adri at all. Maybe it’s because stepmom’s petty meanness pales in comparison with the conniving intelligence of Queen Levana who is not only intelligent, but jealous and stubborn and has bioelectrical powers of manipulation to brain control people (which she prefers to call, magic). She’s the real terror. You’ll have to read the book to find out how terrible.

Prince Kai is the guy with the true problems. He’s stuck in an excruciatingly painful stalemate by the end of the book and fending off frivolous moony girls at his coronation ball is the least of his worries. The commonwealth he rules is infested with a plague, the Lunars are bombarding him with their bioelectrical brain waves, and he can’t even get a mechanic to fix his broken robot promptly. It’s never been so tough to be a Prince.

So, the real issue I have with this book is we’ve got two well-developed characters – I just don’t understand how they will fit into each other’s lives, personality-wise?

I definitely foresee more antics to come in the next few books involving Cinder getting more comfortable with the truth of her heritage, and continuing to try to save the Prince and Earth single-footedly. Perhaps the next book will reveal a more believable romance between Cinder and Kai because right now the romance is a love-at-first-sight type, which is fine for a start but needs more juicyness added, in my opinion.

Rating: 3.5 consort robots with ideal feminine shapes and a weakness for shoes

Excerpt:

Cinder slammed shut the apartment door and marched into the living room. Adri was sitting stiff beside the hearth, glowering at Cinder as if she’d been waiting for her.

Cinder clenched her fists. “How dare you send for me like some common criminal? Didn’t you think that maybe I was in the middle of something?”

“How dare I treat you like a common cyborg, you mean?” Adri folded her hands in her lap. “You are a common cyborg, and one who is under my legal jurisdiction. It is my duty to ensure you don’t become a menace to society, and it seemed quite clear that you were abusing the privileges I’ve allowed you in the past.”

“What privileges?”

“I have always allowed you freedom, Cinder, to do as you like, to go where you like. But it’s come to my attention you do not respect the boundaries and responsibilities that come with that freedom.”

Cinder frowned and drew back. She’d had her own angry speech repeating in her head the entire hover ride home. She had not been expecting Adri to bite back with a speech of her own. “Is it because I didn’t respond to a few comms?”

Adri tucked her shoulders back. “What were you doing at the palace today, Cinder?”

Cinder’s heart skipped. “The palace?”

Adri raised a calm eyebrow.

“You’ve been tracking my ID.”

“You’ve made it necessary to take precautions.”

“I haven’t done anything.”

“You haven’t answered my question.”

Cinder’s internal warnings went off. Spiking adrenaline. She sucked down a breath. “I went to join the protests, all right? Is that a crime?”

“I was under the impression that you were in the basement, working, as you were supposed to be doing. To sneak out of the house without permission, without even informing me, to attend some gratuitous parade, and all the while Peony is –“ Her voice hitched. Adri lowered her eyes, collected herself, but her voice was thicker when she spoke again. “Your records also show you took a hover ride today, to the outskirts of the city, the old warehouse district. It seems clear to me that you were attempting to run away.”

“Run away? No. There is… that’s where…” She hesitated. “There’s an old parts store down there. I was going for parts.”

“Is that so? And pray tell, where did you get the money for the hover?”

Biting her lip, Cinder sank her gaze to the floor.

“This is unacceptable,” said Adri. “I will not tolerate such behavior from you.”

Cinder heard shuffling in the hallway. Glancing around the door, she saw Pearl sneaking from her bedroom, drawn to her mother’s raised voice. She turned back to Adri.

“After everything that I’ve done for you,” continued Adri, “everything we’ve sacrificed, you have the gall to steal from me.”

Cinder frowned. “I didn’t steal from you.”

“No?” Adri’s knuckles whitened. “A few univs for a hover ride I could have overlooked, Cinder, but tell me, where did you obtain 600 univs in order to pay for your – “ Her eyes fell to Cinder’s boots, lips curling in a sneer. “ –your new limb? Isn’t it true that that money was reserved for rent and food and household expenses?”

Cinder’s stomach clenched.

Other reviews:

-Angie from Angieville: “Cinder is quite a serious book, both in the sense that it takes itself seriously and that it deals with serious issues, such as death, disease, class conflict, and war. I think I was expecting something lighter, but the whole taking-itself-seriously and the fascinating world building quickly set me at ease. I loved the attention to detail with which Ms. Meyer depicted the grimness of Cinder’s life and her world.”

-Cat from Beyond Books: ” This book is FANFRICKENTASTIC and if you like YA literature and you like whimsy and great character development and gripping mysteries and future stuff – then get your hands (be they human or cyborg) on a copy of this book right away!”

-Jennie from Blibliophile: “Several people have complained that there’s not a lot of spark between Cinder and Prince Kai. There’s not. There’s some “oo hot guy that I oddly respond to” but no swoon or insta-love. I’m ok with that, because it’s not like we’re being TOLD that they lurve each other and not seeing it. They’re attracted to each other but don’t really know each other and I can see this turning into a slow burn that ratchets up over the next few books.”

-Sheila from Book Journey: “Cinder is the first  have read like this and I loved how incredibly well done the book is.  Marissa Meyer weaves between this Apocolyptic time and the storyline of the original Cinderella I am amazed at how she does it.  All the key elements are there, the crabby step mother, the prince, the ball, the dress, and even something orange to arrive in but I wont tell you what…. ;)

– Skye from BookRain: “This is a fast read, and completely entertaining. It’s not so exhaustively high-tech to the point that you don’t understand what the heck is going on either.  I think this qualifies as a dystopian book, because although the world is high-tech, the world is bleak with disease threatening to kill and no antidote to be found. Plus society is against our protagonist and poor Cinder goes through more than one identity crisis.”

Bookshelves of Doom: “Man, I love that sci-fi is getting huge. Cinder is loads of fun—mostly due to seeing a familiar story play out in a new setting, but Cinder herself is also a tough, smart, mouthy, resourceful heroine, so spending almost 400 pages with her is completely enjoyable—and I’m totally, totally looking forward to the next one in the series. ”

-Emily from Emily’s Reading Room: “Cinder is an exciting heroine who can look out for herself. And because of the cruelty of her stepmother, she has been doing just that. But, in spite of her stepmother’s and stepsister’s disdain for her, Cinder finds friendship in her other stepsister, Peony, and android Iko. Add to that an old pumpkin-orange car, and an ill-fitting foot that falls off at a pivotal moment, and you have a redesigned Cinderella with plenty of endearing touches.”

Hitting on Girls in Bookstores: Video Review

-Miss Remmers from Miss Remmers’ Reviews: “”Cinder” is more than a re-imagining of the classic Cinderella story but is more comparable to Star Wars meets “Across the Universe” with a little bit of Cinderella twisted in type of story. When I think of Cinderella, I think of foolish stepsisters, a wicked stepmother, a quiet and almost ridiculous Prince, and of course the few mice and pumpkins. “Cinder” on the other hand incorporates one evil, and I mean REALLY, evil stepsister (what a brat!), and WITCH of a stepmother!, a handsome, humorous, and chivalrous Prince, with a few androids sprinkled in.”

-Enna Isilee from Squeaky Books: “One of the things I loved about this book is that, even aside from being sci-fi, Marissa wasn’t afraid to make the fairy-tale her own. This book isn’t predictable because it follows the original/Disney Cinderella. She has so many more things that make it unique. Moon-people with “magic” powers, a robot helper (instead of mice), and a stepsister who actually likes her! So fun! One of my pet-peeves is when fairy-tale “retellings” are SO close to the original story that it’s a stretch to call them a “retelling.””

The Book Muncher: “It boils down to this: Cinder is one spectacularly written, incredibly imaginative and romantic, futuristic fairytale retelling. Ordinarily, Cinderella as a cyborg is a concept that sounds a little odd to me, but debut author Meyer makes it work wonderfully. Her worldbuilding feels so effortless and integrated that everything from androids to an evolved race of people living on the moon to an unusually deadly plague feels completely natural within the story. This is a novel that readers will find easy to become invested in, because of the vivid characters, the futuristic setting, and the irresistibility of such a good story.”

-Thea from The Book Smugglers: “I also have to agree with Ana in that I didn’t buy the romance between Kai and Cinder. I don’t really think there’s much to go on with Kai’s character. For all that he seems like a nice guy and hits all the right prince charming notes, there’s nothing distinct, memorable or anything to connect with when it comes to our prince. As far as the other characters are concerned, I share Ana’s appreciation of the Lunar Queen Levana – she’s a pretty badass villainess. The other standout character, to me, is Cinder’s stepmother Adri (though again, weird name choice) – I appreciate that Ms. Meyer shows a depth to Adri and her attachment to Cinder’s adoptive father, which lends a humanity to what could have been a one note villain.”

-Ana from The Book Smugglers: “Story-wise, Cinder has different yet interconnected threads. On one hand, there is Cinder and her family life, her difficulties at being unloved and exploited by her stepfamily which in this novel are further complicated by the fact that she is a Cyborg in a world that doesn’t exactly welcome them as equal beings to humans. On the other hand, there is the world in the future and the plague, the stress of the politics between the Earth and the Moon and its Lunar people and their Queen. All of this combines in a way to build Cinder’s internal and external conflict and I thought all was really well done especially with regards to the world-building and the fairytale crossover. Although the Cinderella elements are almost secondary to the story, I thought they were expertly handled by the author and it was fun how certain aspects of the tale were incorporated differently here (like the shoe, the carriage, etc). It also has to be said that there is of course, a certain level of predictability stemming from the connection with Cinderella as well as fairly obvious plot twist about Cinder’s true identity. In fact, this was so obvious that I suggest this was done on purpose. To me, it made it all the more fun to follow Cinder through the discoveries she was making.”

The Story Siren: “The one thing that impressed me the most was the story. I absolutely loved it. I loved the world that Meyer created and the characters, I loved how she took one of my favorite fairy tales and MADE IT BETTER! And after that ending, wow! I am dying for book two, literally dying!”

whatchYAreading

-prophecygirl from Wondrous Reads: “Cinder is such a brilliant debut novel, exciting and fresh and totally unexpected. The way everything unfolds is clever, and the parallels with Cinderella are fun to spot. There are three more books coming in this Lunar Chronicles series, each centred around three other female fairytale heroes, and OMG I cannot wait to read them. If they’re anything like Cinder, we are in for a real literary treat.”

-Megan from Write Meg: “Cinder has a little bit of everything beneath its intriguing cover: romance; family dynamics; threat of annihilation; magical Lunar people. There’s all this talk of who Cinder really is and where she comes from and why she’s so special, so different from everyone else. There’s Prince Kai, who we’re told is all hottie hot (a rebellious Prince Harry, if you will). There’s all this talk of impending doom and disaster, and yet . . . I didn’t feel it.”

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8 comments

  1. Wow, I LOVE the idea of cyborg Cinderella as a Halloween costume. I do not feel confident enough in my costuming abilities to attempt that, but I will try to pass the idea on to somebody else.

  2. Sheila – Thanks! Can’t believe we have to wait another year for the next one!!

    Jenny – Haha, it’s not like I have great designer ideas in mind. Once I tried to be evil Alice in Wonderland, but failed utterly as everyone assumed I was just some goth girl. But, cyborg cinderella should be more fun — get a nice puffy dress, some nice shiny shoes, and…need to think of a way to incorporate the metal tastefully ;P

  3. Ha, great review! Very happy to have stumbled upon your site. (Needless to say, I too share your frustration of characters who are unable to simply say what they need to, resulting in books that are rather longer than they damn’ well need to be. Romance novels, I’m talking to you!)

  4. Cassie – Thanks! Hopefully I will have posted something new by that time 😛

    Stephanie – Thanks for stopping by and Oh, yes, those romance novels can lead a reader in triangles before the obvious gets resolved!

  5. It seems that this book is very popular, generally, but I am in the middle of reading it at the moment and it has yet to amaze me. I mean, I do like it…but I don’t love it…yet. Hopefully, it’ll get better! Like you, I can’t quite see why Kai has taken a shine to Cinder…seems to me, at the moment, that their romance is just there for the sake of keeping up the ‘Cinderella’ plotline…

  6. Catherine – Thanks for stopping by my blog! I agree with you, the plotline has lots of potential for coolness but right now I don’t feel any genuine chemistry between the two lovers. I will still continue to read on, though, maybe it gets better later 🙂

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