REVIEW: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

cinder_book_coverAUTHOR: Marissa Meyer

PUBLISHER: Feiwel & Friends

DATE PUBLISHED: January 3, 2012

RATING: 4-5-star-rating-md

SYNOPSIS (from Goodreads): 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.

 

Admit it. There are books on your bookcase that had sat since the dawn of dinosaurs and not until you hauled them out of obscurity did you notice how damn wrong you were in not picking it up eons ago. For me, this is Cinder.

I guess it fits to say Cinder (or the Lunar Chronicles in its entirety) belongs to the hype spectrum. There’s a humongous hesitant monster  dwelling in me fighting the urge to try this because well, you know how raves can be deceitful. But when you put your faith into the author rather than the hype, it will pay off. (Now someone’s becoming overly melodramatic!).

Marissa Meyer adapted her story from a renowned fairy tale about a girl and a glass slipper and a happily ever after in a way that detonated with so much spectacular elements . The fusion of fairy tale and dystopia brought forth an incredibly wonderful refreshing story. The elements weren’t exactly a photocopy of Cinderella but an adaptation. The twists in these – cyborg, benevolent stepsister, spunky main character, etc. -, knickknacks that they were, added originality to the overall world-building.

It wasn’t easy to get into it at the prime (at least for me, that’s the case) although that’s just for a fleeting moment. Well, all fantasies are like that I believe. It takes a pre-conditioning phase before one is completely submerged in it. One thing that contributed to my sky-high rating on this book is the writing. It’s easy to get into that either a ten-year old or a thirty-year old could have sufficient reasons to cling to.

The setting of Cinder is anchored in New Beijing. I’ve never set foot in China but I know enough about it like how you would a next-door neighbor. In terms of representation, the novel had slight to moderate offenses and failures. Not that it skewed the culture or anything but it missed the opportunity to epitomize. Apart from the names and the monarchy, there’s not much of a hint it is of Chinese pedigree. However, it can be argued that it turned out to be such a picture because of its fantasy nature in a dystopian setting which could have altered the entire scene. I was hoping for some Asian heritage though.

This book took me in an expedition that’s gripping and action-packed enough to keep me flipping through the pages constantly. I love how everything – cyborg, lunars, letumosis, etc. – was woven beautifully to churn out a good story.  There was a plot twist though if you’re not a noob in the YA genre, this won’t knock your socks off. There’s no way to miss it across the hint-strewn pages of this novel. Normally, I would take this against the book (…and might even allot a paragraph of tirade on it) but in the face of such, for some reasons, there’s none for me to despise. 

There’s a good mixture of characters with personalities complementing and clashing with each other smartly. Cinder is very Cinderella except she’s feisty and badass. Unlike the ever submissive royal princess that we grew up knowing, Cinder had rebuttals on her stepmother’s tongue lashing. Prince Kai, described as the prime suspect to Iko’s fan overheating, was as usual, extremely handsome. Why am I not surprised?

“He was the fantasy of every girl in the country. He was so far out of realm, her world, that she should have stopped thinking about him the second the door had closed. Should stop thinking about him immediately. Should never think about him again, except maybe as a client–and her prince.
And yet, the memory of his fingers against her skin refused to fade.”

Queen Levana reminds me of Cersei Lannister from A Song of Ice and Fire, cunning enough to use her fair feature so people will do shit for her. And of course, the main character’s got to have a cool adviser, someone who’ll tell our hero/heroine to keep things together. I don’t know, the existence of such is just so trendy. In this story, that’s Dr. Erlan.

With all these things being said, the reason for me to pick up Scarlet, the next installment, is more than enough. I recommend this book to you if you’re up for fairy tales tainted with dystopian and fantasy elements. If you’re after the happily-ever-after ending, there’s nothing for me to conclude it will guarantee or rob you off with such. Better find it out yourself.


 

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18 comments

  1. Great review, Trisha!! I agree, there were definitively some failures in representing Asian culture. I think it borrowed a lot from stereotypes or superficial features of Asian culture, like the use of honorifics or the designs of some stuff. Idk. I think it deserves a participation award.

    I haven’t read Scarlet but I heard the series gets better with each book! I shall patiently await your review for Scarlet – see if its worth picking up. 😀

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    • You are right! I kinda had a feeling it only used New Beijing as the setting to say it’s completely diverse when in truth, it’s underrepresented.

      I heard that about Scarlet as well! And I’m excited that it’s on a different POV. I will let you know if it’s good 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Love this post! I am currently reading Cinder, and I’ve heard a lot of different reviews about it (I’m not super far into it yet)

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  3. Yayyy, I’m so glad you finally decided to pick this one up Trisha! 😀 I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the others, and sooooo totally agree with you and cw about the lack of Asian representation. I remember reading it and looking back and going “WAIT LMAO I totally forgot that was set in ‘New’ Beijing” because it just didn’t, well, feel like it.
    I can’t wait for you to read the rest!! Imo they get better and bettah

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    • I didn’t know it was this good! To be honest, it didn’t stand out from the others because there’s the cliche of insta-love and very very predictable twist in the end and ugh that under-representation! But hmm maybe because I had a long hiatus from fantasy that I liked it. Ahh yes I will jump to the next of the series sooooon 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for this great review! I still need to read this book, and with all of the hype around it, it’s hard to, well, pick it up and read it without having too many expectations. It’s too bad though, that it doesn’t represent Asian culture too well, that would have been even more great and refreshing 🙂

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    • Ahh yes. I get what you mean about that. I really think the reason I liked this despite the fact it wasn’t the most diverse story is because I read it at the time it wasn’t much talked about. Haha! It was under-represented unfortunately but I hope things will pick up on Scarlet 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I read this book way back when it first came out – and I remember not being too impressed with it. Like the concept was awesome – with fairy tale retelling being very new in YA back then and Asian protagonist pretty much non existent – but like you said, I felt New Beijing could have been ANYWHERE, the book was quite deprived on cultural tidbits. Which is why I get annoyed when I hear TLC being rec as diverse books, because they’re very much ordinary fantasy. I do hope the sequels improve on this first book, as I have the rest of them to read… Better luck with Scarlet!

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    • I imagine I would feel the same way as you did if I read it back when a lot of people are raving about it. Sometimes, reading without the hype does wonder. Haha! I really thought Marissa Meyer attempted for diversity here for using New Beijing as the setting without even researching about the culture or not opting for such to be manifested here. That’s one weakness but as you said, things will be better in Scarlet and the next installment so I’m excited! 😀

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  6. I definitely think the series gets better as it goes on. The Lunar Chronicles are a more unique spin on retellings especially now with so many out there. Marissa Meyer created such a unique twist on those stories. Hope you keep going and love the rest of them!

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  7. Wonderful review, Trisha! I am so happy you enjoyed this book as much as you did. I think I mentioned before like way back but I’m part of the majority that didn’t like it that much. I never found it that compelling and hard to get into like you mentioned how you felt briefly. I’m still going to reread and continue the series since I’ve heard such promising things. Maybe my reading has changed since having read it! 😛

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    • I totally understand where you’re coming from. I feel like the time I read this is just perfect that’s why I loved it but maybe in other occasions especially after reading a wonderful novel, I might not. After all, it’s not the most original and extraordinary story. And yes! It gets better on the next installments of the series! 😀

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  8. I am glad you’re continuing in the series. A Lot of people didn’t care for Scarlet, BUT it happened to be one of my favs. So I hope you like it too. If you don’t like it as much please disregard it and continue on to Cress. Everyone LOVES Cress, myself included! It’s just such a great series. Great review Trish. I look forward to hearing your thoughts as you progress through the series.
    #commenting365

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    • Ahh thank you, Gwendolyn! Really? So far I haven’t heard any negative feedback from Cress yet. I hope I really find it to my liking when I get to it. And yes! I heard so many good things about Cress! I’m really excited to see how the story will pan out. 😀

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