Friday, 26 June 2015

'Cinder' by Marissa Meyer (2012)

Synopsis: Cinder is a retelling of the Cinderella fairytale and is the first novel in a young adult sci-fi/fantasy series called The Lunar Chronicles. The various countries of the world have been reorganised into new empires, a deadly plague is ravaging the planet, and the Moon has been colonised by mysterious aliens called the Lunar. Linh Cinder is a 16 year old cyborg and lives in the futuristic city of New Beijing, the capital city of the Eastern Commonwealth. Cinder is essentially the property of her cruel stepmother Adri as cyborgs are viewed as less than human and have no rights. Cinder spends her days toiling away as a mechanic and her only friends are her kind-hearted stepsister Peony and her eccentric robot Iko. Two events then occur which turn her life completely upside down. Firstly Cinder is approached by Crown Prince Kai who secretly hires her to repair an old android, even though Kai is supposed to be preparing for the arrival of the cruel and powerful Lunar queen Levana (who wants to marry Kai and conquer Earth). Secondly, Peony contracts the plague whilst accompanying Cinder on an errand. An enraged Adri then sells Cinder for medical testing. However, when Cinder is injected with the plague she doesn't die and turns out to be immune to the disease. This brings her to the attention of a peculiar scientist called Dr. Erland. As he starts to do research on Cinder's physiology she begins to learn more and more about her mysterious past - and why she might be the only hope for Earth.

I've been hearing some wonderful things about The Lunar Chronicles for a while now so I was really looking forward to reading this first book in the series. To be honest I'm afraid that I can't really recommend Cinder as wholeheartedly as many other book bloggers out there have because there were certain things about this book that just didn't work for me, like the setting. New Beijing wasn't anywhere near as atmospheric as I would have liked. I never really got a feel for the city and apart from a few little things like a Buddha statue being mentioned there was no real indication that the story was taking place somewhere in Asia. It could have been taking place pretty much anywhere so the setting was very underdeveloped in this respect. This book is also very predictable at times - Cinder's true identity is obvious! - and I wasn't particularly sold on the romance between Cinder and Kai. The two of them do get a decent amount of time together but I just didn't feel any chemistry between them.

Having said all that Cinder is a clever and inventive take on the classic Cinderella story and although Marissa Meyer's prose is by no means spectacular it's definitely solid and readable. The thing that I enjoyed the most about this book was all of the political intrigue and brewing tension between the Lunar and the Earthens although I did like Cinder. She's practical, resourceful, sarcastic and brave and is very easy to sympathise with. There are some compelling secondary characters in this book as well. Queen Levana is genuinely sinister and there's far more to Dr. Erland than meets the eye but my favourite amongst the secondary characters was Iko. Her over-the-top personality and crush on Kai was pretty amusing and she actually reminded me a little bit of the grandmother from Disney's Mulan! :)

Although I found Cinder flawed I still thought that it was an engaging and interesting read overall and I am curious about its sequels. I'll probably get round to those books later on in the year.

Rating: 3.5/5


Hayden said...

haha! I never thought about Iko being like Mulan's grandmother, but it fits. :)

Personally, while I really enjoyed Cinder, I like the other books in the series much better. I find the other main characters a little more interesting, but that just might be my personal preference :)

Hannah said...

Thanks, you're not the first person who's said that the series gets better with each book. It's been good to hear! :)

Hamlette said...

Part of me is like, "This looks cool!" and part of me is like, "But I'm not interested." I can't decide. Maybe if I see it on the shelf when I'm trolling for books, I'll pick it up.

BTW, I tagged you here. Play if you want to!