Cinder by Marissa Meyer – Advance Review

Book Jacket:

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.

You can read an excerpt here (and you can download the first five chapters here).

Review:

This book is made of awesome.

There are fairy tale retellings and then there are fairy tale retellings, and Cinder is most definitely one of the later. With cyborgs, viruses, androids, and galactic intrigue, this story takes Cinderella’s fairy tale bones and rounds them out in huggable sci-fi form. This book is just FUN.

Yes, all the hallmarks of the Cinderella story are very much in play – the slipper, the coach, the prince, and the ball – but while we all know they’re coming, Meyer never delivers them in a way you’d expect. Cinderella’s slipper is a cyborg foot several sizes too small; her coach is less a pumpkin and more a lemon in need of serious automotive repair, and the way she makes her grand entrance at the ball is just…priceless. Even the evil stepmother is brought to life in a way both true to Cinderella canon and yet completely of Meyer’s own design, as she rounds out the character in interesting ways. This book is the new wrapped around the familiar, and it makes for an alluring and highly entertaining blend.

As for Cinder herself, she’s hardly waiting for a prince to come and rescue her – Cinder knows very well there are no princes for the likes of her. Daily she faces prejudice and contempt due to her cybernetic parts, and she struggles with a measure of self-loathing over those very same inhumanities. It’s not easy being not fully human, especially in a society where being a cyborg means you’re treated as property instead of a person. But even with the deck stacked against her, Cinder intends full well on playing the hand she’s dealt – and her determination to protect the people (and droids) she cares about, and to make her own fortune, make Cinder a downright irresistible leading lady.

In terms of plot, there’s plenty going on to keep things interesting, but honestly this isn’t the type of story to really get into depth or detail. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love a good sci-fi romp – which this book most certainly is – but just know going in, particularly if you’re a die-hard sci-fi fan, that when it comes to things like the science of the virus, or the background of the galactic politicking, it’s pretty much a quick dip at the trot. This is most definitely light reading.

In the end, this book left me wanting more, in both a good and bad way. As for the bad, I did get ahead of more than one major reveal, and I found myself wistfully wishing for just a bit more complexity to it all – but as for the good, this story charmed my socks off and I absolutely can’t wait to see what Cinder gets up to next. And that ending was just downright painful, in the best way! (Happily, Cinder is only the first in a planned quartet (and like any long-standing Tamora Pierce fan, I do have a soft spot for quartets), with installments based on Little Red Riding Hood (Scarlet), Rapunzel (Cress) and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Winter) on the way.)

With effortless pacing, plenty of heart, and no lack of spunk, Cinder is irresistible sci-fi fun.

Byrt Grade: A

As Levar Burton used to say – you don’t have to take my word for it…

Publishers Weekly (starred review) says:

…Though foreshadowing early on makes it fairly clear where the story is headed, it unfolds with the magic of a fairy tale and the breakneck excitement of dystopian fiction. Meyer’s far-future Earth is richly imagined, full of prejudice and intrigue, characters easy to get invested in, and hints of what might await in future books.

Paperback Dolls say:

This story was like Star Trek, meets Ever After meets Star Wars and then they all three rendezvous in a Japanese manga like Sailor Moon. I know it sounds crazy…and maybe it is a little, but I LOVED IT!

Bibliopunkk says:

Once in a while you discover a book that really stands out…Cinder, a 2012 debut novel by Marissa Meyer, is such a book.

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