Published January 3, 2012.
Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, the 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. (goodreads.com)
I really, really liked CINDER. I haven’t read too many retold fairy tales but CINDER is something written so uniquely that you really have to dig around for any kind of fairy tale resemblance. Sure it’s there but you need to work to see it. In reality though it’s a story that stands on its own legs, a light sci-fi that, even for someone like me, ropes you into this vaguely familiar world with characters that you can get infuriated about and for and watch them plow through the plot of their own accord.
Cinder herself definitely got some swirling emotions going on in me, mainly how she was treated by her adoptive mother and elder of two adoptive sisters. Granted you can’t have Cinderella without some kind of wicked pseudo-family going on but I liked the deviation with Peony. It gave Cinder an ally for a short time, something that made coming home for her a little more bearable. And then there was Adri, Cinder’s pure robot sidekick that gave her another crutch in a world where she was all alone. Neither of these lifelines last very long and when they’re taken away you kind of hate the world a little more. Here you have a girl that’s a victim of her own life that really doesn’t hold it against anyone and she just keeps getting shit on and shit on and shit on. I think Meyer toed the line of what could have been too much FML plot device but I don’t think she ever overdid it. If there was much more it would have been an “oh come on!” moment but I think there was just enough to get the point across without it being ridiculous.
I really liked Prince Kai if for nothing else than he had the reactions I expected him to have. He set himself up as a certain type of character and he played into it well. He’s your average cool guy except he’s a prince. I liked that. And I liked him at the end. I’m sure some people would be like “OMFG how could he just drop her???” but it worked. Cinder built up the world from the beginning, how droids aren’t even looked upon as human and as Kai is built up, and based on other YA boys’ reactions in similar situations, you’d have expect cuddly froo froos at the end with the big reveal. BAM! Expectations thwarted. Maybe I’m demented. Maybe his was a reaction to her lies more than her bot body. Either way he didn’t deviate him his character or the expectations of his character built throughout the story. Kudos to that.
The world itself, as a total world slut, I loved. And I’m not a sci-fi fan. Which is probably why I liked it. As I said above it’s pretty light sci-fi, there’s still a lot of our world prevalent in this new one that can anchor it in something more realistic and there aren’t any weird alien things milling about. It’s still Earth, and a very recognizable Earth, with some homicidal moon people. I liked the homicidal moon people. In fact I really liked Queen Levana. She played a good villain; a bit over the top but it seemed to fit for me. I believed it. The insane vanity, the mind manipulation, the mutated super soldiers. Yes, I could buy into that.
There was one thing that really bothered me about the whole book though: the ending. Holy mother of god I wanted to murder the book at the end. This quite possibly could have been an editorial decision but the ending basically chops off right when the real plot is just starting, making the whole of CINDER one big expository dump. Don’t get me wrong, I LIKED the backstory dump. It was a good story. But it wasn’t the real story. It was character-building for Cinder, a peek into her life before the fecal matter hit the fan. Why isn’t CINDER the real story? Because the story arc isn’t closed. Closing the story arc means that there is an actual story there to close. The end of CINDER is WIDE OPEN. Nothing has been resolved. Not a thing. A BIG REVEAL has been made but even I could see that one coming from the 1/3 point. There is no resolution to anything. Read the next book to find out more.
It’s a shameless way to hook people into the next book. Will I read it? Damn right. But I would have read it anyway, I liked the story that much. No need to pull a “Find out what’s killing your children, tonight at 11” moment on me. The book stood on it’s own, cliffhanger need not apply.
If you’re into fantasy and may want to try a little sci-fi I think CINDER is a good place to start. It worked for me. It’s definitely a great retelling of a classic fairy tale in a new, gritty and disheartening world where happy endings don’t really exist. My kind of book. I’m demented. I know.