Marissa Meyer – Cinder (plus bonus short story review “Glitches”)
Length: 390 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Started: 26 July 2014
Finished: 28 July 2014
Why do I have it? I saw it all over the place when it came out (and I have no idea why I didn’t read it at the time. Fairy tale retellings! Young adult sci-fi! What whas I waiting for.) But I finally got on the stick because Marissa Meyer was doing an event in my town!
Where did it come from? Originally downloaded the Kindle version, but then I bought a copy at the signing. Can’t get an e-book signed!
Saying “Ah, screw it!”
has a whole different meaning
when you’re a cyborg.
Summary: Cinder is a young woman and a gifted mechanic… well, she’s mostly a young woman. She’s actually a cyborg, with mechanical components installed in a surgery when she was a girl – a surgery that marks the beginning of her memory, with everything before it a frightening blank. She was adopted by a scientist named Garan, but he died shortly thereafter from letumosis, a virulent plague that’s been ravaging the population. That left Cinder in the “care” of Adri, who treats her as little more than a possession. And in truth, cyborgs are very much second-class citizens, leaving Cinder with no real friends except for Iko, an android with a malfunctioning personality chip, and Peony, Adri’s youngest daughter. Then one day, a customer at Cinder’s stall turns out to be the handsome Prince Kai in disguise, seeking help for one of his androids. Cinder’s taken with him, and he seems to like her, but she knows it can never work… he’s got more important things on his mind, like negotiating peace with the powerful and dangerous Queen Levanna, from Luna. Plus, he’s a prince… and she knows he would be disgusted if he ever found out her true cyborg nature.
Review: Why did no one sit me down and tell me to read this two years ago? C’mon, people! You’re all fired. (Myself included. I should have been all over this well before now.)
This book was right smack up the middle of my alley. I love fairy tales, I love fairy tale retellings, and I especially love when they’re done in a creative way. Cinder does a bang-up job of it, keeping all of the recognizable elements of the familiar story, but tweaking all of them into a new context (I mean, it’s Cinderella, but you know from the first line that she’s not exactly going to be losing a slipper so much as a foot!), and adding enough subplots to keep things interesting. Meyer’s writing is light and easy and mostly unobtrusive, allowing the story to take center stage. (Although I did notice a few errors in the e-book. A “coy pond” full of fish; ouch.)
The plague angle added some interesting elements and emotions to the story, and allowed Meyer to bring in some darker aspects to the book. The whole bit with the Lunar Queen and the Lunars’ powers was a little bit far-fetched – maybe closer to fantasy than sci-fi – but it’s used well, and there are lots of interesting possibilities as to where the story can go from here. I did figure out Cinder’s backstory basically right away, but then, fairy tales are by their nature a little predictable, so I can’t fault it too much for that. But the best part was definitely the characters. The villains were appropriately villainous, Peony was adorable, and Iko stole most of the scenes she was in. Cinder and Kai were both believable as young people trying to figure out their place in the world as best they can, and extremely likable to boot. Overall, I had a lot of fun reading this one, and I’ll definitely be reading the sequels. 4 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: There’s a huge market in teen SF/F these days, and this is definitely a worthwhile entry in the genre. Fans of fairy tales and/or futuristic (semi-dystopian) sci-fi should all really enjoy this one.
Other Reviews: Unsurprisingly, there are a ton at the Book Blogs Search Engine.
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.
First Line: The screw through Cinder’s ankle had rusted, the engraved cross marks worn to a mangled circle.
I also read the free short story “Glitches” by Marissa Meyer, which is a prequel to Cinder. This story starts a few days after the surgery that made Cinder into a cyborg. Garan is bringing her home for the first time, and she has to cope with her new enhancements, which were not explained to her, and the disturbing blank of her memory before the surgery. But most of all, she must deal with her new family – the friendliness of her new younger sister, Peony, and the contempt of her new stepmother, Adri – and find some way to at least make herself useful, if she can’t fit in.
This story is pretty short, and I can’t judge how well it would work on its own, without having read Cinder. But after reading the novel, I thought it was quite interesting. Not that it really tells us much we didn’t already know – although I don’t know if it had sunk in during the novel that Cinder had had to figure out how her info feed and her hearing and her orange light worked all on her own. But I really enjoyed seeing a younger Cinder, and getting to “meet” Garan – and most particularly, seeing Adri in a different light, seeing what she was like when her husband was alive. Good stuff.
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