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Marissa Meyer – Cinder (plus bonus short story review “Glitches”)

August 13, 2014

63. Cinder by Marissa Meyer (2012)
The Lunar Chronicles, Book 1

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.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

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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16 Comments leave one →
  1. medievalbookworm permalink
    August 13, 2014 2:05 pm

    I got completely hooked on these books and I’m glad to see that you enjoyed Cinder too! I hope you enjoy the next ones just as much. :)

    I have never read Glitches. I will have to go acquire it.

    • August 15, 2014 4:39 pm

      It used to be on Tor.com but then they took it down for reasons unknown. The Amazon link up there is to a (free!) Kindle anthology that has it, though.

  2. August 13, 2014 8:53 pm

    I also really liked this and read it after the hype was almost overwhelming. It’s nice to find a book that lives up to its hype. Definitely looking forward to book 4 coming out!

    • August 15, 2014 4:40 pm

      Stephanie – Agreed, too much hype can definitely hurt my enjoyment of a book. Maybe that’s why I waited so long?

  3. August 13, 2014 9:38 pm

    >>> A “coy pond” full of fish; ouch.

    Ahahahaha, this made me laugh. Someone should really have caught that. Oh homonyms.

    If you don’t like Scarlet, keep going, yeah? Scarlet was my least favorite of the existing three books — I didn’t connect with the characters at all, and I missed Cinder when she wasn’t around. But there was good stuff in Cress, and I’m looking forward to the fourth and final one.

    • August 15, 2014 4:41 pm

      Jenny – I’ve started Scarlet, and am not falling into it the same as I did with Cinder, although that could just as easily be the circumstances (on vacation for Cinder vs. trying to get my fall classes in shape now) as anything to do with the books itself. Still good to hear that Cress is fun, though!

  4. August 16, 2014 7:53 pm

    These were SO good. I don’t know why it took me so long to read them either.

    • August 24, 2014 11:14 am

      Lu – I’m going to partly blame the hype, and partly blame myself for not listening more to the hype. :)

  5. August 20, 2014 7:52 pm

    I loved this book and the ones that followed. I can’t wait to read the fourth and final book. I like how she retells the stories, adding just enough humor to get a chuckle from me. Lots of fun!

    • August 24, 2014 11:15 am

      Jami – I’m definitely excited about the next book(s)! And also happy that I started the series as the last book is near publication, so I don’t have to wait too long!

      • August 24, 2014 3:33 pm

        It is nice to find a series where almost all the books have been written. I hate waiting. I’d rather binge read or watch a series.

  6. August 20, 2014 11:13 pm

    I love this series–and they just keep getting better! I didn’t know about the short story prequel–definitely must investigate. :) Thanks!

    • August 24, 2014 11:16 am

      Cheryl – I think she’s written short stories to go between each of the novels – my copy of Scarlet had the story “The Queen’s Army” included, which was Wolf’s origin story.

  7. August 23, 2014 4:08 pm

    I agree with Jenny above – Scarlet is my least favorite, but Cress really makes up for it. I am REALLY excited for #4!

    • August 24, 2014 11:17 am

      Elizabeth – I thought Scarlet was good, although not as good as Cinder. I’ve got Cress sitting on my end table, waiting for me to get a chance to read it!

  8. September 18, 2014 5:13 am

    oh but it’s got cyborgs! I never realised and I’ve seen this reviewed all over the place. Never once bothered to read more about it as the cover didn’t attract me. Now I get it. Totally going on my wish list :)

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