Sooner or later, I knew that I’d need to stop only doing wrap ups and start doing full on book reviews. This won’t happen for every book I read, but I thought I’d practice writing out what I’m going to say on Youtube, on my blog, at least some of the time. So without further ado, let’s get into a review for the most recent book I finished, which is Cinder by Marissa Meyer.
Cinder was one of those books that was mega-hyped on Booktube, which can be it’s own curse as then I go into it with mile high expectations, and here was no exception. The long and the short of it is that I did not love this book, but I liked it well enough. Onwards with my thoughts!
First let’s start with the blurb:
Sixteen-year-old Cinder is considered a technological mistake by most of society and a burden by her stepmother. Being cyborg does have its benefits, though: Cinder’s brain interference has given her an uncanny ability to fix things (robots, hovers, her own malfunctioning parts), making her the best mechanic in New Beijing. This reputation brings Prince Kai himself to her weekly market booth, needing her to repair a broken android before the annual ball. He jokingly calls it “a matter of national security,” but Cinder suspects it’s more serious than he’s letting on.
Although eager to impress the prince, Cinder’s intentions are derailed when her younger stepsister, and only human friend, is infected with the fatal plague that’s been devastating Earth for a decade. Blaming Cinder for her daughter’s illness, Cinder’s stepmother volunteers her body for plague research, an “honor” that no one has survived.
But it doesn’t take long for the scientists to discover something unusual about their new guinea pig. Something others would kill for.
When I first began reading the story, I admit that the extent of what I knew about the story was: 1. people live on the moon, 2. it’s sci fi, 3. cyborg Cinderella. The amount of hype this book was getting, paired with the phrase “cyborg Cinderella” is what prompted me to read this book, as Cinderella is far from my favourite fairy tale.
The original Cinderella was too passive for my tastes. To be fair her options were limited back in the day of her (original) fairy tale, as running away / being a single woman on her own probably would not have been wise, but I like to see my princesses taking control of their destiny. I feared that in this incarnation the only real challenges Cinder would face was being a cyborg and being a slave to her mother and stepsisters, how wrong I was (keep in mind I didn’t read the full synopsis initially)! There was plenty more going on to keep the steamboat chugging along.
Cinder herself is quite strong in her opinions, but has to overcome her fear of being seen for what she actually is. That being said, although I respected her and what she was doing, I didn’t feel connected with Cinder or any of the other characters. Also, that plot twist? Clearly visible from a mile away.
Furthermore, I was wondering why Adri and Pearl had come to hate Cinder so much, and where the general hatred of cyborgs came from in this society. While I liked Peony, I was wondering what happened to make Peony different from her sister and mother. Kai was just very, “meh.” I did like how he had a strong moral compass, and his flirtations were cute, but beyond that he didn’t have much of a character. He was rather bland. That being said, I do love Cinderella incarnations where they actually meet and have a relationship prior to the ball. It’s one of the reasons why I love the 1997 Roger’s and Hammerstein musical version of Cinderella staring Brandy so much.
The scifi aspects were fun, but at times the world building is a bit clunky, for example how is there top of the line technology in some senses (everyone seemingly owning an android) but people are still scrimping and saving and working their asses off in hot crowded markets? Why are cyborgs considered worse than second class citizens, when they are essentially human? Why hate upon these humans who have been saved and who have in some ways been improved upon?
Another thing that baffles me, as someone who has a minor in Japanese studies, has lived in Korea for 3 years and am in my second year of living in Taiwan, is how mish-mash New Beijing is in terms of different Asian cultures. What happened in history to give a prince centered in New Beijing a Japanese name? Why does the author just randomly insert some Asian thing she’s aware of that exist? What’s with the honorifics and their use (and how it makes pretty much no sense)? These are some of the many questions I have for the author. I mean maybe there’s a historical reason for it, after all within the universe Meyer has created, but if a reason exists she never makes it clear. It just smacks of wanting to have an exotic locale, but not putting in the research required or caring enough about how different regions of Asia are in fact different.
So yes overall it was a fun enough ride, but I didn’t get the pure love vibe that many seem to get from this book. Still, I’ll be there for the next installment as I’ve heard that this is very much a groundwork book, and things will just continue to get better from here-on-in. One thing I do wonder about, however, I that the next book is supposed to focus on a new fairy tale, yet at the same time still follow the character Cinder, so I’m wondering exactly how that will be achieved.
Overall I’m giving this book 3 ½ shining stars!