Sunday, June 30, 2013

Review of Cinder by Marissa Meyer - Or, This Girl Knows How to Fracture a Fairytale

Cinder by Marissa Meyer is one of those books that has been staring at me accusingly from the YA section of the library for a few months now. And I finally borrowed and read it this week, so the accusing eyes can STOP NOW, okay.

Cover lust to the max
 Overall I found Cinder to be an ambitious and enjoyable debut novel from Meyer, largely because she is world-building. For those of you who haven’t read it yet, Cinder is a sci-fi adaptation of Cinderella set in the future (= mind blown). The inside front cover confidently announces three more novels in the next three years, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter, set in this same universe. So there is of necessity lots of expository ground to cover, and although the reader is given a TON of information in a short span of pages, Meyer handles it pretty gracefully.

Linh Cinder is a cyborg (part-human, part-machine) living in New Beijing, the capital of the Eastern Commonwealth, some time after World War IV. Cinder has been left to the care of her adoptive father’s wife after his death and supports her family financially through her work as a well-known mechanic, a skill set she has had to learn in order to do maintenance on her own body. A mysterious plague is ravaging the country, and after the disease strikes her family, Cinder’s stepmother spitefully sends her away to the palace labs to be a research subject to find a cure – which in reality is usually a death sentence. But there, Cinder learns more about her own mysterious childhood and grows closer to the young Prince Kai… and the story takes off from there.

Whew. It’s quite a lot to take in. But I really enjoyed being swept along for the ride; toward the end, I had a hard time putting this book down. Like, bring-it-in-the-bathroom-when-you-pee can’t-put-down. In spite of the fact that I knew generally where the plot was going, Meyer’s dystopian interpretation of the Cinderella fairytale did find ways to surprise me. For instance, I loved the fact that Meyer set the novel in New Beijing. Between Cinder and Daughter of Smoke and Bone, I hope we are starting to see YA publishers realize that readers will still like books that aren’t set in the U.S. with an all-white cast of characters. 

I also appreciated a more fully realized “Prince Charming” character in Kai. He is passionate and flawed in that he can sometimes be too outspoken and brash in defense of what he believes. That’s certainly a pretty big improvement from this guy, who is basically a cardboard cutout (thanks, Disney). And of course, Cinder herself as a smart, talented cyborg mechanic really can’t be beat if you are at all a sci-fi fan. (Plus it lends itself to some pretty awesome fanart.)

I know some readers have taken issue with the unexpected cliffhanger ending. I won’t spoil anything here, but I will say that I actually appreciated Meyer’s willingness to play with reader expectations, especially given that her source material is so familiar. 

I will definitely be going back to the library to check out Scarlet, the next book in the series, this week. No accusing eyes from that one, thank you very much!

(four stars out of five)



Did you read Cinder? Will you be sticking around for Scarlet? What other fairytale adaptations do you love?



  1. I loved Cinder - and Scarlet, too! I think Kai is probably my favorite "Prince Charming" - he was so relatable. (BTW, my favorite Disney one is Prince Philip from Sleeping Beauty.)

    Scarlet threw me off at first by not having Cinder anywhere in sight, but once she showed up the book just took off. And the Wolf in it is a REALLY conflicted character. I hope you like it as much as I did.

    I can hardly wait for Cress in January.

    Erin @ YA Book Crush

    1. Ooh. Generally I LOVE conflicted characters named Wolf (did you ever see the made for TV movie 10th Kingdom??). I didn't realize Cress was coming out in 6 months - she must be a super fast writer! Glad to hear you loved Scarlet as much as Cinder - I can't wait to dive into it.

      And I totally get your love of Prince Philip. He has a great singing voice AND he's got that jaunty little hat.


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