Cinder by Marissa Meyer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a 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.
Cinder is the first book in the Lunar Series, and very unique sci-fi take on the Cinderella fairytale it is too. This retelling finds us in New Beijing, a city besieged by a plague rather than a beautiful fairytale kingdom. Cinder (aka Lihn Mae Cinder) no longer wears rags, instead as a result of a tragic accident when she was very young she is a cyborg who does her best to hide the fact that she’s cyborg.
When Prince Kai eventually seeks out the best android mechanic in New Beijing, he is directed to Cinder’s shop/booth (which is it, it’s referred to as both) and their attraction begins and it’s not long before he invites Cinder to “the ball” (each Cinderella tale must have its ball!) and of course, she declines his repeated invitations…until the time comes when she knows she has to go to keep him from making a horrible mistake and everything begins to fall apart.
As with all Cinderella stories this one also has the requisite evil stepmother and stepsisters, although at least one of the stepsisters does befriend Cinder, so she’s not all bad and instead of mice who turn into beautiful white horses she has Iko, her android, and of course her fairy God Doctor. So, all the components are there for the story, it just seems to go a bit awry for me. Let me explain why I only give it three stars.
Cinder has a really great premise, the idea is a really solid one and I get frustrated when a story that has such potential becomes a chore for me to read. I find myself going back to something I gripe about all too often in stories that fall flat for me. Well, to be honest I can’t say this fell totally flat, I am giving it a three star rating, I did like things about it, it’s just thing things I didn’t like really bothered me.
Where it went wrong, where it often goes wrong for me in stories is when there is a distinct lack of description. We have a good story concept in Cinder, the plot components are solid ones, although they could be fleshed-out a bit more. What I don’t have is any idea of what anything looks like in this futuristic re-telling. There’s no description of buildings, shops/booths, palaces, labs, hovercraft/transportation…just references to them.
The same applies to the characters and population in general surrounding them. I find myself assuming by the names of the characters and the location that the people there probably look Asian but that’s just a guess on my part based on a few references to hair and clothing. Since I bring this up I also have to mention that the characters themselves are very one-dimensional. There’s no personality infused into them for me to connect with. So when it comes to the story I really have absolutely no idea why Prince Kai is attracted to Cinder at all, it’s just something we as readers are expected to simply go along with….and I don’t like that. I need something more compelling to believe.
I want to make sure that I am clear here; I’m not saying that this is a bad story, it just feels like an incomplete work to me and that has nothing to do with the fact that it’s the first book in the Lunar Chronicles.
I would love to hear the opinions of others who have read this as well so feel free to comment!