Book- Cinder (book #1 of The Lunar Chronicles)
Author- Marissa Meyer
Publisher- Feiwel and Friends
Publication Date- January 3rd, 2012
This book is probably one of my favourites in YA fiction and fantasy. I don’t have the words which accurately describe how much I loved this book! It’s not like it didn’t have flaws, like every other book, it did, but they were completely overshadowed by the brilliant plot, outstanding writing, relatable characters and the great execution. A modern re-telling of the story of Cinderella, the book is based years in the future after the Fourth World War in a plague ridden world.
Cinder, a young cyborg, resides in new Beijing with her despicable step mother Adri, and her two step sisters- horrible Pearl, and adorable Peony. Cinder, like all other cyborgs, is considered less than human and badly treated due to her so called “monstrosities”. But being a cyborg does have its benefits, as Cinder, at the age of sixteen, is the best mechanic in New Beijing. Her reputation attracts even Prince Kai, the young monarch to her booth, asking for a favour, leaving Cinder rather star struck. And in true fairy tale fashion, even Kai begins to fall for her, not knowing she is cyborg. But this isn’t just a cliche love story. At the same time, Letumosis, a deadly disease is running rampant all over the world, and the only way to put a stop to all the deaths is by Prince Kai agreeing to a marriage alliance with the evil, cunning and power hungry Queen of Luna (the moon), Queen Levana. As Cinder’s life somehow gets twisted into this deadly game of politics, secrets are uncovered and identities discovered. What will be the fate of Cinder, Kai, and more importantly, of the entire world?
What I liked:
I. ABSOLUTELY. LOVED. THE. PLOT. Cinderella has always been my favourite fairy tale, and so it made me really happy how Meyer kept the basic storyline (ill-treated Cinder, step mom and step sisters, swoon worthy prince, the shoe left behind) all the same, yet made the story entirely her own. This book wasn’t just written, oh no, it was CRAFTED. The way the classic fairytale has been modernized is amazing. The story feels real, something which I can imagine happening in the future (but I can imagine talking dogs so don’t take my word for it). It isn’t overly complicated either, yet it manages to hook you right from the first chapter. Meyer has clearly put a lot of thought into this book, because it doesn’t feature supernatural creatures like vampires and werewolves, which have become common in books. Instead, it has cyborgs, people from the moon, and your average boring human.
I love that the story is based in New Beijing, and the main characters are Asian. Usually, these books only feature people from America, so it was refreshing to read about characters with a different background.
Meyer’s writing style is very impressive. It’s exactly the right pace, not too fast or slow, and through the book, she manages to make you happy, sad, angry, frustrated, awkward, make you swoon- everything. It’s like experiencing a whirlwind of emotions of which you are at the centre.
Coming to the characters, Cinder is probably one of my favourite YA heroines. Sarcastic, resilient, compassionate, she’s someone who I’d totally want for a best friend. I love how unlike many heroines, she isn’t badass to the level that she fears nothing. She gets confused, and is impulsive which makes her seem real and human. Her sass is on point, it always makes me laugh. I like how even when she was talking to the prince, she is always herself, and sometimes completely defies royal etiquette. She is unapologetically who she is. Another great thing about her was that she never pities herself. No matter how her step mother, and other people treated her for being a cyborg, she never let it break her and never feels bad for herself- she stays awesome and stubborn, and is absolutely clear on her goals and what she wants. God, she’s awesome.
Moving on to Kai, I think I fell in love at first sight, or rather, first read. Kind, friendly, handsome and sassy, he’s the boy from my dreams. Like Cinder, he too is relatable- he gets nervous and frazzled as he should be, he’s going to be crowned the emperor at the age of 19 after all! I love how much he cares for his subjects and how sweet he is to the people who work for him, you can see he genuinely cares and isn’t arrogant or high headed. Grounded, charming, *sighs*, oh I could talk about him forever.
Queen Levana is a great villain. You instantly hate her and want her shredded apart, yet are left curious about her and her kingdom. I adored Iko, even as an android, she is such an entertaining and witty personality. I despised Adri and Pearl, I want them to be thrown to the wolves and maybe even to lions after that. I wont talk about them much or this won’t be a review, it will become a rant and may never stop. I loved Peony, she was adorable and such a sweetheart, what happened to her was a shame.
On to the romance, I really like that it wasn’t a major focus in the story. Many times, the romance ends up over powering the actual book but that didn’t happen here. It was there, it was super cute and swoony and I probably squealed at every Kai and Cinder scene, but it was never what the story revolved around and there was always a lot more happening. It wasn’t insta love either, (thank the stars). Though Cinder was crushing over Kai (who wouldn’t), she avoids him regularly to spare herself and Kai the embarrassment of revealing that she is a cyborg. It’s quite believable and doesn’t seem like a “only happens in book romance”, even though a prince falling for a mechanic is a “only in books” romance.
The ending was rather predictable, you will probably see it coming really early on, but it’s a great way to wrap up the book. It wasn’t a massive cliffhanger but it will definitely leave you itching for the sequel.
What I didn’t like:
I wish there had been more references to the Asian community. Though the book was based in New Beijing, it never really felt like that, I think more cultural references would have made the setting and background seem more real.
I also thought the plot twist was very predictable- it had been obvious miles before it happened. If there had been less clues indicating to it, I might not have guessed it.
But even with this, the book was a fantastic read- not something I’ll get over anytime soon.
I’m going to give this book a 4 on 5. Despite its faults, it was amazing, something I would recommend to all readers. This is one book you don’t want to miss- it’s definitely worth the hype.