Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

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.

The problem with fairytale retellings is that they’re really predictable. We already know the story, so the element of suspense isn’t really there. That coloured my opinion of this book, but really, it’s going to be a problem no matter what the author does. I think this book could have been improved by losing the retelling aspect, because the idea could have stood on its own, as it’s a really original premise.

I read this super quickly. It only took me an evening, but I couldn’t put it down, even though I had stuff I had to be reading instead, because I had a big meeting with my supervisor… so of course, I picked this up instead.

I liked Cinder quite a lot. She’s a fun character, who was quite spunky but also fragile. She had quite a non-traditional occupation (mechanic), which fitted well with the whole Cinderella thing. My heart broke for her several times… she had such a cruel life. I wish we’d got more of the whole fairy godmother, Cinderella makeover thing, because that’s always my favourite part! She did do some really stupid things, but who wouldn’t in her situation?

I couldn’t actually picture what Cinder looks like… I don’t know if anyone else had that problem, but where I could imagine everyone else in the story, Cinder was kind of a blank, faceless thing. It’s really unusual to not be able to actually picture a main character, even if they’re not exactly what they were described as… Weird. It didn’t put me off a huge amount, but it’s a weird thing.

I really didn’t feel the romance with Kai though. I liked him, he was pretty cool and quite well drawn, but I just wasn’t convinced about the romance side or his ability to be an Emperor… I kind of felt like they should just have been friends and bucked the whole fairytale thing, but of course, that’s never going to happen with a fairytale retelling.

It kind of bugs me that when an author wants their (usually female) character to be “non-traditional” or challenge the status quo, they stick them in a job like being an engineer or a mechanic. As if girls can’t be a teacher or a nurse without challenging anything! Of course, if they have a male in a non-traditional occupation, like say… a dressmaker, he’s always gay. Ditto the female mechanic is usually a lesbian (though in this case she isn’t). Like people can’t possibly just do a job they like, like normal humans in real life! *rant complete*

I felt like Queen Levana was a cardboard cutout villain… wasn’t really convinced by her. Maybe she’ll become more of a legitimate threat in the next few books, but in this she just didn’t really feel like much at all. She seemed to just stand there and make threats and just be evil in general, but not much more. The evil stepmother, Adri, was far more compelling and horrible. I really wanted her to be defeated and turned into a lily pad.

Another little issue for me is that I didn’t look ahead to see what the rest of the series is based on, but I’ve already worked out what happens and who is doing what. It really doesn’t make me too enthusiastic to carry on! I’ve heard really good things about the third book, Cress, which I may read at some point since this was fun… but I’ve already worked out who she is. The element of mystery isn’t there, which kind of bothers me. I also worked out the plot twist really, really quickly… like a couple of chapters in quickly.

Some aspects which should have been explained further just weren’t…. like why are cyborgs treated like second class citizens?! We’re told over and over again that Cinder is Adri’s property, that she can’t buy things from certain shops and that cyborgs are generally treated like dirt… but why? It’s never explained. Why is it “New Beijing”? What happened to the old city? Was it the war? You wouldn’t even know this is set in China, other than Kai being an Emperor and a brief mention of Chinese foods.

I really don’t think this busted too many stereotypes at all, which it could have done, but I think the author was limited by the process of retelling the fairytale. Cinderella in particular has been done SO MANY different ways before. This is definitely different to any other retelling I’ve seen, I will give it that. The cover was pretty funky too, though I wasn’t too crash hot on the font they used, but meh… not a huge deal.

Cinder was definitely a fun evening’s entertainment and a good fluffy YA novel, but I think it has so much more potential. Perhaps that potential is realised further into the series, which I’ll probably read at some point. There’s a few major plot holes but I kind of forgave them since it’s just a YA book and not some kind of great work of fiction, but they were pretty glaring. If you go into it just wanting something escapist, it’s fine and will truly serve that purpose… but I don’t think it’s much more than that. If I was 10 years younger I would have been all over this like a rash!

3 Stars

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5 thoughts on “Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

  1. I really liked your review and I completely agree. If I was younger and haven’t read so many good books then probably I would have enjoyed it better. But now, I’m not really impressed with the plot and when I started reading it I dropped it cause I find it too mediocre. Maybe it wasn’t for me. I will give it a second chance though.
    Great review, have a nice weekend:) x

  2. Ha, this was a brilliantly entertaining review! And the gifs were so perfect. I haven’t read this book but I’ve considered picking it up for a while with all the hype. I keep yo-yo-ing back and forth because I’m not totally sold on the fairy-tale retelling thing, but at the same time I would like to give it a chance. You never know until you try right?! 🙂

    P.S. Hope the supervisor meeting turned out okay!

    • I did have a great meeting, thank you for asking 🙂 I managed to get most of the reading done in time!

      It’s such a popular book, so many people love it, so if you want to read it then there’s no reason not to… I just think it’s been overhyped for the quality of the literature. There’s better YA out there, better fairytale retellings.
      Maybe borrow it from the library? I ended up getting my copy quite cheaply but I’ve passed it on, there was no reason to hang onto it.

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