Book Review: Cinder

Cinder, Marissa Meyer (Square Fish, 2012, The Lunar Chronicles)

A cyborg foot, with metal in place of bones faint behind the skin, and a red high-heeled shoe

Cover art, Cinder

390 pp. At the time of this review (9/17/18), the book holds a 4.6-star review on Amazon with 3,302 Reviews. Current prints include bonus material—Q&A with the author, Short story “Glitches,” and a teaser chapter for Scarlet.

Science Fiction

Book Obtained By: I bought it after a writer friend recommended it.

My Chocolate Rating on Scale of 5: 4.5 Ghirardelli Salty Caramels (just shy of perfection)

From the back cover

“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. . . .

Sixteen-year-old Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past and is reviled by her stepmother. 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. Because there is something unusual about Cinder, something that others would kill for.”

Spoiler-Free Review

Cinder, Marissa Meyer (Square Fish, 2012, The Lunar Chronicles)

Marissa Meyer’s debut, Cinder, is a deliciously wonderful mashup of sci-fi meets fairytale. It put her on the New York Times Bestseller list. Given that Cinder’s a cyborg, I knew at some point she wouldn’t lose a shoe—she’d have to lose the whole foot. I expected, as a Cinderella story, the big points Meyer had to hit, like Cinderella having no suitable dress for the ball, which she would attend even though her stepmother kept her from it. However, the path that Meyer took to get to those points surprised me every time.

Told from multiple points of view, usually Cinder and Kai, the story hums along like a machine tended by Cinder herself. Full of spunk and longing, Cinder struggles to form a better life for herself. Her younger step-sister, Peony, and her faithful android sidekick, Iko, give her the strength to fight no matter how unfair the odds. Details lock me into Cinder being a cyborg, like this: “Red light pierced her eyelids. Going haywire, her retina display was sending a skein of green gibberish against the backdrop of her lids” (p.121).

Prince Kai, destined to rule, starts out as the flesh and bone reluctant ruler. His daily life stands in stark contrast to Cinder’s. I loved the scenes with him going about his life; his conflict; his needs, and what event caused him to meet Cinder. Meyer escalates the drama because of what’s going on in the royal family.

Meyers builds the new society of the earth, after the Fourth World War, I think it was, and she places Cinder in an Asian nation. The ruler of Luna, Queen Levana, wants to rule Earth as well. Given that Lunars have the power to manipulate humans’ bioelectricity, she and her people have an unfair advantage over Eartherns. That, and they are immune to the plague decimating the earth. The worst of the Lunars, the thaumaturges, mercilessly control Eartherns actions, whether it’s forcing them to harm themselves, or to perceive Lunars as immensely beautiful. Details that Meyers adds, like Lunars and mirrors, prepares the way for another book in the series (Winter).

Because I’ve fallen so far behind in my reviews, I can’t give my usual depth of review. I can say that Meyer built a rich worldfrom her descriptions of where Cinder works, lives, seeks her escapethe world feels futuristic. She works in backstory to help us understand the conflicts, and that peace reigns despite the risk of the Lunars.

The book hooked me from the start and didn’t let go. I cheered for Cinder, I cried for her, and I yelled at her step-mother for her behavior. At the book’s ending, Meyer wrapped up the main storyline, but she left plenty of unanswered questions. The next three books, I knew, would continue the story—bringing in more and more fairytales. Although I usually bounce from one series to the next, slowly making my way through a series, I hungered for the “next” installment and read the four books back-to-back. Even so, I’m reserving my score to 4.5 because of the elements that did draw me out of the story, such as the frequent use of a character seeing something, smelling something, hearing something. The filter of those words interrupts the story for me, where the author could have kept me in Cinder’s point of view with a whirr, a corrupted image, and so on.

Stay tuned for my review of the second book, Scarlet, in another few days.


#1 New York Times- and USA Today-Bestseller

About the Author

Learn more about Marissa Meyer at her website.

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