Monday, February 10, 2014

The Lunar Chronicles: Cinder

Title: Cinder

Series: The Lunar Chronicles

Year: 2012

Author: Marissa Meyer

Summary: 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. (from Goodreads)

Main Characters:
Linh Cinder
Prince Kaito
Linh Peony
Linh Adri
Dr. Dmitri Erland

Review: When I first heard of this book, my reaction was pretty much summed up in one word: Really? Cinderella as a cyborg? Some space-y story set years into the future? Science fiction had never been a favorite genre of mine, and this book seemed too out-there for me to bother with it. However, friends of mine read Cinder and I found their reviews favorable, so I'd thought I'd give it a try.

First off, Marissa Meyer writes in a easy-to-read style, and while that's usually not a favorite of mine, it helped to keep the action flowing along and suck the reader into the plot. I was able to predict a lot of the stuff that happened, yet there was still a great deal of suspense and mystery that made me unable to put the book down. The familiar tale of Cinderella was excellently woven into the plot, beginning with a feeling of redundancy but ending with unique twists, and the science fiction aspect added nicely to the story. For me, it was like reading fairy tales mixed with Star Wars. The well-formed characters, mystery, and action were all a plus, in my opinion.

Cinder was a very nice heroine, and you can't help but sympathize with her struggles. She shares a good relationship with a android named Iko (who may or may not have a faulty personality chip - rather humorous) and her younger stepsister Peony. Her stepmother and elder stepsister act just as you would expect, yet they were mild villains compared to the lunar queen. Prince Kai, the young son of the deathly ill emperor, I found to be a slightly naive royal, but in his position, that's exactly what you'd expect. 

There is what one might call a "magical" aspect about this story, but in truth it's simply natural talent. The people of the moon (known as lunars) have the ability to push thoughts and ideas into others' minds. They use this ability to manipulate circumstances and people to get what they want, sometimes for evil purposes. Mirrors, however, cannot be manipulated, so the lunar people bear a hatred for reflective objects. 

I will warn you: this story is vastly different from most fairy tale retellings as it does not have a happily ever after; it is the first in a series. The ending is a smash-bang cliffhanger, leaving you wanting the second novel desperately. The second, Scarlet, is a retelling of Red Riding Hood, which leads up to the third, Cress, a Rapunzel retelling, and the fourth and last installment of this series is expected to be published in 2015 - Winter, based on Snow White.

Advisory: Seeing as this is a futuristic novel, there is a lot of action as well as some blood, though not too terribly graphic. A few times Cinder and other characters use swear words - very disappointing - and there is some light romance leading to a kiss. Also, there are what I'd dub "adult comments" in the book that brush against some touchy issues, and while they don't go into any detailed descriptions, it was a letdown to see them in the book as the story would have been just fine, as well as a lot cleaner, without them there. For all of that, I'd recommend this book to readers over 14 years old.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Click here to buy Cinder on Amazon!

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