Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: January 3rd 2012
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Dystopian, Fairytale Retelling
Audio: 10h 8m
Narrator: Rebecca Soler
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.
My First Thoughts:
I’ve heard a lot of good things about this book and I’m honestly curious. Also, while I was looking at reviews for Spinning Starlight (which I absolutely loved) I found that quite a few people accused that novel as being a copy of Cinder. I really wanted to find out for myself, see if their claims were true or not, and I enjoy listening to audiobooks, even when I’m not driving so I thought this would be interesting.
If I gave you a breakdown of this story I would reveal way too much and spoil the whole book. I can’t even say much about the characters in general without giving away something….
A part of me really wants to stop picking up widely popular novels, but that would be wrong because there are novels out there that actually deserve their praise. I’m not saying that Cinder didn’t deserve the praise it got, just no all of it. While listening to the book I was constantly hit with the thought of ‘wow, this is definitely a first time author!’ After doing some research I found that I was absolutely right, Cinder was Meyer’s first novel and boy did it sound like it too.
First, I would like to say that no, this book is nothing like Stitching Snow. Why?
- Stitching Snow is a Snow White retelling while Cinder is a Cinderella retelling.
- More than one female character of all time can be a kickass mechanic.
- They aren’t even the same subclass of Science Fiction
- Their journeys are nowhere close to each other.
- Their characters are vastly different.
- (Completely my opinion) Stitching Snow is the better debut novel…just saying!
Anyways, now that that is out of the way. While the story wasn’t fantastic, it was still mostly enjoyable to read. If you hadn’t guessed from the book cover or the title, this was a fairytale retelling of Cinderella. I haven’t read a lot of retellings of that story, but this honestly didn’t strike me as super impressive.
Cinder was an enjoyable character to follow, I was a little disappointed that the author pretty much made her appearance to be pretty blank, as in letting the readers design her as they pleased. Which is fine, but can often lead to confusion. For instance, I heard that she was an Asian character and expected her to look it. However, upon getting into the actual story you find out that that’s not exactly the case. Cinder had a very Asian-esc name but she was not born in Asia, therefore there was no real evidence to lead to her being Asian, other than her name and where she lived. Which was a little unsettling, though not really a mark against the author. I did enjoy her being cyborg, which I haven’t really seen much in YA. I saw a lot of people complain that she was too human, which made me laugh because theoretically anyone with a paste-maker is a cyborg because they have inorganic/man-made material helping them live, but that’s a different topic for discussion. I actually found her cybernetic aspects to be quite interesting, especially how she used them in her daily life and how they affected her wellbeing. Cinder’s cyborg features were my favorite parts about her because I can’t really say much about her character. Sure she was a strong female character, who was very much out for herself only, and was done with how she was being treated. However, she didn’t really have any defining character traits, she just appeared to be a very classic YA heroine, very much from the cookie-cutter. She may get better as the series goes, but for her debut she fell a little short.
As for the other characters, there’s not much I can say about them. Prince Kai is very much a ‘Disney Princes’-like character with very few flaws other than being completely and utterly naïve. He’s not a terrible character, I enjoyed the parts of the story that he appeared in, but again cookie cutter. The step sisters were fine, only one of them was evil to Cinder but the one who wasn’t didn’t really do much to help Cinder…at all, but don’t worry because the step-mother made up for it. The step-mother was a work of art, in the bad way, constantly using Cinder as her scapegoat and not seeing any sort of reason, only hatred for someone who couldn’t help who she was. But, she wasn’t the evilest, no that medal goes to Queen Levana. While Queen Levana was a very stereotypical sick and twisted villain, I actually enjoyed how cruel she was to people and the means she took to get what she wanted. Her character was actually more enjoyable than most.
Out of all the characters, my favorite would have to be Iko. She was an adorable little android with more personality than everyone combined, except for maybe one other character. It may be possible that my opinion is skewed because I really enjoyed how the narrator portrayed her. However, she is definitely one of the more memorable characters and I loved every scene that she was in.
As for the story itself, it was pretty enjoyable. The world building was pretty neat, though I wish the Meyer did more of it in the first book. Hopefully, this futuristic dystopian Earth will be better explored in the next installment. While the story ran smoothly, for the most part, there were parts in the book that could have been devoted elsewhere. Basically, there were scenes that were meant to show character development and/or traits, but instead beat a dead cow with things the reader already knew or didn’t need any elaboration on. Instead, those scenes should have been replaced with scenes that showed the reader more of why there was an attraction between Cinder and Kia.
Speaking of romance, it was pretty dry. Sure there were parts of ‘aaaaawwwwww!’ but they were very few, and the romance just felt very Disney or movie-esc where after a few encounters the audience was supposed to believe that there was a valid attraction. But I ask, where was it? I honestly don’t see how Kia was smitten by Cinder or how Cinder liked Kia. Sure, he was very princely and charming and she was different than what he was used to and not fawning over him, but there has to be more to win someone over and I just never saw it! I take my romance very seriously, most of the time.
And while I enjoyed the Cinderella themes, they made the book very predictable. That was the worst part about reading, not once, did this story surprise me. I was able to guess every twist and every turn, usually chapters before they happened. That doesn’t make the writing terrible, it’s just something that Meyer needs to work on. Yes, I believe in leaving little hints for the reader to guess at the bigger picture, but most of the time Meyer was too obvious. Within the first chapter or so I knew where the story was heading, and about a third of the way I was able to guess the major reveals at the end of the book. Maybe I’m more perceptive than most. Maybe I’ve read too many books or written too many stories myself, making it easier for me to pick up on all the signs and writing on the wall. Either way, the predictability of the book made it less enjoyable than it could’ve been.
If you enjoy cyborgs and androids in a futuristic, mildly dystopian setting than you would enjoy Cinder. If you thought that Disney’s Cinderella always needed a metal foot rather than glass slippers, or a cute little android friend rather than little animals, then look no further! Or if you’re looking for a little dash of Asian to sprinkle onto your reading list, this may be it. While it doesn’t explore Asian culture in depth, it does provide an interesting innovated setting, mixing both new technology with old architecture, style, and customs.
However, if you aren’t interested in science-fiction or retellings of fairytales, than don’t even try. If you tend to be perceptive, and hate the predictability of a book, than you have been warned and read at your own risk!
With everything said, I found this story to be average and a modest attempt for a writer’s first novel. Meyer made a lot of rookie mistakes, but with practice and time I’m sure she’ll be a wonderful author. The story kept me intrigued enough that I want to continue the series just to see how things play out in the other novels, and to see how Meyer has grown since 2012.
I really enjoyed Rebecca Soler’s narration, she definitely made my drive back to school more enjoyable. I also loved how she portrayed Iko, I cannot stress that enough and I hope to hear more from her in the future!