Cinder (Book 1 in The Lunar Chronicles series)
By: Marissa Meyer
Published: January 3, 2012
Company: Feiwel & Friends
This young adult series takes a spin on the classic Cinderella fairy tale in a futuristic dystopian set sometime after World War IV. This book’s heroine is Linh Cinder, a cyborg teen and only full-service mechanic at New Beijing’s weekly market, struggling to live under the roof of her evil step-mother Linh Adri and step-sisters Pearl and Peony. Well, to be fair, Peony is the good step-sister while Pearl is the bad step-sister.
I’m not going to bother to summarize the whole story. If you’ve seriously NEVER heard the story of Cinderella, go look up on Wikipedia.
Don’t worry. We’ll wait for you to catch up.
Now Cinder is based off Cinderella, however Marissa takes her own spin on it, adding new elements to it: such as the outbreak of Letumosis that’s ravaging the Earth, the second class treatment of cyborgs and Androids, an injection of Asian culture (without it being racist or questionable), and political tensions with Luna. It should be worth pointing out that Cinder is NOT white! Yup, that’s right. Our main character is female, cyborg, and of Asian-decent, and the Asian point isn’t hit over the head for the readers. No stereotypes for her (or her step family). Even though I’m white, it’s nice to have a young adult series with a non-white heroine character.
Another thing that I enjoyed while reading this was that Cinder’s character was not being driven by the need to find a boyfriend and/or to fall in love. Nope, not a primary motivator for her. Instead she is motivated at first to escape her step family and discover more about her origins, as she has no memories of her life before becoming a cyborg. All she knows about her previous life is what was told to her. She has no photos of her parents (or names for that matter), no personal mementos from her past life, or even a last name. What’s driving her is self-discovery: who am I, where did I come from, and what can I do with my life. These issues are something anyone can relate to, regardless of age. Yes, Cinder falls in love with a Prince (though that’s another issue all together), but even this doesn’t cause her to deviate from her own path. Even in the second book as her relationship with the Prince progresses, that relationship doesn’t become a higher priority than her self-discovery and this is something I find refreshing.
I very much enjoyed the tone and language of the novel. Despite not being the target audience (a 13 – 15 year old teenager, probably female), I never felt like I was being talked down to or talked at, but rather I was being treated as an equal member of the audience. I suppose we get this from the story from being told from Cinder’s point of view, as opposed to a nameless narrator, but even with Cinder’s sarcastic attitude, we could have had Cinder talking down to the audience about certain aspects of her world that we’re unfamiliar with.
What I wished to read more about in the novel was about the city of New Beijing and this new post-World War VI era. We’re never really told what caused the previous (or even third one) war or the outcomes or how this new world is divided, as we get a small introduction later to the other world political leaders. I’m not sure if this is because we will learn more about this later in the series or if this is something we’re just supposed to fill in on our own, but with this being the first book in the series, I would have liked to have gotten some background information about this.
I found this novel refreshing and quiet enjoyable to read. So much so that I plowed through this and straight on to Book 2, Scarlet, in the same sitting! If you’re concerned about the science fiction element (as some people can find that to be overwhelming at times), it doesn’t delve deep into it as you would in something like Star Trek. The story still takes place on Earth, there is no long sentences of techno-babble, and I suspect the science parts we get is more to sound really cool and interesting and less reality based. Though I say that last point as someone who does not have a science background in any way so I apologize if I’m wrong or offend anyone. Definitely a great read for a teenager just stepping into (junior) high school but can be enjoyed by those who’ve long since left their high school days.
So what do you think about this first book in the series? Agree with me? Disagree? Leave your comments below and I’ll happily respond. Also if you have any suggestions for me for future reviews, leave them in the comments.