It’s almost impossible to miss, spend 15 minutes on the internet and your sure to bump into some mention or other of Marissa Meyer’s Cinder, a new dystopian novel placing a pot of cyborgs, magical powers and evil stepmothers on the boil.
Cinder is the debut novel of New York Times bestselling author Marissa Meyer . The story is loosely based on the classic fairytale “Cinderella”. Though Cinder is aimed squarley at a young adult/scifi audience, it’s a surprising good read for those of us who have managed to grow facial hair. Cinder was selected as one of IndieBound’s Kids’ Next List for winter 2012.
Critical reception to Cinder has been mostly positive, with the Los Angeles Times calling the book “refreshing” and praising the character of Cinder.
“Similar to Luke Skywalker, Cinder doesn’t know a lot about her past. In fact, she can’t recall anything before age 11, when she was in a hovercraft accident that killed her parents and catapulted her through the windshield. If 32.6% of her human parts hadn’t been swapped for robotics, she would have died.” wrote Susan Carpenter of the LA Times
Publishers Weekly also positively reviewed the book, saying that the characters “easy to get invested in… Cinder retains just enough of the original that readers will enjoy spotting the subtle similarities. But debut author Meyer’s brilliance is in sending the story into an entirely new, utterly thrilling dimension.“
The Wall Street Journal wrote that the book was an “There is great sport to be had in transporting an old story to a new setting, and Marissa Meyer seems to have enjoyed every bit of the conceit in Cinder“.
“This being the first volume in a planned quartet for readers ages 12 and up, the plot contains elements for future expansion, including a vile lunar queen whose armies stand ready to conquer Earth if Kai refuses her and exciting last-minute revelations about Cinder’s true identity. It all makes for an undemanding and surprisingly good-natured read, given “Cinder’s” bleak and turbulent setting.” wrote WSJs Meghan Cox Gurdon
CINDER, a gifted mechanic in New Beijing, a cyborg. Reviled by her stepmother, blamed for her stepsister’s sudden illness. When her life becomes entwined with the überhandsome Prince, she finds herself at the centre of a violent struggle between the desires of an evil queen and dangerous temptations.
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.
This book really appealed to me, a cyborg version of Cinderella? Well maybe this could be a version of the fairy story that I could love, I’m afraid the Disney version would come really low on my list of their film adaptations. The book is divided into four sections which are each divided into chapters, I sat down to read just the first chapter and ended up getting to the end of the first section without even thinking about what else I should be doing, and soon carried on to finish the whole book.
The danger with a retelling of a story as familiar as Cinderella is that the reader is not surprised by the book, and that the plot just plays out as expected. I was really pleased that this wasn’t the case, whilst the story is essentially the one we’re all familiar with there were plenty of twists and turns and tweaks to keep the interest right the way through. I absolutely loved the way the Cinderella story was transported into a future version of Earth complete with cyborgs, AI lifeforms and hover transport. The world that Meyer created was vivid, I found it really easy to imagine. The opening chapters are set in a market place, I really got the sense of this noisy, bustling place.
Cinder is a pretty great character, I liked the fact she was practical and smart, and as in control of her own life as she could be. Her relationship with her younger step-sister Pearl was lovely, and I adored the friendship between Cinder and her very wonderful robot Iko. I also loved Prince Kai, whilst he was most definitely a Prince Charming he was also an interesting, engaging character with depth. Both Cinder’s stepmother and the ruler of the Lunar empire make for excellent villainous characters, I do love good bad guys!
By the time I got to the end of the book I was desperate to carry on with the story. Alas it is a whole year before the next book in this series, and based on what I’ve read about the Lunar Chronicles series it seems that each book is going to feature a different fairy tale heroine so I’m not sure how much more of Cinder we’re going to get to see. I’m quite prepared to wait and see how the series plays out though, I have a feeling it’s going to be good.
Meyer has stated that there will be four books in The Lunar Chronicles, with the following books focusing on Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, and Snow White.
Meyer has also confirmed that there has been interest in a movie adaptation of Cinder and is currently shopping the film rights.
Cinder: Book One in the Lunar Chronicles