Publication Date: January 3, 2012
Type: Hardcover, bought
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.
I'd like to start this review by saying that I'm fairly certain Marissa Meyer is not human.
When I first heard of how she wrote this book (and its sequels), I just sort of sat there. And stared. I tried to understand how this was physically possible. How any human was capable of such a feat.
For those of you who don't know: during the month of November, there is a thing called NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write a 50k book in one month. But Marissa Meyer did far, far more than that. She wrote Cinder . . . and Scarlet . . . and part of Cress . . . in one month.
Now, guys, I've done NaNoWriMo. I wrote a 56k novel in twenty-five days, and it was fucking exhausting. I was terrified I wouldn't make it. To have written a novel of Cinder's length (considerably more than 50k), and it's sequel, and part of a third, is . . . crazy. Impossible. Quite simply, humans are not capable of such a feat, so therefore Marissa Meyer must not be one of us.
The impossibility of its creation aside, Cinder was a really, really fantastic read. It was wonderfully unique; I mean, a cyborg Cinderella in futuristic Beijing? Yes please. I've always been a great fan of fairytale retellings, so seeing the basic concepts of the Cinderella story turned into an amazingly new idea full of cyborgs and and moon people and deadly diseases was really, really exciting. Despite the high predictability--I'd guessed the main twist by about 40 pages in--I still seriously enjoyed seeing how the plot unraveled, and it never once lost my attention.
Plot aside, I really adored Cinder as a character. She was lively, clever, and constantly curious, maintaining a wry sense of humor even in the most desperate of times. It's very rare that an MC never once annoys me throughout an entire book, but while Cinder made some foolish decisions, I never stopped loving her or cheering her on. And that, that is quite a thing to say.
There were a number of other characters that I fell for--Iko, who was unbelievably adorable and wonderful and silly; Prince Kai, who was trying so hard to do the right thing without losing himself, his feelings, or his country; Peony, who was unbelievably endearing and whose situation was unbelievably heartbreaking; even Dr. Erland, with his lies and secrets and good intentions. However, there's one I was a bit disappointed in, and that was the Lunar queen, Queen Levana. While she was decidedly eerie and disturbing in her own way, I just wanted a bit more complexity from her. I wanted to know why she was so completely and utterly mad, why she was willing to waste thousands--if not millions--of lives to further her own purposes. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: villains that I can understand will always be the most terrifying.
In the end, though, what really made this book was not the plot, not the characters, but the writing. Oh, stars, this writing was gorgeous. Absolutely, stunningly, ridiculously gorgeous, and whatever other positive adjectives you think of. I loved it. I loved it, I loved it, I loved it. It was so vividly reminiscent of an actual fairytale that I fell even harder for the Cinderella themes sprinkled throughout the book. Sometimes, I would have to reread a line or a paragraph several times because it was just that fantastic.
Overall, Cinder may not be flawless, but it was a really marvelous debut and I intend to get my hands on a copy of Scarlet as soon as humanly possible. Highly recommended.