BOOK REVIEW: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

18 August 2015

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1)
by Marissa Meyer (Goodreads, Twitter, Website)
Published by Square Fish on January 8th, 2013
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Dystopia, Retelling
Format: Paperback (387 pages)
Source: Purchased
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | National Book Store

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.

It's such a shame I ignored this book the first time I saw it in stores years ago. Ridiculous enough, I was in the supernatural phase and for someone who actually fancies retellings, I just can't believe how I thought this book wasn't worth my money and picked up the House of Night books instead (which I incredibly regret). And as of today, I'm biting the inside of my cheek for underestimating this novel--not only did I assume this novel wasn't worth my time, I also thought to put it down for a good two months and prioritize review copies instead when I had the chance to pick it up. Pretty much, I do deserve to stand in the corner and wear the hat of shame. Hah!

This novel [Cinder] is not like any other. Although Betsy Cornwell's upcoming retelling novel, Mechanica, has a similar concept of heroine being a mechanic; Marissa Meyer's dystopic sci-fi Cinderella based novel set in New Beijing takes a futuristic turn with the addition of androids and cyborgs which gives it a unique twist--absolutely nothing I've ever come across before. Parallel to the original fairytale, [Cinder] includes the mistreated underdog heroine, horrible stepmother and step siblings (although contrary to popular belief, one of her sisters was actually a nice person), a prince charming and a ball. No fairy godmother this time, though, but rather an evil queen from the moon with the power to brainwash, and a deadly contagious illness slowly eating up the population.

Meyer's Cinder is a very intriguing character. She's strong willed, at the same time, exudes a vulnerability of being one that longs to belong. Also a selfless character, she would do anything for the ones she love, despite living an unfair life. On the other hand, Prince Kai definitely charmed me. For a young man to experience a tragic situation then suddenly faced with a prodigious responsibility in a matter of minutes makes him such a strong character. And not only that, boy, did he swoon me with his tricks in trying to get Cinder's attention.

Although the first few pages were quite dull because of the slow pacing, it gets better. Meyer plants plot twists in the novel like a land mine awaiting a victim to get caught up in the explosion. This probably isn't the best novel in the series, as I've heard from readers whom preferred the next books, but I did love a lot of things from this novel, plus the fact that it's set in Asia (we don't get much of that around books by western authors now, do we?)

As a non-regular fantasy reader, Cinder changed my viewpoint towards the young adult fantasy genre. As my previous experience with the genre was not at all worthwhile, this [Cinder] sure rectified that. Meyer's fascinating retelling had me turning page after page, despite the slightly predictable scenarios which seemed to be intentional, still had me in shock with the numerous plot twists that kept popping out of nowhere.

Should you be a reader trying to dip your feet into the fantasy genre, this is a fantastic first pick. Meyer does not disappoint and Cinder will surely amuse you, and make you want more--and also because there is a mild cliffhanger waiting for you at the end. Hah!