Cinder (Lunar Chronicles 1) Marissa Mayer
Published by MacMillan Children
3.5 out of 5 stars
Format: Kindle book (also available in paperback and audio – here)
Another day, another series that I’ve been told I’ve got to read. I’ve concluded that I’m not a normal reader, as I rarely like the hyped books, and love those that most dislike. But I hope thats what makes me a successful reviewer, the fact that I offer a different opinion, and not just to be different, but because I honestly feel that way. Fairytale retellings can go really right or terribly wrong, I’ve yet to find a mid-point one, and I love Jackson Pearce so Cinder had a lot to live up to.
Cinder (retelling of Cinderella, obviously) is set in the future, in New Beijing. The world has been at war several times and now is at peace on earth but there are tensions with the ‘moon people’ the Lunars, a race that have evolved to use glamours and mind-controlling type powers. Technology has developed and humans live alongside robots and cyborgs (half and half), although there is a big divide between humans and cyborgs. Cinder is a cyborg mechanic, she lives with her guardian and her daughters, after having been taken into the care of the guardian’s husband who died soon after making her promise to look after Cinder. There are two main arcs to the story – one is the spread of a plague (I can’t spell it, so am not even going to try), which is deadly and incurable, and the other is Cinders relationship with the prince, Kai. Kai meets Cinder when he’s looking for a mechanic for his android, and has no idea she’s a cyborg, he’s intrigued by her, and when they keep meeting by chance he starts to fall for her, but obviously Cinder is having none of it – she knows that if he knew she was a cyborg then he’d turn away in disgust, but she can’t deny that she’s got feelings for him too. In-between all this Cinder’s step-sister Peony gets sick, unlike the fairytale, Cinder and Peony get on (its the other sister thats awful to her) and Cinder’s guardian sends her off to be used in testing for a cure, Cinder soon finds out that there is far more to her than just an orphan who is part cyborg, and the more she discovers the more dangerous it becomes for her, the prince and the people of Earth.
I liked the thought behind Cinder, I am not sure why there was a need to bring the fairytale into it, the story stands up on its own, and it really doesn’t follow the old tale all that much, the basis is there, but it could of easily been a stand alone tale and still be a good story. There were a lot of twists and pace changes, most of which you could see coming miles ahead, in fact there were many times where you felt like slapping Cinder for being so blind. Where the book failed for me was a lacking of magic, not the sparkly fairy dust type, but the type that make a story stick with you. If you are going to retell a classic story, then you need to use that story to make yours better, but I felt that Cinder used Cinderella to lean on, rather than build on.
I also disliked the cyborg attitudes in the book, these are people that have had prosthetics or electronics attached to save their lives or limbs etc – and yet in the book they are seen as sub-class citizens, in an almost racist way – they are sent for testing against their will for goodness sakes! I know it may just of been Mayer’s attempt at building an imperfect world, but I felt it was more that it wasn’t thought through properly, I mean if they are looked upon that badly, why would anyone get any cyborg parts done? Would you throw your daughter out because she needed a cyborg heart to survive? No, I doubt you would, but in the book – thats the attitude they have.
I liked Kai and he really was a saviour for the book, he was a caring, thoughtful prince and a genuinely nice guy – but he has his flaws and his last few pages were brilliant, I love the fact that we don’t know how he feels about all the revelations (No I’m not going to spoil them) and the twists that have been happening. I hope to see more of him in future books. Yes I would read further books in the series, I enjoyed Cinder, but as I said before, felt it would of been better as standalone story, rather than a fairytale retelling.