Wednesday, 28 November 2012

YA Book Review: 'Cinder' by Marissa Meyer

(The Lunar Chronicles #1)
by Marissa Meyer

Published: 5th January, 2012
Publisher: Puffin
Source: Bought From Amazon
Format: E-Book
Pages: 400

Cover Art

I actually really love this cover. I usually hate shoes on covers but this one has a twist and the title font and image together just scream quirky fairy tale to me. 

Plot Synopsis

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.

My Rating:

First Line:

'The screw through Cinder's ankle had rusted, the engraved cross marks worn to a mangled circle.'

Pocket-Size Review

Possibly the most disappointing book I have read in 2012. I almost hated it. SO MUCH HYPE I DON'T GET IT.

Highs: The concept itself is interesting and the bustling Beijing setting is cool...however Meyer wasted both, in my opinion, with a limp story and dull characters.
Lows: I disliked Cinder and hated the predictability of it all. Also...things don't add up...plot wise...hmm.


Well. To be brutally honest, after reading Cinder I am left wondering how it has managed to garner the huge amount of praise and amazing reviews that it has. A quick look at Goodreads shows that it has an average 4.01 out of 5, and all of my Goodreads friends have rated it a 4 or a 5 star book. I honestly don't understand why; I could not finish it quick enough.

I think the main problem was that Cinder isn't my kind of person/android/person with machinery in her and shit. She is self centered and immature, and unbelievably self-pitying. She is one of those annoying author-worshipped characters who doesn't REALLY have flaws, and is moral and good to the point of disgust and nausea for the reader. She is the kind of girl who will clutch at the hands of people with a plague and be patronising and judgmental to those around her, as though she is the only person in the whole world who has ever suffered. Which is another thing: has she actually suffered that much? She seems to live in a nice apartment with her stepmother and stepsisters, one of whom she gets on with well, and she doesn't seem to particularly despise the other two (she worries about them when she thinks they might be dead.) For me, that is not what Cinderella is about. The suffering and humiliation and loneliness just didn't ring true in Cinder's character, and it just made her seem overindulgent. She acts all hard done by as though she is on the cusp of death at the hands of the evil perpetrators and then she is jealous of her stepsisters' dress. If you are REALLY suffering and desire nothing more than to escape from the hell your family has built around you, I don't think pining for pretty dresses and batting your eyelashes at prince's is going to be first on your list of things to do.

That brings me to my next problem: the relationship between Cinder and Prince Kai. Prince Kai is a naive fool. As I said before, Cinder has that author-worships-character syndrome where she assumes that the reader will automatically trust and love Cinder because she has told us too, rather than Cinder herself making us love and trust her through her actions. In other reviews I have read people have argued vehemently that there is NO insta-love but I kinda felt like it was. The Prince trusts Cinder as soon as he meets her for no particular reason and flirts outrageously with her and confides in her with the monarchy's most dark and sordid secrets as though they've known each other for years. I didn't buy it. I didn't feel real chemistry between them and when Prince Kai declared that he 'needed' Cinder a couple of times after meeting I was ready to slam this book down and never look back. He is another character who is always on his high horse about something or the other, and takes the moral high ground in ever situation. SO DULL. IF I WANTED TO READ ABOUT SAINTS I WOULD READ THE BIBLE.

Another character I didn't understand and didn't like: Iko. It is just me or is it really hypocritical that Cinder hates being a servant for her family yet has a servant of her own? Why did her stepmother get it when she has Cinder? Why does Iko come to market with Cinder when she should be waiting on the family while Cinder is at work? I just didn't understand her role in all of it. I think it was an attempt at cuteness and comic relief that didn't wash with me, as I felt like I was being manipulated into liking something and was suspicious that my heartstrings were being tugged. I will say no more. It all made me feel uncomfortable. Especially when Cinder says that she wants to turn Iko into an escort bot with 'tauntingly ideal feminine curves.' I did not understand.

The world building in this book is lazy. Calling moon people Lunars? Ugh. There is a lot of weird facial reading that only happens in badly written YA such as 'Cinder detected a shadow lingering behind Kai's eyes.' Seriosuly, take a minute and think about that sentence and what it means. IT MEANS NOTHING. The thing that bothered me the most in this book, however, was not the sloppy and obvious world-building or the bad writing: it was the horrible prejudice that Cinder had against the Lunars! Call me weird, but I felt like I was reading something racist. Obviously, Lunars do not exist in the real world, but the mass racial stereotyping that was rife in Cinder's world was never really addressed or defied and came dangerously close to racist fanatics in the real world. Lunars are described in this book as, 'a greedy and violent race' and 'a cruel and savage people who murdered their shell children'. Do they eat their children as well or did you think that might be going a little far? I'm sure it is an issue that will be addressed (and probably righted) in the next book, but it still made this one feel slightly grubby and...not right. The nice Lunars are the EXCEPTION to the general vileness of the race, and most of the Lunars we have seen DO act in a very greedy and violent way. I think the fact that they are constantly described as a 'race' and 'a people' made me feel uncomfortable about the whole thing. Maybe I am just being completely strange but I didn't like it.

Good things: I like the Beijing setting. It was a-bustlin. Also, as Disney films go I am quite partial to a bit of Aladdin from time to time and this book is very similar (as the Cinderella story is in general). Cinder is working in a market, the prince comes along in disguise, she can see the palace from her garage etc etc. It made me watch Aladdin which I enjoyed.

Overall, I couldn't enjoy this book. It was SO predictable and added nothing new to the Cinderella trope except an interesting concept that never found it's own feet (much like Cinder...guffaw). Perhaps I am being exceptionally harsh on it because I am currently reading Shadows on the Moon which is another Cinderella retelling that is just amazing and lovely. Read that instead.

Other Thoughts

This Book has Inspired me to Read: I don't think I'll be reading the sequel. 

Three Words to Describe this Book: Boring, Tedious, Disappointing.

But Don't Take My Word For It...

  • Blog Reviews of  'Cinder': 

'I loved this book! I stayed up most of the night to read it! It wasn’t perfect, of course. There are several things I might have liked to be changed about it but I feel the characterization of the two main protagonists was fantastic. I thoroughly enjoyed the writing style and the story.'

'This is the first book I’ve read this year that I closed and immediately starting bouncing my legs in ancy anticipation for the next installment. '


  1. Wow. Well I guess we can't all like everything! I liked it, too. I didn't think it was the best book of the year or anything...I also didn't take it very seriously. My biggest complaint was that it was far too easy to figure out the big twist in the end. I like it to be something that I have to think really hard to figure out. Thanks for the review!

    Here's my review I did on Cinder several months ago if you want to read it

  2. I have been seeing this darn shoe book everywhere. Cinder. I actually wanted to read it. From all the gushing reviews though, I figured it was probably another fad. Thanks for your honest thoughts on it. I enjoyed the format and style of your review. You're quite frank.

  3. That's too bad that you didn't enjoy this book very much. I quite enjoyed it, but I guess we read it with different expectations.

    If this was a standalone, I would agree with you wholeheartedly on the world-building issues. But this is a series, after all. The limited perception of the Lunars and gaps in world-building didn't really bother me because I'm banking on the fact that these things will have the opportunity to become more fleshed-out over the next three books.

    I understand what you mean about the predicability in the story, but that also didn't bother me. I guess I kind of expected that certain things had to happen a certain way since this is at its core a retelling of a very well-known fairy tale. And I felt like the twists related to Cinder's character may have been obvious to readers, but still were definitely a shock to her just because they're not something expected within the confines of her world.

    I actually own Shadows on the Moon. Haven't read it yet, but I've read my fair share of fairy-tale retellings, and many Cinderella ones specifically. And I do think that this does add a few things to the trope - notably a huge emphasis on morality and humanity.

  4. I'm sorry that this was a complete overhyped failure for you, Anna! I definitely think this is just not going to be the right series for you, and that's okay! I won't push you to read the short story, Glitches, because you wouldn't like it, but it does explain the history/relationship with Iko and Cinder a bit more.

  5. Well, I guess we all have a different taste right :) I'm sorry to hear it didn't work out for you, but I truly loved this book. For me, Cinder was a great character and I totally connected with her. It's a shame that you didn't like it, but you did sound a bit.. harsh. If you don't like a book, that doesn't mean others can't enjoy it :) It just wasn't your thing, but I get the hype around this book - and clearly other bloggers too :p


  6. I've been wanting to read this book for a while especially after hearing so many awesome reviews. Which is why your review is so surprising. Which may be a good thing, since otherwise I would be going into this with awesome expectations, now I least I won't necessarily expect it to be completely amazing and possibly be disappointed.

  7. I had to read this book for summer reading for 10th grade. I liked the book as an easy read but again it was way to predictable and i didn't get a single thing out of it. we were supposed to get something out of these books but i didn't. the lexile for this book is a 790 and that is a 7th grade level reading book. 10th grade level is 905L-1195L. there is a big difference. i also didn't like the point of view that it was told from. it would be better if it was written from the characters point of view. also i felt like at the end everything was just crammed in there and it just didnt make sense to me. it was prolonged way to much to have everything dumped at the end. it was like she was told she had 400 pages to write on and she got to 380 or 390 and realized she hadnt answered questions. i would highly recommend that you read The Book Thief. it was fabulous!!!! i could read it over and over and still love it, and i am a very hard critic when it comes to books so believe me it was awesome!!!!

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  11. Oh thank the lord, I thought I was the only one. It's been almost surreal seeing so many people freaking out over this book, which I couldn't even force myself to finish - it's just so awkward and awful and the characters are so flat. Plus, Kai is horrible. SO horrible. I don't even like Cinder and I started to feel sorry for her for attracting the attention of such a naivë, annoying douche. (Repeatedly pestering her to go to the ball after she says no repeatedly, then stopping her in a hall full of people and asking her again, in front of a crowd, while she's trying to get away? And he only backs off when she's like 'my little sister has the plague' because clearly, if she didn't have a plague-ridden sister her choices would mean nothing? Ugh.)

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