Cinder by Marissa Meyer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I don't read much YA these days. There isn't a reason for that, other than I am not the general target audience for these books. But I've heard a lot of good things about some recent YA, and decided to look at a few.
Cinder is a cyborg, a human with some robot parts. She was injured as a child, and surgeons implanted robotic limbs and some nervous system implants to save her life. The problem is, cyborgs are considered second class citizens by the rest of the human population. Cinder lives in New Beijing with her stepmother and stepsisters, where she is forced to work as a mechanic (which she is very good at) to support her family. There is a plague killing people in this dystopic world, for which there is no cure, as well as the threat of war from the Lunars, a subset of humans living on the moon who have psychic powers. When Prince Kai, heir to the Eastern commonwealth throne, brings a broken droid to Cinder to fix, she becomes involved in plots, both political and personal, and it seems she may hold the key to solving both problems.
*A warning* I try to write these reviews without spoilers, and I don't think anything I am going to say would constitute a major reveal, but there may be a minor thing here or there.
Yes, it is a retelling of the Cinderella story, with a few twists. Without giving too much away,I did figure out one of the main story lines about a third of the way into the book. Not that it was much of a surprise, given the basic premise. Knowing that did not in any way detract from how the story arrived at the conclusion. A few things might be a little predictable or glossed over in explanation, but in general, the story is well told.
World building was a tad lacking. We are given few glimpses into what seemed an intriguing setting. New Beijing was apparently built on the rubble of a destroyed Beijing, and it seems a fascinating city with much to offer. Readers don't get to experience much of it, however.
The characters were mainly well drawn. Cinder is a believable teenager, without too heavy a dose of the angst seen in many teen stories. Prince Kai is, as expected, the handsome hero, but even he has an edge that makes him more than a cookie cutter "Prince Charming." Cinder's step family is about as expected, with the exception of the younger sister, who is here portrayed as sympathising and being friends with Cinder. The queen of the Lunars is cold, calculating, and selfish- the perfect evil queen. Other characters are given enough personality to set them apart from each other. Cinder's droid helper is one of the most likable characters in the book.
Cinder, while not an outstanding book, was an enjoyable read, and a nice take on the classic fairy tale of Cinderella. Even no longer exactly young adults may find it worth a read.
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