Cinder by Marissa Meyer
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Meet Cinder, a cyborg mechanic making a living in the streets of New Beijing. She 'earns' her keep by repairing items, under the eye of her evil stepmother. Cinder is quite used to her stepmother's cruel treatment, but everything changes when Peony, her stepsister, falls to a mysterious illness--and Cinder takes the blame. With the Prince suddenly visiting her shop and mysteries not only concerning her world, but past, she is pulled into a whole different life . . .
At first, Cinder by Marissa Meyer seems to have it all—a retelling of the classic Cinderella as a cyborg mechanic, set in future Beijing, the pretty cover—what more could you ask for?
Two words: world-building.
In every dystopia, creating the world the reader lives is probably one of the most important things to do. Scratch that—the most important thing. Why? For starters, when people want to see the future, they want to see changes from their everyday lives. Explanations are also a must. I mean, I don’t think you’d believe right away that zombies feed on popcorn without any scientific evidence. Unfortunately, when I began settling myself into the 390 pages of Cinder, I found myself not reading the story for the plot and world, but for the characters. A big dystopia no-no.
As an example, one thing that I wanted to see were more Chinese references. It’s a bit of a shame though, since living in a Chinese community, I felt like some of the customs could’ve been easily inserted here and there throughout the story. The only things I saw related to their culture were the emperors, the marketplace, and the names of the characters. I found the emperor part a bit sketchy too, since now, China has become a Communist country. If there was a reason that they reverted back to their old ways, I would’ve wanted to hear it.
It's not only that. Remember what I said about explanations? Yeah, that was my second pet-peeve. Aside from the part when Cinder first meets the doctor and learns about important things, I felt like I wasn’t learning much about the story. Take the Lunars. All I got from them was that they were originally humans from the moon, but over the years, they evolved and gained superpowers, and they’ve turned insane and their goal is to take over the whole Earth.
Yeah, that’s great. Don’t bother to write complex plots. Just fill in the basic information, so that the readers will buy the next book, desperate to find out more. Or at least that’s what will happen in my case.
Meyer does a great job on playing the angles for the characters though,. At once, I support Cinder, love Iko, and sympathize with the struggles of the emperor’s son, Kai. I loathed Cinder’s stepmother, felt the loss of Peony, and get creeped out at the Lunar queen’s actions. Along the way, I at least snickered when the comedic scenes came by (well, Peony’s words did annoy a bit by the end) and adored the romance between Cinder and Kai. Not seeing any ‘omigosh I love you, let’s make out ‘cause our love is forbidden’ kind of jumbo here. Thank God for that.
The Cinderella tale was almost non-existent. While I would've wanted to see more scenarios interpreted, I’m glad that it gave it some sort of twist as opposed to just sticking rigidly to the story. However, it's also a neutral zone for me.
The plot wasn’t exactly riveting to be honest. From the first sixty or so pages, I predicted a couple of things that were going to happen. All of them came true, except for one, which was admittedly a bit far-fetched. Two of them were cliché. I don’t know if this is because I’m used to knowing the ‘twists and turns’ due to my obsession with reading, but they weren’t so hard to guess. For people who love to be puzzled while reading, this book isn’t for you. The science-fiction part was a bit interesting—but not riveting either. The additions like the memory chips and such were okay, but nothing out of the box that made me go, "Wow! This is awesome!"
Overall, although this might be a hit with the mainstream readers, it didn’t work out for me. If the dystopia was built up in this book and the events harder to guess, this might’ve been a three-starred book for me. Since it wasn’t, hence, the score. Nevertheless, if you’re in a bookstore waiting for someone to appear, just sit down and read a copy of Cinder—it’s good for passing time, but not worth buying a hardcover of.
In A Nutshell
Despite the lack of surroundings, I didn't hate Cinder, and I'm sure that others will find this interesting. The main idea and the easy flow of Meyer's writing will keep most people hooked. I guess it just wasn't the right book for me. Two-point-five-stars.
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