I heard a lot about Cinder by Marissa Meyer in the blogosphere and how much people enjoyed reading it. I finally got around to reading it after failing to pick up the print copy at the library–thank God for Overdrive, which caters very well to my digital-oriented self. I have to say that I did enjoy it but I thought it would live up to its hype more.
I had pretty high expectations for this book, mostly because everyone who had read Cinder had good things to say about it. There were a few things that made me unsure about it though: the slow beginning, the writing style and the lack of context.
The story beings with Cinder working at her stall, a cyborg mechanic who fixes parts in New Beijing with her android friend, Iko. It’s here that we find out that she lives with her stepmother, Adri and her two stepsisters, Peony and Pearl. It also sets up the story fairly well but a lot of other events transpire before the turning point really happens. I think that the story could have moved a little faster because I started to wonder when the turning point would actually happen.
Meyer’s writing style is engaging and seamless for the most part but I find some of her writing awkward and hard to read, especially the similes she uses. The writing in the beginning of the book seems cluttered with too much detail but the other half of the book is just right with the amount of description used. Maybe I got more used to her style of writing as I progressed through the book but I felt that something was different about the first half of the novel compared to the second half.
There’s also a lack of context to the world and society that Cinder lives in. The calendar year is referred to as 126 T.E. and is never explained. It’s only when I went to Marissa’s author website that I found out that T.E. stands for Third Era, the time after the Fourth World War. I would have also liked to have known more about the setting and city of New Beijing. A lot of the setting was just glossed over and there wasn’t a lot of description about the structure of this society in New Beijing.
Other than that, the premise of the story is really cool. I like that Meyer took the classic fairytale of Cinderella and shaped it into a very futuristic, cutting-edge story. The plot (while predictable at times) is complex with many different layers and subplots. Cinder’s leader, Emperor Kaito of the Eastern Commonwealth is facing political tensions with Queen Levana of Luna (also known as the Moon) while the world is battling a pandemic called leutomosis. Cinder is an orphan with a clouded past and a cruel stepmother, and wants nothing more than to get away from it all. As Cinder finds out more about her past though, the story becomes more multilayered and complicated.
Another element I appreciate is the amount of description and knowledge Meyer put into the parts of the book about machinery, robotics and genetics. The level of detail about Cinder’s work as a mechanic is so convincing I would think that Meyer had personal experience working with or around machinery herself. Her description about androids, medroids and cyborgs is impressive as well, along with the explanation of the fictional disease leutomosis, and how the world uses infection and disease control tactics to cope with it.
I also appreciate Cinder as a protagonist. She’s a bit of a tomboy while being fiercely independent and strong-minded. She endures a lot of hardship and discrimination as a cyborg but still finds the will and determination to change her life. I love to see the development of characters, especially orphans because the stakes are usually higher for them and it’s always satisfying to see an underdog succeed.
While I had mixed feelings about this book, I really did enjoy it and found myself eager to find out how it would end. Quite a few people have mentioned that Cinder reminded them of the anime, Sailor Moon and that it took them back to the nostalgia of their childhood. I did see similarities between Cinder and Sailor Moon, and I found myself experiencing that same nostalgic feeling. I guess it’s really no surprise though, as Marissa Meyer has said she’s a Sailor Moon fan, which is very cool!