Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Book Review: Cinder

Okay, so I know for a lot of people, this should be categorized more as a Flashback Friday entry.  I mean, the book came out over a year ago, and the second one is already here.  Some people may have questioned my sanity when it didn't appear on any of my top five lists last December.  Here's the thing: I've been saving this book for just the right moment.  You know that anticipation when you know something will be good but you want to save it for a rainy day?  That's kind of been my attitude towards Cinder.  I knew from the hype and so many excellent reviews there was a good chance that I would love it, and I absolutely do.  Here's the quick summary.

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.  Quoted from Goodreads

Maybe I'm just coming off the reading high---I did finish it all of five minutes ago---but even then I sometimes had to pause while reading to take in how much fun I was having with this book.

First, it's a scifi retelling of Cinderella. I love fairytale retellings in general, and this is such an excellent take.  The world itself is so developed, it's delicious. I love that Cinder is a cyborg and a mechanic.  I love Earth vs. Lunars, the evil queen (pulling in a bit of Snow White--literally there is a beautiful step-daughter, etc.--oh and I'm pretty sure Rapunzel made an appearance as well), the plague sweeping across the globe, New Beijing and the six different governments of Earth,  and the second class citizenship of the cyborgs. Honestly, the retelling is more frosting on the cake for me.  The story didn't need it, but it sure made it a lot of fun.

Next, she has a real relationship with Prince Charming, aka Kai. I liked watching their different interactions and getting into his head a little bit.  The story is told from Cinder's POV about 80% of the time, but we also get Kai's and even Dr. Erland. I really appreciate that because it lets us see things Cinder never could, so we don't have to learn about key scenes and characters from other people.  Kai experiences the queen's manipulations first hand, early on, instead of making us wait until the end with Cinder.  We get to experience how brutally ruthless she is, and why Kai could consider marrying her despite how awful she is as a person.  It would be much harder to get that if we were just limited to Cinder's POV.

Despite all my ravings about how much I loved this book, I'll be the first to admit it isn't perfect.  All the twists were pretty easy to spot.  I do understand how Cinder didn't get them, but as a reader I saw them coming as soon as the concept was introduced (and that's on a bunch of different levels, starting off with the foot in the first paragraph).  It also didn't help that we basically knew the story plot from the beginning.  I mean, it's Cinderella, which sort of lets you know where things are heading.  Plus, I had a hard time buying why Cinder's step-mother was so beastly to her.  I get turning her into a slave--she was their family's only source of income--but selling her off, all the purposely malicious things she did?  Yeah, it seemed a bit over the top to me.  There was enough going on without adding that irritating pebble of conflict to the story.

Still, knowing that it isn't perfect, I love it anyway.  It's got everything I want in a book.  Peril, big evil and small evil and natural threat, mistaken identities, hidden motives, smart characters, sacrifice, betrayal, romance, mystery, characters that begin as one thing and reveal they are something else, global impact, and personal tragedy.  So if you haven't read this book, you need to.  Plus, Scarlet is already out so you don't have to wait for the next installment after a horrible cliffhanger.  Granted I haven't read that one (don't worry, it's next on my list), so the ending might be just as bad, but at least you'd be two books into the series.  Anyway, this book is a dazzling 4.5 stars for me.  Now Scarlet, here I come . . .

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