Book Review

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

cinder-by-marissa-meyerHumans 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.


Cinder by Marissa Meyer                        My rating: 3/5 Stars

Series: The Lunar Chronicles, #1           Format: Hardcover, 387 pg

Status: Read from March 26 to March 26, 2017


Cinder is a cyborg (a mainly pejorative term for someone with artificial limbs and/or neuro-wiring) who lives in New Beijing in the Eastern Commonwealth.  She had been turned cyborg after a debilitating accident in her childhood left her with no choice.  It also left her with no memories previous to the accident at eleven years of age.  She was orphaned but saved by a kindly man who died soon after the adoption, leaving her with – you guessed it – an evil stepmother and her two daughters.  Now a teenager, Cinder works as a mechanic to help bring money into the family.  Although she’s good at what she does and she enjoys her work, she is nothing more than a slave.

Cyborgs are simply humans with highly sophisticated prosthetics, yet they are not considered as such.  They have to pay for their freedom but even when freed, they are looked down upon as members of a subhuman societal caste.  Cinder makes the most of what she has – a talent in mechanics, an aspiring reputation as the best mechanic in New Beijing, an android companion with a prince-swooning personality chip defect, and one step-sister who treats her with compassion.

In this futuristic setting, two massive threats are taking its toll across the world.  A deadly pandemic is spreading rapidly and with no cure in sight, people are beginning to panic.  And while peace between nations has been stable for some time, a war seems likely with Luna, a colony of human-like aliens on the moon who yield powers to possess and control through glamours and bioelectricity.  Cyborgs face the biggest threat.  While the search for a cure is hastened as the world balances precariously on the brink of an interplanetary war, cyborgs are being drafted in large numbers to give their lives for the sake of science.

Cinder first meets the handsome Prince Kai when he walks into her shop looking for the best mechanic in New Beijing.  His personal android is on the fritz and he needs Cinder’s help.  She agrees to help him on his secret project but it isn’t long before a sequence of events unfold and send Cinder hurtling directly into the middle of an interplanetary conflict.  And it all leads up to a great ball that Cinder was invited to as Prince Kai’s personal guest, much to the dissatisfaction of both her step-mother and Queen Levana, the Luna ruler.

Queen Levana comes to us from Snow White, complete with her magic mirrors.  In this tale, she’s an alien – queen of the Luna colony.  She is an evil woman who uses her power to glamour herself, convincing everyone of her beauty while simultaneously turning everyone who looks upon her into mindless drones who feel nothing but complete love and adoration.  But mirrors and cameras are not able to be tricked, and so they are banned in her presence (the mirror cannot lie and show her to be the fairest).  What Queen Levana wants is to rule earth.  The nations have been trying for years to enter a peace treaty but her demand is firm: to become empress by forming a marriage alliance with Prince Kai.

The marriage alliance is a bargaining chip which could prevent war but Prince Kai refuses to take the bait.  Moreover, he’s become enamored with lowly civilian Cinder – the only girl in New Beijing who doesn’t want to go the ball with him.  But when Cinder discovers a Luna plot revolving around their own Luna fairy tale, she might just be tempted to make a grand entrance.

Cyborgs, and androids, and aliens … oh, my!  This isn’t the sing-song bedtime story your mother read to you at night.  There is anger, death, political espionage, plague, sorrow, and a whole array of science-fiction topics.  But there are also those sweet connections to stories of yore – a prince constantly described as ‘charming’, the sinister step-mother, the spoiled step-daughter, a girl below social status receiving royal recognition, an evil queen, a mechanical android foot haphazardly left in haste at the palace steps …

There is no happily ever after at the end of Cinder.  There are no rainbows or sunsets or song and dance numbers.  Nor is there any resolution at all.  There is only the need to pick up the second book.  Are you ready for Little Red Riding Hood and the big bad wolf?

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