Decently crafted young adult fairy tale retelling that might be a great introduction to science fiction for younger readers.
I must admit going into this book, I had a little bit of a prejudice against fairy tale retellings. I thought it was an easy way to create a structure for a book and then just change the details. After reading this and thinking about it some, I came to the conclusion, there are more important things to worry about. There is definitely a market for it, it can be done decently, and it can help people get exposed to a genre that they might ignore otherwise.
Cinder is a cyborg, a human that has machine parts keeping her alive, and she works as a mechanic in New Beijing. Cinder works on A.I. and different machines to help support her guardian that begrudgingly took her in. There is a growing threat of an illness that has been spreading across the Earth and of a race of people called The Lunars that live on the moon. Cinder is forcibly pushed into volunteering to be a guinea pig with the disease research when her ‘sort of’ sister catches the disease. Through all this she meets the crown prince of New Beijing and they start a friendship that unbeknownst to her will put her in the path of great danger.
Cinder by Marissa Meyer was pretty good. I thought that Meyer’s writing was highly readable and brought through emotion surprisingly well. The plot was rather predictable but I expected that coming into the story. The fairy tale aspect, being connected to Cinderella, helped add a familiarity to the story that made me want to turn the page and see how Meyer changed things. Cinder herself was a very likable character that acted like a teenager but also showed some self resolve from being alone so much.
I thought the world building was well done and there are moments of political conflict that is reminiscent of an adult book. There is enough mystery about the Lunar people to want to read more about who they are and their abilities. The technology of the cyborgs is handled well with enough detail to make things interesting but not overwhelm younger readers.
If you love YA, I think you should add an extra star to my score. The reason I didn’t rate it any higher though is its simplicity and the lack of anything new. However, I say those things as an adult reader who enjoys complex books. A younger reader that hasn’t read a whole lot will find it fresh and complex.
12/25 Possible Score
Plot – 2(OK)
Characters – 2(OK)
World Building/Setting – 3(Good)
Writing Style – 3(Good)
Heart & Mind Aspect – 2(OK)