Cinder by Marissa Meyer. 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.
I have a love-hate relationship with this book. I must have changed my rating of it at least 5 times.
Cinder was an enjoyable, entertaining read over-all. The plot was intriguing, the characters memorable, the love story believable, the idea for the setting unique enough.
Then there's the buts.
The descriptions of Cinder's world in New Beijing were sufficient enough to give the reader an idea of the setting, however a richer description would have added more to the story. What makes it New Beijing? Were there still any traces of the China that we know now, aside from a few mentions of dumplings and market stalls? A good example for how this can be achieved is in The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi, set in 23rd century Thailand. Right off the bat, Bacigalupi paints a picture of Thailand in the future, still redolent of its iconic tuktuks and (genetically mutated) elephants, though mixed up with markets filled with bio-technologically enhanced fruits, and cyborg, errr... prostitutes. And that's only from the first few chapters.
There were some things that left me with a niggling sense of familiarity while I was reading this book. Such as the Lunars and the story about the lost Lunar princess that kept popping up in the story. It's as if I've heard it before. Then I remembered: Sailor Moon.
I thought it was only a coincidence, all of these "similarities". Imagine my disappointment when I found Marissa Meyer thanking her fellow Sailor Moon fans at the end of the book. A further search on Google showed me that Meyer used to write Sailor Moon fanfiction. I was truly disappointed, because I thought I had read something quite original in Cinder, as far as fairytale retellings go.
I'm crossing my fingers that book 2 leaves me more satisfied.
current rating: 3 out of 5 chocolates