Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Posted June 6th, 2012 in book review / 10 comments


Book #1 of the Lunar Chronicles

by Marissa Meyer

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (January 2012)
Genre: Sci-Fi, Dystopia, YA
Formate: Hardcover (400 pages)
Source: Won in Giveaway
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository
Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3 stars)

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, the 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. ~ Goodreads

At a Glance:
I was excited to finally read this book because I had heard so many great things about it. Plus, I am a sucker for fairy tales retold. I was blown away by Meyer’s concept for a darker version of Cinderella. But in the end, I was left wanting more, and not in the good way.

The Good
A Fairy Tale With Bite…
Cinder was even more than I expected. The sci-fi element of cyborgs and futuristic gadgets really added an intriguing spin to the fairy tale we all know and love. This is not a romance, it is not a tale of a meek, kind girl who gets everything she has ever dreamed of in the end. This story has grit (sometimes literally), injustice beyond comprehension, tragedy, and a society collapsing from all angles.

We open this book to find that the world is cruel. Technology may have become more advanced, but society has not grown in its compassion. Cyborgs, both machine and human, are second class citizens, treated as good as trash, sometimes even experimented on for the good of the rest of the population. Cinder, a mechanic and a cyborg, has lived most her life knowing she means nothing to the world she lives in, and even less to the little family she has left. Then Prince Kai walks into her life and brings both hope and despair. He is a beacon of light that takes away some of the darkness Cinder must endure daily. But he also brings the knowledge that their slice of the world is in grave danger from not only the plague that is slowly eating away at the populace, but also the threat of an impending war against the Lunar people. What Cinder doesn’t know is that she might just be the answer to the many problems her world is facing.

Rise Above the Ashes…
I think each individual character in this book played a vital part in bringing this story together. Cinder was a lot stronger than I was expecting. She has been resigned to a life of labor in order to support people who despise her. She is experimented on and treated like nothing better than an unfeeling machine. She is blamed for things she has no control over, and still she perseveres. She works hard, takes initiative to make her life better, and learns to fight back. She is resilient and resourceful when she could have easily crumbled under the horrible life she is forced to live. Parts of her may be made of wire and metal, but she’s also just a teenage girl who can love and wants to be loved.

The Other Peeps…
I was surprised that Meyer let us also peek into Prince Kai’s POV. We get to watch him struggle as his life starts to crumble around him and no matter what decisions he makes, people will die, people will suffer. That’s a lot of pressure for someone so young. I think he does a good job for the position he is in. Then we have the stepmother and stepsister who are just as bad as you can imagine. The Lunar Queen was a great addition to the story. Her presence actually gave me the chills. You will hate these three women. But the character that made me smile and laugh was Iko. She really stole some of the spotlight because of her adorable personality. I want to see more of her in the series.

The twists in this tale gave the story a lot of oomph. Meyer went beyond the simple premise of Cinderella and jumped leaps and bounds to bring us a world of darkness and light, injustice and triumphs, selfishness and selflessness. Pending war and political intrigue were also a big part of Cinder, which I liked.  Meyer’s ability to take the story of Cinderella and turn it into a light sci-fi with cyborgs and Lunar people was ingenious. She has a great concept to work off of for the rest of the series.

The Bad
I really wanted to like this book more. I almost gave it 3.5 stars because in many ways I did like this book. But there were too many things that annoyed me to justify that rating. First off, the book never really kept my attention. I could easily put it down, and I did, often. At one point I read a whole other book before I came back to Cinder. Most of the time I just wanted to skip to the end–so at least I knew how it ended–and be done with it.

Cinder is a not a very engaging book. It has such an interesting premise and idea and all that potential was untapped. I wanted more world building. I wanted more explanation about society, the past and present, and I wanted to know more about cyborgs. Cinder is both human and machine, but how? I know fantasy doesn’t always have to have perfect reasoning, but you should be able to support your fantastical elements with some logic or explanation on how it works.

It was also predictable. No, not because we all know the story about Cinderella. The predictability had nothing to do with the fairy tale. I knew from the beginning who Cinder was and how she was important. Meyer made it too obvious. It ruined the suspense for me.

The ending was not a happy one. I felt like I went through this somewhat depressing book to finish with an ending that wasn’t really an ending. Nothing good came out of this story. It was just one mess after another and then we got cut off.

The Snuggly
I was hoping for a little more romance. I think Meyer is saving that for the rest of the series. We get to witness the building of a possible romance and that’s it. For me, Kai and Cinder’s “relationship” felt a little forced. I didn’t see what they both saw in each other. I like them as individuals but not necessarily together.

Yes, I rated this book very harshly. I simply can’t give a book with so many problems that many stars. But the three stars are for the characters I found interesting and for the idea that may not have been developed well but was an amazing concept to begin with. I will be continuing this series. I want to see what happens next. I just hope Meyer finds a way to work out the kinks in her writing. Recommended for most of my readers. I think my writing background had a lot do to with my rating, and I feel many readers will not find the faults I did.

“Come to the ball with me.”

She froze. Everyone in the hallway froze.

Cinder turned back. Kai was still standing in elevator B, one hand propping open the door.

Her nerves were frazzled, and all the emotions of the past hour were converging into a single, sickening feeling–desperation. The hall was filled with doctors, nurses, androids, officials, technicians, and they all fell into an awkward hush and stared at the prince and the girl in the baggy cargo pants he was flirting with.


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10 Responses to “Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer”

  1. Sarah Elizabeth

    I think it’s fair enough to give a book 3 stars if it didn’t hold your attention. I often find it’s worse if you’re expecting a book to be really good and then it doesn’t quite live up to expectations.
    I have been in two minds whether or not to read Cinder for some reason, think that I’ll move it a bit further down the wishlist now though.
    Thanks for an honest review Jennifer 🙂

    • Jennifer L. Bielman

      Yessss, I think me expecting more from this book based on the awesome reviews made the result a little harder to take.

      I think you should read it but just don’t expect to be blown away, which is what I expected.

  2. Sarah (saz101)

    EEEEK! Jen, I feel like I’ve let you down, like this so darn much… I’m so glad you liked what you did, though, and I think you’ve nailed it–it’s the characters. I LOVED them.

    “The twists in this tale gave the story a lot of oomph. Meyer went beyond the simple premise of Cinderella and jumped leaps and bounds to bring us a world of darkness and light, injustice and triumphs, selfishness and selflessness.”

    I seriously don’t know what to say beyond this. You NAILED it 😀

    • Jennifer L. Bielman

      Oh, don’t be silly. You didn’t let me down. I think the hype from EVERYONE who reviewed this book made my expectations a little too high. And remember, it was the writer in me that really found the faults, but the reader in me was pleased, even if I could put the book down easily. I still enjoyed the story and the characters.

  3. kimba88

    Sorry it didn’t grab you ..i loved it. A three is still a good rating though and i am glad to see you will continue the series. I like you love fairy tale retellings.

    • Jennifer L. Bielman

      Yeah, a three means I think the book was good, so it wasn’t a bad review at all. I was just a little sad it wasn’t amazing, which was what I was expecting.

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