Cinder by Marissa Meyer
This was the book that started the obsession. Yes, the with the super special italics. This was the book that launched a thousand ships – okay, only four, but a thousand just sounds way cooler, doesn’t it?
This is the first book in what would be hailed as one of my favorite series ever. It’s currently fighting hardcore with Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. However, this series will always be the book that helped me realized one of the greatest gifts to mankind: fairytale retellings.
In case you’ve been living under a young adult fiction rock, you may have heard of the Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer. If you haven’t, that’s okay, too. I tried to avoid this book for as long as I could, since truthfully, I’m a bit of a book hipster, and if everyone is loving it, I’m usually hiding from it. I first read this book quite a few years ago, towards when the the second book of the series came out with maybe a year or so for the third to come out? Anyway, I recently reread it, and while I hadn’t completely loved it the first time, I was completely enthralled by it the second time.
Cinder is, yes, a retelling of the Cinderella story. However, it is much different than Disney’s or Grimm’s stories. It is set many years in the future (after World War 4) in the site of New Beijing where cyborgs, androids, scary magic moon people, and humans coexist – not so happily, of course. Cinder is a cyborg – 36% not human – and she is hated by her stepmother and stepsister. Her life revolves around handling their every whim and being the best mechanic in New Bejing. The town is also overrun with the plague – a disease that once you get, you’re dead, and cyborgs are often drafted to be test subjects. One day, the prince comes to visit her and asks her to fix an android that is said to have top secret and important information on it. This lets loose a string of events that will forever alter Cinder’s life.
I love me a good fairytale retelling, and I thought it was insane to pair crazy moon aliens, cyborgs, and androids with the original Cinderella fairytale. It turned out to be an amazing combination, and I was blown away with the absolute breathtaking world that Meyer created. Everything was thought of, and this story easily has been the cause of many fan girl moments for me.
This is perhaps one of the most unconventional Cinderella stories that I have ever read. Meyer managed to take the foundations of the old tale, and completely revolutionize it. You’ve got an incredible and lush setting, a storyline that involves so much more than just going to a ball and getting a HEA, characters that have more depth than what Grimm could have ever imagined, and so much more.
I will admit that, yes, Cinder does fall into some tropes of the Young Adult Fiction world. She is a “special” girl that stands out from the rest, who has something magically “wrong” with her that turns her out to be a one, true savior, and all that stuff. However, this is a Cinderella story. How could it be that if she was just the awkward non-talking mice in the background? Kai and her do have a pretty eh romance for part of it, but trust me, it develops so much more into all your feels are feeling hard.
I have heard a lot of people say that this was their least favorite book in the series, and truthfully, it was mine, too, for a while. When I reread this, I started feeling all the feels again, so maybe I was blinded by how much I loved this series as a whole. However, I began to deconstruct that notion. It wasn’t the series I loved; it was also this book. The setting is beautiful, and Meyer managed to captivate her audience with the imagery she created. She created likeable, fun characters that you wanted to root for – or also eternally hate (I’m looking at you, Levana, if only you could see behind your pretty veil). She created a storyline that had me trying to figure out what the stars above was going to happen next.
I can’t say enough times how amazingly creative and readable this series is. It is well worth the effort to read it and fall hard into the Lunar Chronicles fandom. Even if you are not completely sold with this book, the next few books will have you begging for more. Meyer has become an insta-buy for me, not just because of her amazing writing ability but because o
f stories like this filled with hearts, scars, and so much more. It’s so much more than a Happily Ever After…it’s a Once Upon a Time with a helluva twist.
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