Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Arty -- Cinder by Marissa Meyer

I am so late again.  I apologize. 

Cinder.  Another one of those 'you have to read it, it's so good' books I keep hearing about. 

And you have to admit, the idea is pretty awesome.  A cyborg Cinderella in futuristic Beijing (New Beijing, to be precise)?  Definitely cool.  But surely such a great idea that was popular to boot couldn't be that good.

It could.

Here's the synopsis from Goodreads:

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'm going to start with the best and most impressive thing: the book wasn't about Cinder and Kai.  It was about Cinder.

It was about Cinder being a mechanic, and about Cinder's different relationships with her family (unfriendly with her stepmother and older stepsister, loving to her younger stepsister, Peony), and about Cinder trying to make sense of what she's found herself in, and about Cinder trying to help Kai, and then, sparsely, about Cinder falling in love with Kai.

It's about Cinder and how she works (no pun on the cyborg nature), not about Cinder falling in love with her Prince Charming.  It's ridiculously refreshing.

Kai and the other characters were well fleshed-out, too.  I actually love Kai.  Not a fangirl, ooh-I-love-him-so-much kind of love, but he's a really cool character with his own identity apart from Cinder, too.  His balance of insecurity and intelligence was interesting to watch. 

Queen Levana was a sincerely creepy villainess.  I mean... really creepy.  The whole idea of her - I won't spoil it - and of the Lunar race is oddly believable and at the same time just really creepy.  Which made a few of the plot twists even more horrible.

Meyer has a great writing style - very crisp and precise, not flowery or overdone or very fairytale-ish at all.  It actually felt a lot like Cinder - a brilliant mechanic, picking exactly the right words for exactly the right effect.  It wasn't a pretty style, like - say - Markus Zusak or Diana Wynne Jones - but it really worked.

Oh.  And the way she incorporated the Cinderella story details into this was just brilliant.  The car, and her baby cyborg foot, and the missing slipper... brilliant.  Did I say brilliant?

The cons of Cinder... there aren't many.

The afore-mentioned plot twists were... sort of predictable.  I don't try to figure out anything ahead of time, usually, but this time it was easy to see where Meyer was going.  Not all the time, but on a few of the key points.  Though I hate to say it, Cinder's and Kai's relationship does sometimes smack of insta-love.  (But love is rarely the focal point of their dealings with each other and it's overall more tastefully handled than in most cases.)  And it ends on a dreadful cliffhanger, and the next book, Scarlet, doesn't come out 'til February.

Small complaints from me.  In my humble opinion, it's a must-read for fans of fairytale retellings, sci-fi lite, or even just really well characterized YA.

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