January 8, 2014

REVIEW: Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1)

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1), by Marissa Meyer
Published January 3, 2012
Feiwel & Friends
audiobook, purchased
young adult sci-fi/fantasy
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating:  5 STARS

(From Goodreads)
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.

Since its release, I must've seen a hundred reviews for Cinder, and each time, I was left to wonder how a story about a robot could be romantic. I need some romance in my books, and the thought of a relationship between a robot and a human is just... well, icky. And yet, I was intrigued. So, when I saw it on sale on Audible, I pulled the trigger.

A crazy thing happened. I realized that Cinder was a story about so much more than a robot who loved a boy. It's so much more than a fractured fairytale. And, it's freaking AWESOME. 

Cinder is a cyborg, with over 30% of her body comprised of non-organic parts. She lives with her awful stepmother and two stepsisters and is practically their slave. Then, one day, she has a run-in with the handsome Prince Kai and from that point on, her life completely changes. In a world where a plague is killing citizens at alarming rates, cyborgs and androids are commonplace, and there's a world of people on the moon who can control your mind, anything is possible - including a cyborg and a prince falling in love. 

I am utterly captivated and amazed at this world built by Marissa Meyer. It takes place in the distant future, but we're not sure exactly when. Just that enough time has passed for four world wars to come and go and the moon to be completely colonized by a race of people who can do serious mojo with their minds. The world is inhabited by androids, and people who have medical emergencies can have parts replaced with synthetic ones, making them cyborgs. Trains are carried along by magnets, cars hover above the ground, and people have ID chips embedded in their wrists. The details of the world building and the interweaving of the detailed storyline was completely seamless. 

I guess one would call Cinder a "fractured fairytale." It seems somehow a disservice to reduce it to that label though. I mean, sure - there's a orphaned slave girl named Cinder, a wicked stepmother and two stepsisters, a handsome prince, and even an evil queen. Oh, and when escaping from the ball, Cinder doesn't just leave her glass slipper behind - she leaves her whole damn FOOT. The correlations between Cinder and my daughter's favorite Disney movie are obvious. 

But, Cinder is much darker than I had expected. And so much more complex. In Cinder, we're introduced to the main characters, but also a nefarious plot orchestrated by the Lunars to take over the Earth and enslave its people. We learn Cinder's role in this plot, as well as Kai's and the wicked Lunar Queen Levana's. This plot, together with the spreading of the deadly plague and the constant search for a cure make for an intriguing, unique and completely brilliant book. 

With everything that's going on, you would think that the book would be rushed and confusing. But, the pacing is absolutely perfect, with details being brought to light at just the right moment. The characters are all incredible. It was so easy to fall in love with Kai and Cinder and to feel so much sadness and fear and excitement for them. 

A few words about the audio version - the narrator, Rebecca Soler, did an absolutely amazing job. She made the characters come to life. I'll be looking up her other works after this. 

Who knew I would love a book about a cyborg girl falling in love with a boy (And, really, that's NOT what Cinder is about. The romance aspect was rather minor, actually.) as much as I did? One thing was for certain - Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2) and the upcoming Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3) are absolute must-reads for me now. 


Danny said...

Hehe!! I also listened to the audio after nearly everyone has read it already. (So same like you, though a little earlier)

This series is just made of wonderment and amazement. And you'll love the next books just as much:)) So happy you finally read it and loved it as much as so many others:)

Unknown said...

Absolutely loved this book! Scarlet is just as good and I can hardly wait for Cress!