Really, that's all that needs to be said here. Cyborg. Mechanic.
At least, that's what got me to buy the book when I s Cinderella is a cyborg mechanic.
Really, that's all that needs to be said here. Cyborg. Mechanic.
At least, that's what got me to buy the book when I saw it recommended over at Audible--and boy, was it ever worth it. I'd seen it in the stores, of course, but hadn't paid too close attention. "Eh, it's just another YA fairytale retelling, and it probably involves vampires. Or too much angst. Or both."
No vampires. Excellently creepy maybe-no-longer-human-people who live on the moon? Sure. (They might even be, heh, big bad wolves, but that's my own personal Theory.) But no vampires, thank goodness. Also...okay, technically yes, there was angst, as in actual conflict and not "I'm a brooding jerk and therefore you think I'm hot" or "Ohmigosh, I must have a boyfriend or my entire life is meaningless" which is not actually angst but obnoxiousness. Yes, Cinder does in fact think the prince is hot (and nice to her, which is a big bonus in her book). She agonizes over her outcast state--not uncommon in YA books, but since in this particular novel "outcast" means "member of a subclass that is treated like slaves and is currently being forcibly experimented on with a horrific plague"...well, by all means, let's allow the poor girl her angst. Sheesh.
Therein, of course, lies the book's greatest strength: Cinder's life sucks, for very grim, very agonizing reasons. The shallow silliness is limited largely to Cinder's android companion, who manages to render it cute rather than hideously annoying (which it would have been had it been Cinder doing this instead of a charming little robot with a clothes-fetish). Cinder has much bigger problems, like escaping her indentured servitude/slavery to her sort-of-stepmother and avoiding the cyborg draft (which is where the being horribly experimented on part comes in). Basically, her biggest desire in life is freedom. Everything else comes in a distant second. Okay, sure, the prince and current regent of the empire she lives in comes to her with a job because she's the best mechanic in the city--and he's extremely good looking and charming and kind--but she's well aware that if he knew what she really was he'd probably not even be able to look at her. And even if by some miracle it didn't bother him...well, escaping slavery is rather more important to Cinder than boys. Even royal ones.
The other greatest strength of this novel? Marissa Meyer takes the concept of "Make your characters suffer" and runs with it!
(view spoiler)[ The one stepsister who is her friend and who is kind? Contracts the plague. And not only that, but actually dies. My jaw dropped at that one. It was a rip-your-heart-out-and-watch-it-bleed moment, since the sister dies just as Cinder reaches her bedside with the friggin' plague cure. Her android sidekick? Reduced to spare parts by the stepmother. The old groundcar she unearthed and refurbished in an attempt to run away and win her freedom? Gets wrecked. That whole prince thing? Yeah, sure, she falls in love with him and he with her--but holy cow was she ever right about his reaction when he learns she's a cyborg--and even worse, actually a Lunar. The tale ends with Cinder being thrown in prison. Yeah, okay, she's also handed the means to escape, but still...(hide spoiler)]
I was stunned, amazed, and gratified by Meyer's bravery and sheer chutzpah in her narrative choices. Some of them--many of them--broke my heart, but in a good way. This Cinderella may not (at this point) get the happy ending one might have reasonably anticipated, but by golly, she's no fainting wallflower who get's locked in her room and has to be rescued by mice, either! I found the 'Cinderella loses her shoe' twist to be especially nice. (view spoiler)[ A good chunk of her is mechanical, including one foot. In an effort to punish her and make her stay put, stepmama takes her foot away Yick. Also cool. (hide spoiler)] I deeply admired the fact that, though the part of her that was a young woman in love certainly fantasized about taking the prince up on his offer to go to the ball, she wasn't about to put unrealistic romantic notions in front of her dreams of freedom. (view spoiler)[ Of course, she does end up going to the ball. In an attempt to rescue the prince from the wicked Lunar Queen, which is awesome. (hide spoiler)]
There are so many rehashes of fairytales floating around these days. Robin McKinley's remain, in general, my favorites, but the rest I have happily ignored--until now. Setting "Cinderella" in a science fiction setting was, I feel, an absolutely brilliant, fresh, and new idea. I mean, c'mon: Cyborg. Mechanic. And I'm fairly certain we got a cameo from Rapunzel, who is a hacker. Which is also awesome, and we'd better get her story at some point!!!
This is a book that has made it to my list of "Books I Truly Love." I eagerly await the sequel--not least because Meyer leaves the readers with their jaws hanging and desperate to know what's going to happen now?!
Cinderella has never been my favorite fairytale. Beauty and the Beast is. But THIS version of Cinderella...oh yeah, definitely one of my favorites now!...more
There's a part of me that wishes I could have given this book more than three stars...but in the end, I only liked. I didn't love it. The idea is a goThere's a part of me that wishes I could have given this book more than three stars...but in the end, I only liked. I didn't love it. The idea is a good one: Celtic mythology heavily woven into a world that is part medieval/part steampunk (though there is no steam. Just airships). The protagonist is an interesting idea: hideously deformed and mute. There are moments of great beauty and the feel of the best kind of fairy tales.
But there are also times--and far too many of them--when the florid descriptions bog down the story hideously. There are times, particularly in the first half of the book, when the info-dump careens out of control and I found myself skimming whole sections in an attempt to get back to the story. Possibly due to the fact that I, being of Irish descent and having a lifelong interest in that part of my ancestry, am quite familiar with a goodly chunk of the Celtic fairytales/mythology. And so I found the break in story-action for characters (minor characters I really didn't care about, usually) to tell stories frustrating. It dragged things down horribly and did not, I felt, do what I suspect it was meant to and world-build. And the descriptions! There were some truly beautiful ones scattered throughout, particularly when the characters were out-of-doors and in a forest. These reminded me of the best descriptive bits of Tolkien. However, there were far too many instances of unending LISTS of description/items that didn't do much for me beyond causing me to skim. And then there was what another reviewer here referred to as a 'thesaurus rape.' I raised an eyebrow at that--and then I read the book. Oi. I'm not adverse to a large or sophisticated vocabulary--I consider myself to have a very well developed one. But there were words in there that I had NEVER encountered and which, even in context, did not fit. The characters, by and large, were meant to be simple folk--no great scholars here. So why on earth do we have ridiculously obscure language occurring, even in conversation? It was jarring, and somewhat irritating--particularly early on, when the protagonist is in the worst stages of amnesia and by rights shouldn't know much of anything, much less words most professional scholars would not use unless they were being extremely snobbish. (And possibly not even then...) As an example: why use 'peripatetic' to describe a minstrel strolling through town? 'Traveling' may not be quite so glossy, but it means the same thing and is far more sensible coming from the point of view of the woefully inexperienced protagonist who cannot, so far as she knows, even read.
That being said, the book had some wonderful qualities. As mentioned, there were some truly beautiful descriptive passages and moments of fairy-tale wonder. The characters were mostly interesting, although I never really felt deeply attached to any of them. The protagonist, Imhriel, is by plot-device an enigma, even to herself--but it was interesting that she had such a hideously deformed face. (Pity, however, that it did not remain so--but I can live with this as the tale is, at its roots, a fairytale.) Points to the romantic interest being interested even when she's hideous--and asking her to go with him instead of seeking a cure for her face. I really would have liked to see how that worked out, rather than the easy path of having Imrhiel get her face healed. The eldritch wights and the fact that they not only exist, but infest the world worse than mosquitos was interesting.
Overall, it is a book I liked. I've actually read it twice, though the first time was a decade ago, and the library I borrowed it from only had the first two books, and so I never finished the trilogy. I barely remember anything from the second book. I made an attempt a few years back to reread the first book, and was entirely turned off in the first quarter of the book by tedious descriptive-lists and the fact that every few pages people were stopping to tell each other stories--which felt like padding, and did not in any way advance the plot. I am glad, however, that I tried again--it *is* a good enough book, though I'm not sure it's one I'll be adding to my personal library to reread over and over. We shall see how I feel at the end of the trilogy......more