Reynje's Reviews > Cinder

Cinder by Marissa Meyer
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Feb 04, 12

bookshelves: e-book-kindle, arc-egalley, read-2011, young-adult, sci-fi, saw-it-coming, folk-and-fairytales
Read from December 02 to 05, 2011


3.5 stars

I’d venture to say that the version of Cinderella most people of my generation (or thereabouts) were introduced to was Disney’s blonde, blue-dress-wearing wearing, rags-to-riches interpretation. I know that for most of my childhood I associated the name with animated mice, glass slippers and that ‘Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo’ song. (view spoiler)

But Cinderella’s roots lie centuries deeper, and forklore the world over is rich with variants on the story. Most carry the common thread of “unjust oppression / triumphant reward”, and the central elements and tropes have soaked down through the years, permeating today’s popular culture. The very name ‘Cinderella’ has become somewhat synonymous with the persecuted heroine archetype, an icon of changed fortune.

The themes and messaging around this classic take on Cinderella are understandably not all that resonant with part of its modern audience. They’re less willing to see a young woman’s happiness so rigidly defined, and determined by the fortuitous existence of a fairy godmother and the flick of a magic wand. There is a clamour these days for characters (particularly female) with more agency, more control over their future. And possibly less dancing rodents.

Cinder is a timely and welcome re-boot of the fairytale, with Meyer changing up the rather archaic elements for a futuristic setting and a much less passive approach to the central character. In this incarnation, Cinder is a cyborg, living in New Beijing and working as a mechanic. Under the legal guardianship of a cold and disdainful “stepmother”, Cinder is relegated to second-class status, good enough to bear of brunt of earning the family’s living, but unworthy of recognition as a true member of the family. In addition, Cinder faces prejudice due to the fact that she is a cyborg from her family, her community, even herself.

The character of Cinder was quite possibly my favourite element of Marissa Meyer’s book. She’s an intelligent, resourceful and sharply funny young woman, who carries a wrench and isn’t afraid to use it. Her vulnerabilities are counterbalanced with her strength, just as she’s a blend of human and machine. And while a measure of chance and coincidence play into the events that unfold in Cinder’s life, she also makes choices, takes action. It’s this self-determination against the odds, (more so than her mechanical parts), that define Cinder as a modern Cinderella.

I should also mention here Kai and Iko, whom I also liked immensely. Iko because she was adorable and cheeky, Kai because he was a refreshing take on the traditional “Prince”. It would have been incredibly easy for this character to be a cardboard cutout filling a cliché role, but Meyer crafts a genuinely likeable and interesting character who has great on-page presence (view spoiler)

Equally, I enjoyed the world that Cinder inhabited, and the cultural elements melded together to form the Eastern Commonwealth. There are some scenes in Cinder that are quite visual, and I loved the ideas Meyer put forward to describe her New Beijing. That said, I definitely feel that there was untapped potential here. Meyer scratches the surface of an intriguing concept, gives us glimpses of fascinating world, but I wanted more. More pictured, more explained, more utilised. Particularly in terms of the multi-cultural dynamic of the Eastern Commonwealth, which I can’t help but wish had been delved into more deeply.

Alongside the futuristic makeover of the setting and characters, Cinder stays quite close to the original fairytale in terms of the plot. Meyer does twist a few points, and gives the story some shades of grey rather than formulaic black and white, but there aren’t really any major surprises. To this end the foreshadowing throughout Cinder is not always particularly subtle. I’m unsure whether the last big revelation of the book was intended to be a surprise, or whether Meyer wanted us to have guessed it in advance, but I can’t say I batted an eyelid at its exposure.

Despite this, I still found Cinder inventive and engaging, and there is a lot of fun to be had within it’s covers. I enjoyed Meyer’s vision of the future and her re-imagined take on a classic tale, and I think the ground has been solidly laid for a strong, interesting follow up.

An advance review copy was provided by the publishers via NetGalley
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Reading Progress

12/03/2011
31.0% "I like Cinder thus far. But then, I'm always a fan of a girl who carries a wrench."
12/05/2011
71.0% "Poor Iko"

Comments (showing 1-24 of 24) (24 new)

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Reynje Approved! Yay! :D


Wendy Darling Oh excellent! I'll be reading this soon, too. :)


Reynje I'm still well in the novelty phase of ARC/e-galley world :)


Wendy Darling If you love books, I'm not sure the novelty phase ever really wears off! :)


Reynje That's true :)

(Isn't this a smiley conversation? :))


Stephenie :) Who doesn't enjoy a good smiley conversation?


message 8: by Steph (last edited Dec 06, 2011 08:43AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Steph Sinclair "Put then together and what've you got? Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo!"

Thanks, Reynje. Thanks. If you need me, I'll just be in the corner singing that song over and over. Lol. ^_^


Wendy Darling Poo. Coming back to read this after I've read/reviewed...but the 3 stars doesn't look promising.


Steph Sinclair A lot of my friends seem to be giving this one 3 stars.


Reynje Stephanie wrote: ""Put then together and what've you got? Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo!"

Thanks, Reynje. Thanks. If you need me, I'll just be in the corner singing that song over and over. Lol. ^_^"


Hahaha! My work here is done ;)

Wendy Darling wrote: "Poo. Coming back to read this after I've read/reviewed...but the 3 stars doesn't look promising."

Wens, I liked it - it just didn't totally blow me away. I tend to like my book experiences with a bit more impact. It was entertaining though :) Looking forward to hearing what you think..


message 12: by Shirley (last edited Feb 02, 2012 10:51PM) (new)

Shirley Marr Her vulnerabilities are counterbalanced with her strength, just as she’s a blend of human and machine. And while a measure of chance and coincidence play into the events that unfold in Cinder’s life, she also makes choices, takes action. It’s this self-determination against the odds, (more so than her mechanical parts), that define Cinder as a modern Cinderella.

Rey, stop it! Stop being so introspective. You're putting us to shame. You will have no friends left!


Reynje Shirley honey, I was born introspective! Lol. (Oh, now I have Lady Gaga stuck in my head..)

Also, I bribe my friends with chocolate and kittens :)


message 14: by Fred (new)

Fred Thanks for another lovely review, I really enjoy your thoughts and the way you express them!


Reynje Thanks very much Fred!


Cassi aka Snow White Haggard I hope we weren't supposed to be surprised by the ending...I wasn't at all.


Reynje The more I think about it, the more I'm inclined to think it wasn't supposed to be a surprise... surely not!


Susie This is a very thought review and I appreciate that you wrote it. I agree on all points, especially the not-so-subtle foreshadowing.


Susie I mean "thoughtful" review


Reynje Thanks Susie :)


Valerie Great review! I totally agree on untapped potential. There were SO many things where I would have been interested to know/experience/see more. They say not to worldbuild too much but in this case I think the setting was so intriguing it could have done with more.

Also, I wonder how Prince Kai ended up so lax and American-teen-like when he's been groomed to be the Emperor of a huge country?


Reynje Valerie wrote: "Great review! I totally agree on untapped potential. There were SO many things where I would have been interested to know/experience/see more. They say not to worldbuild too much but in this case I..."

Thanks Valerie.. hopefully the worldbuilding is expanded on a little more in the next book :)


Therealbadkitty You wrote "forklore" instead of folklore in one sentence. Just thought i'd tell you :)


Ronyell Awesome review!!!


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