Cinder by Marissa Meyer
4/5 Very Good!
Teen fiction has become less and less awesome as the years progress, with vampires, werewolves, and more dystopias than anyone cares to read. That all tends to get really old really fast. Enter Cinder by Marissa Meyer. This modern fairy-tale remake keeps some of the old classic story (Cinder being a social outcast due to her metal bits; she lives with an evil stepmother and an evil step-sibling; she loses a “shoe,” etc.) while new stuff happens. Even the new parts of the story aren’t entirely new, like the plague that ravages the city and kills the emperor, or the conspiracies of a princess everyone assumes is dead (think Russian revolution).
Aside from the classical fiction aspects and the semi-historical facets, the characterization is a large part of what makes this book so enjoyable to read. Cinder is not a princess. She’s a mechanic, meaning she doesn’t really care what people think and she is often covered in oil or something equally un-girly. She refuses to admit to having any feeling for the handsome Prince Kaito, whom she meets when he asks her to repair his android. She does have feelings, for her sister, her android friend Iko, and she acts on these feelings, the way teenage girls do. Cinder is as real as any human in her story or teen girl reading it.
There are some downsides to this delightful sci-fi fairy tale. First off, it drags. At times, the pace is too slow. The descriptions are decent, but sometimes, they’re too much, especially for the plague, which could make the average reader gag and give up, fearing more grossness. Finally, the biggest issue is that the most important plot probably isn’t going to surprise anyone.
Despite these shortcomings, Cinder redeems itself with interesting action and, throughout the rest of the series, a very well-developed plot and lots of fun characters with their own backstories and personality quirks. It’s definitely worth reading the rest of the series, because this is a dystopian fairy tale like nothing ever seen before.