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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Cinder: Get ready to see the story of Cinderella like you’ve never seen it before (My thoughts on book #1 in The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer)

Let me start off this review by saying that much like Veronica Roth’s Divergent, Cinder is a book that I’ve wanted to read for a very long time. Thankfully, it didn’t completely disappoint me like Divergent did. I’d even say that Cinder actually exceeded my expectations. That being said, I’m pretty sure that I wasn’t aware of the fact that Cinder is the first book in a series called The Lunar Chronicles until very recently when I saw reviews for the third book in the series, Cress, and a review for the fifth and final book in the series, Winter, on one of my favorite book review channels on YouTube, Bookables. With that said, here are my thoughts on Cinder.

One of the reasons why I’ve always wanted to read Cinder is because I’ve always been a huge fan of retellings or “reimaginings” of fairy tales. I love the movie Hoodwinked, but admittedly I still need to see Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil. I’m also a huge fan of the TV shows Once Upon a Time and Grimm. Much like those examples of fairytale retellings, Cinder is an awesome new take on the story of Cinderella. Another reason why I love this book so much is because I’m also a fan of science fiction books, TV shows, and movies. This story definitely contains some elements of science fiction given the fact that the character Cinder is a cyborg and people apparently live on the moon in the Lunar Chronicles world.

Linh Cinder, who’s usually simply referred to as “Cinder” in the book, is a very fun and likable character. I love how she really has a tendency to be sarcastic. At the same time, she’s definitely a character that has a lot of heart and compassion for others, despite the fact that her stepmother, Linh Adri, and her stepsister, Linh Pearl, are both quite mean to her. Cinder clearly cares a lot about her other stepsister, Linh Peony, who was also a great character. I was definitely very sad about the fact that Peony died after she contracted the letumosis plague.

The interaction between Cinder and Dr. Erland as they worked together throughout the book to try and find a cure for the letumosis plague was a lot of fun to read, and one of my favorite aspects of the book. I’m really hoping that Dr. Erland will be featured in the other books in The Lunar Chronicles series in some capacity. The fact that the citizens of New Bejing were dealing with the threat of a plague definitely added a really interesting element to the story and created some very compelling drama in the story as well, with Peony and Prince Kai’s father, Emperor Rikan, sadly both dying from the plague.

As I said in my review of Emma Chase’s book Overruled, it’s very rare that I like every character in a book, TV show or movie. Despite the fact that Queen Levana is evil and is apparently somewhat inspired by the Evil Queen from the story of Snow White, I actually ended up thoroughly enjoying the character, so I’m very happy that Marissa Meyer wrote a book (Fairest: The Lunar Chronicles: Levana’s Story) that focuses on Queen Levana. That being said, I definitely didn’t like Cinder’s stepmother, Linh Adri, or her stepsister, Linh Pearl. Neither of them has any kind of complexity to them as characters, or moments in the story where they showed signs of having any shades of grey to them that might make them seem genuinely sympathetic in any way.

Honestly, I’m okay with that though, since I’ve come to expect Cinderella’s stepmother and stepsisters to be portrayed as being bad and horrible people without any depth to them, or redeeming qualities in any kind of retelling of Cinderella. That being said, I do like that Cinder was friends with her stepsister, Peony. Peony being Cinder’s friend was definitely a fun and interesting twist to have in a retelling of Cinderella. One last comment that I’d like to make in regards to Linh Adri is that I was definitely right when I said in my review for Entwined with You that I was expecting that the book Cinder would continue the trend of me reading books where the protagonist has at least one rather shitty parent.

Since this is a reimagining of Cinderella, I was totally expecting that there was going to be a fairy godmother type of character, who would help Cinder get to the ball that took place towards the end of the book. I was really surprised when that didn’t end up being the case, though, because both the reason Cinder went to the ball and the way she got to the ball ended up playing out very differently from how I would usually expect a story that’s inspired by the story of Cinderella to play out. The reason Cinder ended up going to the ball was because she received a message from somebody on the moon, warning her that Queen Levana was planning to kill Prince Kai, so she went to the ball to warn Prince Kai that he was in danger. Cinder ended up wearing the dress Peony had been planning to wear to the ball, and it got dirty when she was on her way to the ball. As for how Cinder got to the ball, Cinder got there by driving an old car that she had been trying to repair, which felt very fitting given the fact that Cinder is a mechanic.

Honestly, the only thing that bugged me about the book Cinder is the fact that the book really ends on a cliffhanger. I’m not going to hold that against this book, though, since it’s the first book in the series. However, the fact that the second book in the series, Scarlet, focuses on a character named Scarlet Benoit, and is apparently a retelling of the story Little Red Riding Hood, does make me worry that the resolution of the cliffhangers in this book won’t be handled very well. Having watched the reviews for The Lunar Chronicles series on the YouTube channel, Bookables, it’s my understanding that we don’t completely lose the characters that are in Cinder. For that reason, I’m going to reserve judgment regarding how Meyer handles the resolution of the storylines in this book until I read Scarlet.

If Meyer ends up not doing a good job of resolving the cliffhangers in this book or any other cliffhangers that the other books in the series might end on, that might negatively impact how I’ll feel about The Lunar Chronicles series once I’ve read the entire series, though. Maybe it’s unfair of me to potentially hold any dissatisfaction that I may end up having with this book against the other books in this series, but both this book and the series as a whole appears to be very unique in regards to how each of the books in the series play out. I don’t really know of any other way I could evaluate the way Marissa Meyer handles resolving the cliffhangers for this book, or any cliffhangers that the other books in the series may have.

All things considered, Cinder definitely didn’t truly disappoint me in any way. This was a really fun book to read, and it had a really great and interesting plot to it. While this book was full of great characters, Cinder, Prince Kai, Dr. Erland and Queen Levana are definitely my favorites. I really regret not having read Cinder a lot sooner, and as I said earlier, I’ll definitely be reading the rest of The Lunar Chronicles series at some point.

That being said, my final score for Cinder is 10 out of 10.

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