I’ve heard and read many positive reviews about Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicle series since last year when I started watching booktube and reading more blogs. The reviews made me curious so when I saw a copy of Cinder at the library back in June, I decided to plunge into this hyped series.
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.
Cinder is a futuristic young-adult sci-fi novel that was quick and fun to read. It’s a slight retelling of the Cinderella fairytale that takes place in a future where people live on the moon and travel by spaceships and hovers instead of planes and cars and have ID chips installed in their arms. Some people, called Lunars, have special abilities akin to magical powers, while others, called cyborgs, are bonded to mechanical parts to compensate for amputations and other alterations to their body. However, because of the power Lunars have and their tyrannical queen who rules the moon, Lunars are despised by earthlings; and earthlings who have mechanical enhancements are also disliked, which makes social interactions difficult for our titular character, Linh Cinder, who is a cyborg.
Cinderella was my favorite fairytale when I was a kid so it was fun to see how Meyer reworked it for her story. I like that she doesn’t try to overtly include all elements of the fairytale. Instead, the obvious parts of the fairytale help to define Cinder (she is hated by her step-mother and one of her step-sisters, she captures the prince’s eye but is prevented from attending the ball, she’s a mechanic so she often has smudges and grease stains on her body and clothing, etc.), while the smaller details that make the fairytale worthwhile are subtely worked in and are simply hinted at in passing (the “glass slipper” left behind as Cinder flees the ball and the ball itself, which is like the ball in the fairytale and not (I love that she literally crashes it)).
Cinder appealed to me immediately. I like that she’s a mechanic (I love it when female characters take on traditionally male jobs) and a tomboy, and also that she operates on the fridges of her society’s norm and doesn’t care much for what is popular. But what I love the most about her is that she creates her own opportunities. In Disney’s Cinderella, which is the one I grew up reading, Cinderella has to rely on magic and Prince Charming to free her from a life she dislikes. However, Cinder uses her talents and knowledge to devise a plan to free herself. And I think it would have worked if she didn’t care so much about Prince Kaito and her planet.
Apart from Cinder, I also like Iko, the family’s android. Iko is very girly, but is more like a teenager than Cinder. Also, Iko more so embodies Cinderella’s characteristics than Cinder since Iko is the one who’s made to handle all the household chores and who sorely wishes to attend the ball. If the world wasn’t ending, Cinder wouldn’t give two shits about that damn ball. — An over-exaggeration but kind of true since it’s desperation that drives Cinder to the ball. But basically, I like how well Cinder and Iko’s personalities play off each other.
Speaking of personalities, a topic the story touches on is what defines us as human beings, what makes us human? Iko sorely wishes to be a real girl (she reminds me of Pinocchio) and because of a glitch in her system, she has more personality than the average android, making her seem human-like in her personality. When she’s destroyed and one of Cinder’s step-sisters dies, Cinder takes their ID chips. It’s her way of keeping those she cares about with her. Her way of preserving who they are.
I should discuss the antagonist, Queen Levana, but I don’t have much to say about her. She didn’t stand out to me and she seems very one-dimensional, just mean and evil. There’s no complexity there.
I rate books based on my enjoyment of them, mostly, and this one was very entertaining. It has its faults, but they weren’t many and by the story’s end, I was eager to start the next book in the series. I look forward to reading more. I’d like more backstory on Queen Levana and I’d also like to know why people decided to migrate to the moon.