Thoughts: Cinder


Cinder by Marissa Meyer is the first book in the Lunar Chronicles series and my first read for R.I.P. X. A YA dark fantasy tale, the book is a re-envisioning of the Cinderella fairytale starring  a cyborg Cinderella. The story is set in the futuristic  Chinese city of New Beijing, led by an emperor and populated by humans, androids and cyborgs. They are threatened by a plague-like disease, letumosis, as well as impending war with the colonizers of the moon, the Lunars.

The Cinderella aspect of the story was nicely done. In Meyer’s work, Linh Cinder is a cyborg and as such a second-class citizen, she lives with her owner/ guardian the ‘evil stepmother’, her two stepsisters and the family’s android Iko. Of course, there’s the obligatory handsome prince and the sisters’ excitement for the ball.  Important points of the fairytale, such as the shoe and the carriage and Cinderella’s servant status translate well into the dystopia and fit neatly in with the more SF parts of Cinder.

I often struggle with YA literature, though I’m trying hard to do better and give more works a chance. My problem is usually that the romance aspect is so over important and central to the plot. (I’d love recommendations for romance-less YA or barely-there romance YA!) Luckily Cinder, while definitely into wonderful prince Kai, is mostly busy with being an awesome mechanic, all the mysterious past stuff, an evil queen and letumosis.

The setting of a futuristic China was a big draw for me, but unfortunately one of the novel’s weakest points. The setting is so underdeveloped and unspecific that it might as well have taken place in any Western country. This in no way challenges the hegemonic Westerness of science-fiction and often fantasy, as Western readers we can rest assured that our view of the world, our experience is universal and will remain so. To the point that even in futuristic dystopian visions, we cannot fathom anything else.

I was also initially very excited about the post world war IV world with different nations and unions. The book touched on so many important themes like world wars, slavery, colonialism, racism and social justice. Sadly all of these remain mostly underdeveloped, even though a great premise is already there. That’s quite frustrating for me, but since it’s a series, perhaps it’ll be explored in the sequels?

All in all, Cinder is a quick read with a great protagonist and a lot of potential. I definitely recommend this to YA fairy tale and fantasy fans.

Have you reviewed this book? Let me know and I’ll add a link!

10 thoughts on “Thoughts: Cinder

  1. I’m glad to hear you liked it. This book is a quite recent addition to my to-read list (I’m really into dystopian, SF and fantasy books lately).
    I thought the setting was a very interesting idea, it’s a pity you found it underdeveloped.

    PS: I’m trying to come up with a suggestion of a romance-less SF YA.

  2. I think Genesis by Bernard Beckett have no romance (that I can remember of)…or at least, it’s not a very important part of the plot.

    1. Thanks, Lu, I’ll definitely check out the Genesis book! Maybe you won’t have my kind of expectations as to the setting of Cinder, hope you enjoy it. The main character is great! I love fantasy and SF as well at the moment. It’s kind of long and the first in a trilogy, but I recommend Hurley’s Mirror Empire and all things N. K. Jemisin.

  3. Hi Bina, this sounds interesting. I haven’t read many YA. Perhaps, this would be a good start for me. 🙂

    1. Hope you’ll enjoy it 🙂 There are lots of great YA novels, but I’m still learning about YA lit. This one is pretty good and a series to boot.

  4. Oh, hey, look at this, I have a wordpress account :p. I’ll put some YA recommendations here :).
    I really like Holly Black’s books. I think White Cat (the Curse Workers series) is not too heavy on romance. It’s there, but there’s more important stuff going on. (I think? I mostly remember really liking it. Maybe not more romance than Cinder has.) It’s witchy fantasy.
    I realllly liked Fallout by Gwenda Bond (a teen Lois Lane!) I don’t remember there being any romance in it (so if there is, it’s not very memorable.. or I just have really bad memory :p).
    Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis has little romance. This is apocalyptic, but really dark.
    Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein is mostly about friendship (and WOII and flying planes).
    I also really liked The Astrologer’s Daughter by Rebecca Lim. But now I think that there is some romance in it? I think I have pretty bad memory… Romance is hard to escape, but most of these are not like Divergent or Delirium. Which ones did you read that you didn’t really like? (Maybe I should have startd by asking this ;))

    But actually lately I’ve been enjoying romance-y contemporary YA books, weird how taste can change over time :p. (But the ones like Eleanor & Park, Bright Before Sunrise and The Beginning of Everything and not the dystopian romance ones where they meet and immediately fall in love, but oh no! There’s some random reason why they can’t be together, but in the end it all ends well. Those, nope. Def not when the main character stops doing things for herself and is all about the guy.)

    1. Thanks so much for all the recs! I think I’ve read some stuff by Holly Black and liked it and I’ve been wanting to give Rainbow Rowell a try for some time. Hope I’ll become a better YA readef 🙂

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