Cinder // Book Review

Goodreads description: 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.

I’ve been wanting to read this book for awhile, but every time I went to a book store, I could never find it. They only had the sequels, Scarlet and Cress. (Fairest, as I understand it, is a prequel about Queen Levana; the last installment in the series, Winter, comes out later this year.) Since I could never find it, I decided to listen to it on audiobook because I have a free trial right now.

Best. Decision. Ever.

I normally don’t do audiobooks. This was only my second time, the first one being with We Were Liars and I didn’t care too much for that one. This one, though–this one was superb. The narrator did different voices for each character, but none of them sounded too forced or weird. They were all spot-on. There were even different accents when appropriate, which I really enjoyed even though the accent for the American president was really annoying. Everything about the performance brought the story to life, which may have helped me like the story so much.

(Before I go on: since I listened to this on audio I might spell some things incorrectly. Kindly correct me if I’m wrong about anything.)

Also, the characters. They were great and unique and pretty well-rounded. I liked that Prince Kai wasn’t some stock prince character. There were entire chapters devoted to him. He was sarcastic and charming and good and also a little frustrating. Cinder annoyed me at first, but she got better as it went on. I hated the stepmother Adri, which I think was the point. I felt suspicious of Doctor Erland the entire time. I loved Iko and Peony, but wanted to see more of them.

I don’t normally like fantasy/sci-fi, or series, or retellings, but this one did everything right. I felt like the retelling of Dorothy Must Die took too much from the original stories and offered too little; Cinder did exactly the opposite. The story was its own, with subtle underlying themes and symbols from the original story that everyone knows and loves.

I thought it was well-paced, too. Every time I had a question, it was almost immediately answered. Nothing seemed to drag; some of the dialog did go on for a little while, but there was never a time when I was bored. I listened to the last 40% in one day. One of my bookish pet peeves is when a character doesn’t say what needs to be said when appropriate, which occurred a few times. I can forgive all but one, as I later understood why some pieces of information weren’t shared when I wanted them shared. There was a scene towards the end, though, where I felt like shouting at Cinder because she wasn’t saying what I wanted her to say.

I have just a few more small complaints.
1) There’s a race of people who live on the moon, called Lunars, who have powers that can affect those around them (called “glamour”). There are Lunars who don’t have powers, called Shells. I had some confusion about how everything with the powers worked and didn’t work–how they affected some people and not others (Shells, for example, are not affected by the glamour of other Lunars, if I’m correct.) I could never keep all the rules straight with that, and with an audiobook, I couldn’t turn back to previous chapters to look it up again.

2) There were also a few almost too-convenient plot devices. Cinder, for example, goes through security a few times throughout the book. At least twice, there is reason for her to get caught or in trouble because of what she has on her person, and she acknowledges this, but nothing happens. Seemed too much like plot manipulation to me.

Overall, though, I’m impressed. This is exactly what a YA novel should be (also, no love triangle!). I plan to listen to the sequels on audio too, though I’m concerned about them focusing on other characters more than the one is this novel.
I HATE CHANGE. JUST GIVE ME KAI AND CINDER.

~~~

So, tell me: Have you read Cinder? If so, what did you think? Are you sick of retellings, or do they warm your soul? Do you know of any other good cyborg-related books? And, most importantly, ARE THE SEQUELS AS GOOD AS THIS ONE?

–Emily

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