Cinder by Marissa Meyer, Review by Corinne Donnelly
Once upon a time, there was a cyborg named Linh Cinder. Traditional fairytale meets science fiction in Marissa Meyer’s Cinder, the first novel in The Lunar Chronicles. Meyer brings new life to a classic tale that most people know like the back of their hands.
Cinder lives in the future in a city called New Beijing, home of humans, cyborgs, and androids. The city is plagued by a nasty disease coined letumosis which easily decimates much of the population. Cinder’s highly-skilled work in mechanics helps keep her step-family off of the poverty-stricken streets. When Prince Kai, the local ruler, comes to call on an urgent matter, her life turns topsy-turvy.
Cinder is one of the strongest female protagonists I have ever had the pleasure of reading in the young adult fiction genre. While she lacks knowledge about her past, she is very confident in her abilities and she possesses a highly intuitive personality. Cinder acknowledges her unfortunate situation as a ward to a selfish and uncaring stepmother, but she does not allow her problematic position to bring her down. She is her own hero.
I was also impressed by Meyer’s decision to provide Cinder with both a sympathetic stepsister, Peony, and an adoring female android, Iko. It is not often that so many female characters interact, let alone relate to each other on such a high level in modern young adult fiction. I found myself rooting for all three characters and hoping that their relationships blossomed.
While love interests seem to be guaranteed in this genre, I found the exchanges between Kai and Cinder to be refreshing and shockingly realistic. Love does not always happen right away, and often one’s attempts to woo another end rather horrifically, or in this case, hilariously.
On a more serious note, the novel addresses a few intriguing questions, including to what lengths must a society go to prevent a highly contagious disease from spreading? And how would it find a cure for the disease? Meyer touches on the fact that there are never easy answers to these questions, and when decisions are made lightly, people suffer greatly.
The fully-formed relationships between characters, the twist on the classic tale, and the developments related to letumosis left me devouring Cinder in only a few days. It is quite the page-turner, and I look forward to reading the rest of the four novels in the series.