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Book Review: Cinder By Marissa Meyer, a Cinderella Retelling

Book Review: Cinder By Marissa Meyer, a Cinderella Retelling

Cinder is the first in the Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer, a dystopian young adult series. Set in New Beijing, this is a Cinderella story retelling – with a twist. Our protagonist Cinder is not your average girl, in fact, she’s not a girl at all, she’s a Cyborg. After a terrible accident at the age of eleven, Cinder was left part human, part machine; but her history is shrouded in mystery and there are secrets to be uncovered.

When Prince Kai of New Beijing visits a mechanic’s workshop seeking the city’s best mechanic, he finds Cinder, not at all what he was expecting. Little did they know that this meeting would irrevocably change both of their lives and they’d find themselves in the middle of an intergalactic struggle. 

Cyborgs, androids, lunars, the plague – by all accounts this story just shouldn’t work. But it does. There’s a mishmash of half a dozen different individual plot points that one would never think of putting together for they would make a truly absurd story. Yet, here we have Cinder that does exactly that, but instead of being completely bonkers, it presents a story full of plot twists in a new world.

Cinder is a fantastic female protagonist that you will be rooting for from start to finish. She is deemed a second-class citizen because she is a Cyborg and her step mother will never let her forget it. Her step sisters have never had to work a day in their lives and their main focus is the royal ball. Meanwhile, Cinder spends every day stuck in her workshop, scraping pennies together for the whole family, but she doesn’t resent her sisters for this. Of course, Cinder would love to go to the ball (who wouldn’t?!), but she’s not obsessed with it at all. She’s accepted her lot in life and knows that pretty dresses and princes aren’t for her. This is the story of a hardy and head strong girl who is fighting for her freedom, not trying to tie herself down.

I love that there’s a nod to feminism in this story as Cinder is the most successful female mechanic in the city, amongst all the other girls who seem to just be vying for the prince’s attention. Certainly Cinder’s step mother is very focussed on how her daughters look and how that affects their ability to find a suitably rich husband. Cinder is the breadwinner of the family, singlehandedly supporting her poor family, but she is also kind and just, which makes her richer than her step mother will ever be. She is always willing to help those in need, but also seems unaware of just how kind and special she is, making you love her even more.

There is an element of romance in this story as Cinder starts to fall for the prince, but this is not at all the focal point of the story, which was a relief for me. There is nothing more annoying than a story in which the be all and end all is whether or not the boy gets the girl. Or in this case, the cyborg. I suspect the romance will be developed much more in the later books, but I am glad that the focus of the first novel was Cinder and her plight, rather than a teen romance.

One of the things that I loved most about Cinder is that it was set in New Beijing and not the US or the UK. I will admit there is a lot more diversity in books now than there used to be but we are still sorely lacking books set in non-Western countries in my opinion. Admittedly, the fact that we are in New Beijing doesn’t seem to have a huge impact on the plot bar the fact that many characters have Chinese names, but it is a step in the right direction. Chinese culture definitely could have been integrated into this novel a lot more, which I would have really enjoyed (Asians ftw!), but it was refreshing nevertheless to read a story set in a completely different place. And, you know, the Cyborgs and stuff.

I’m a sucker for fairy-tale retellings, which are becoming increasingly popular, and Cinder is definitely one of the best I have ever read. Cinderella with a sci-fi twist is something special and will keep you guessing with every page you turn. This is a truly unique fairy-tale retelling that does more than just tell another Cinderella story. This is the story of an outcast girl, desperately seeking freedom. She just happens to meet a prince along the way.

Buy Cinder by Marissa Meyer: 

Amazon | Book Depository | Waterstones | Foyles

Other fairy-tale retellings:

Drown by Esther Dalseno (The Little Mermaid)
Gretel and the Dark (Hansel and Gretel)

Have you read the Lunar Chronicles? Does this sound like something you’d like to read? Let me know in the comments below!

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Laura

Laura is a culture and travel blogger based in London. She studied French at Oxford University and now studies Law in London. She’s an avid reader and traveller and loves to combine the two with literary travel. Find her tips and reviews on the best reads, eats and destinations on whatshotblog.com.

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22 Comments

  1. 5th December 2016 / 8:10 PM

    Ok I want this book like yesterday, I am all about intergalactical wars and romance lol. I am getting this for christmas I am loving it.

  2. LaaLaa
    5th December 2016 / 8:19 PM

    How refreshing is that, I’m not that into fairytales books etc just hasn’t captured me in adulthood but I really like the retelling and difference with this book!

  3. Jo Wiggins
    5th December 2016 / 8:25 PM

    This wouldn’t be a book that I’d automatically pick up but I’m always open to trying something new and it does sound interesting x

  4. 5th December 2016 / 9:13 PM

    You have to read all of them! I loved this series so very much! She does take a lot of different plot points and inspirations and mixes them together. Even Star Wars – Han Solo and the Millenium Falcon. You’ll see!
    Rebecca @ The Portsmouth Review
    Follow me on Bloglovin’

  5. 5th December 2016 / 9:20 PM

    I have to admit as I first started reading your review I thought this would not be a book for me, but the more I read, you convinced me I should give it a read. I’m not usually into science fiction as a whole, but I think the sub plots will be interesting enough to hold my attention, and I’m always a sucker for the underdog.

  6. 5th December 2016 / 9:45 PM

    Sounds like an intriguing book! Love that the book revolves around a Cyborg. We love a good sci-fi read

  7. Melanie Edjourian
    5th December 2016 / 10:19 PM

    This sounds like a modern day twist to the story we all grew up with. I too love fairy tale retellings as I generally enjoy seeing the stories from a different perspective.

  8. Sarah D
    5th December 2016 / 11:13 PM

    I love these modern retelling of books we recall from childhood. Sounds great x

  9. 6th December 2016 / 4:12 AM

    I love takes on classic fairytales, especially since they’re always so outdated. I loved Drown, so will definitely be checking this out ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. 6th December 2016 / 9:45 AM

    I love fairy tale retellings so this sounds really interesting, definitely adding this to my wishlist x

  11. Elodie
    6th December 2016 / 10:05 AM

    This sounds like such an unusual book. I love Gregory Maguire’s retelling of original fairytales so this sounds right up my street! x

  12. 6th December 2016 / 10:49 AM

    I am a sucker for fairytale re-tellings as well and ‘cinders’ is definitely an exciting interpretation of the original.

  13. Hungry_Healthy_Happy
    6th December 2016 / 1:25 PM

    I love alternative fairytales, so this is one that I am definitely going to be checking out.

  14. Teresa Bowen
    6th December 2016 / 3:10 PM

    Very much enjoyed reading your review. I love retellings of fairy-tales that take the traditional and make the story modern. I hadn’t come across this one before but I will be putting it on my wish list.

  15. 6th December 2016 / 3:16 PM

    This sounds great! I really like the idea of a twist on a traditional fairytale.

  16. Beautyqueenuk
    6th December 2016 / 3:58 PM

    OOh sounds like an unusual book but with a nice twist on tradition, definitely one to look out for x

  17. 7th December 2016 / 2:42 PM

    This sounds like a great book. Would love to read it.

  18. Melissa Zia
    7th December 2016 / 8:29 PM

    Sounds like a great twist of a fairytale, sounds like a book my sister would read

  19. 7th December 2016 / 10:56 PM

    love the sci fi twist. i love anything with a twist and takes your mind outside a classic

  20. Ayesha Farhad
    8th December 2016 / 12:38 AM

    A friend of mine recommended this book and I absolutely loved it! Its truly an amazing read! x

  21. Annie Brooks
    8th December 2016 / 7:46 AM

    Not my kind of book to be honest I am very much a classic thriller/horror book reader… maybe I should branch out…

  22. 15th January 2017 / 2:57 PM

    I just finished this book a few days ago.
    I thought it was slow in the beginning.
    I’m currently reading Scarlet out of curiousity haha.

    I follow you on Instagram as @printsnpixels ๐Ÿ™‚
    http://snapsnpixels.blogspot.com/

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