April 10, 2012

Title:  Cinder

Author: Marissa Meyer

Published: January 2012

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.

Have you ever read a book at the same time as a friend?  Have you ever want to just sit down and have a chat about it?  Ya…us too!!

Ana: So…Cinder….first big question….what shelf?

Jag: It was close but I’m going with the second shelf.

Ana: I agree, second shelf for me too!

Jag: I went in with zero expectations and have to admit I was pleasantly surprised.

Characters: The ‘Good Guys’

Ana: I liked a lot of the characters in the story. My favorite, though, was Cinder’s pal Iko.  In the movie, Cinderella has mice (lol) but here she has a great android sidekick who’s totally “human”.

Jag: I loved Iko too.  Prince Kai was pretty swoony, what did you think?

Ana: Prince Kai…hubba hubba…he was totally dreamy. I would love to know more about him though.  I almost felt like I didn’t get enough of him.  I would also have liked to see him get more emotional about his dad.

Jag: I agree totally, not enough about Kai and I think that may have affected the unresolved sexual tension between him and Cinder. I would have liked to see their scenes smoulder a little more. I wish we had learned more about Peony, too.  Her relationship with Cinder was a key point in the story.

Ana: Smoulder is always good but maybe we’ll get more in the second book.  Peony was such a great character. She was independent, feisty and loved Cinder regardless of her awful mother. I loved how she ran down to see Cinder wearing her dress and didn’t care that it got dirty!

Jag: Me too. I was so drawn to her, I really wanted more of her but it wasn’t in the cards. I really loved the strength of Cinder. Cinder is independent. She deals with her situation with a resolve that’s admirable. She doesn’t make you feel sorry for her, her life just is what it is.

Ana: Agreed! And I also liked that Cinder had a plan.  She wasn’t sitting around feeling sorry for herself, she was planning for her future and that made me like her even more. Maybe that’s why the author chose to make the relationship build a little slower and less smouldery (yes, that’s a word…in my own mind).  She didn’t want Cinder to lose track of her plans just because she was head over heels for a guy.

Jag: That’s a very good point. She was always looking to her future and I mean she probably thought she didn’t stand a chance with the prince being a Cyborg and all.

Ana: That was the only thing she wasn’t “strong” about…she was (I struggle for the right word here) ashamed?!?!? of being a cyborg and seemed to dislike that part of herself. But again, our Cinder couldn’t be a totally confident chick because that goes against the story we all love.

Jag: I could sense while I was reading that she was special, that she had abilities that other cyborgs didn’t but she kept quiet about them, like with her lie detector.

Ana: Yes…we got small clues throughout the book about how special she was even though she felt herself to be just a cyborg…just a mechanic. Her humanity alone was proof enough that she was special among “typical” cyborgs.

Ana: Another thing I found interesting is that in Cinderella I always assume that she falls for him first…she’s the one who’s more smitten.  But in this book I think it was Prince Kai who really was head over heels for this mystery girl…I loved it!!  He wanted her!!!

Jag: He did! And he really pursued her but Cinder never believed he would accept who she really was.

Characters: The ‘Villains’

Ana: How about that evil Lunar queen…dang…she was awful. Never trust someone who can’t look at themselves in a mirror!!

Jag: I loved the Lunar element of the story, so unique. The queen was something nasty.

Ana: I actually wish we learned more about the Lunar people but I’m thinking that’s being saved for book 2

Jag: Good point, I think we’re really going to get immersed in that side of the story in the next book.

Ana: I hated that step mother too…quite a piece of work.  I didn’t like that she kept insisting that Cinder couldn’t feel emotion because she was cyborg when, in reality she was totally human on that side of things. The way Cinder treated Iko and Peony with such love, no matter what the situation, was lovely!

Jag: Yep the step mom was classic Cinderella

The Story

Jag: I thought the book had a great pace; it moved well through the plot and never lagged for me. I didn’t skim which is something I tend to do. Every day I looked forward to tucking in with this book and continuing on the journey.

Ana: I found it a bit slow in the beginning but not enough to be distracting and certainly the ending was fast-moving. I kept thinking that I couldn’t possibly be near the end because it wasn’t ending where I “assumed” it would. The author held true to the original plot just enough but added freshness that made it new.

Jag: I agree. There were subtle changes and twists on the original story, like Cinder’s cyborg foot as a parallel to the glass slipper. A fresh twist that carried throughout the book.  Cinder was on a mission to find her happily ever after and she wasn’t waiting for someone else to make it happen, she took control and was getting it for herself.

Final Thoughts

Ana: The writing was good…very smooth and clear…descriptive but not overly so. I wish we’d learned more about New Beijing though!

Jag: I kind of thought the setting in New Beijing seemed odd, rather random. I would love to know why the author chose it.

Ana: Yes, me too! I probably would have set this story in Europe since it seems like the logical place for a Cinderella story…which is probably why I’m not a published author I guess.

Jag: Any final thoughts?

Ana: This story is timeless and I think the author treated it with care…I didn’t feel that my beloved fairy tale had been butchered in any way. The “big twist” didn’t surprise me at all, but that didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the book.  The twists were fresh but there was still enough of the tradition for me to feel comfortable. I think that’s why this story will work for all ages. I bought it for my 13 year old niece and she is (in her words) “totally hooked”.

Good authors can take a well-known story and put a new spin on it without alienating the traditionalists and I think Meyer did that!

Jag: Well said!

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