Cinder by Marissa Meyer

*This review does contain some spoilers.*

“Imagine there was a cure, but finding it would cost you everything. It would completely ruin your life. What would you do?”

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Synopsis from GoodreadsHumans 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.

Feelings: I wanted to re-read this series before the final installment came out. It’s been 3 years since I read Cinder and I honestly didn’t remember any details about what happened in this first book. I’ve already read the other 2 full length novels, as well as the novella.

I really enjoyed this book. It’s really entertaining and Marissa Meyer is a great writer. While some of it was predictable, it still had some surprising elements and a few little twisty turns. In the case of this book, the predictability wasn’t annoying or disappointing. It felt like a mystery and we got clues from start to finish, yet there are still a lot of missing pieces to the puzzle.

Characters: I’ve read quite a few books lately that have a LOT of main characters, so reading this was a shift for me, but I ultimately enjoyed both Cinder and Kai’s development. Because this is the first book in a series, I can tell that we didn’t even get a fraction of character possibility that we’ll get as the series moves along. Now, the fact that Cinder is really Princess Selene was no surprise. When she has nightmares about fire, we’d just learned that Selene was believed to have been killed in a fire…so it seemed like there was a connection there. Then, when Queen Levana is headed towards Earth, Dr. Erlund was all YOU HAVE TO LEAVE RIGHT NOW BEFORE SHE SEES YOU and my brain receptors went alert, alert…she’s totes Princess Selene and Erlund knows stuff. We know who she is, but there’s so much other crap she’s going to have to figure out…so it’s like not oh, she’s Selene THE END.

At first, I didn’t love Prince Kai because I kept wondering where he got all this free time to hang out with Cinder. And, I got annoyed with how much attitude he spouted at WORLD LEADERS, which seemed childish. But then, he became just a human guy at some point in the middle of the book and I was rooting for him. He’s just a young guy whose parents are gone and he’s got a lot of weight on his shoulders. I felt bad for him at the end when he had some tough decisions to make – mature decisions. He ended up growing up a lot in the span of 150 pages.

Iko, bless you, you sweet little andriod. She’s like that cute little sidekick/best friend character that you love, but you don’t expect to spout earth shattering wisdom at any point. #SaveIko

Queen Levana is Queen of the Cray. I read Fairest earlier this year, so some of her background was fresh in my mind. It was interesting to go back and read Cinder with that new lens. I now know why she is the way she is, so it was very telling to re-read the events in this book.

Comparisons: The world building reminded me a lot of the short-lived TV show Firefly. There’s a great blending of Eastern and Western ideals, clothing, and culture just like in the show. I didn’t make that connection the first time I read this book.

I liked how this retelling operated. It wasn’t a direct, page-by-page retelling of the classic Cinderella story. There was a nice blend of multiple versions of the Cinderella story, too, which I really enjoyed. Cinder drives an orange car to the ball which she said looked like a “rotting pumpkin” and when she ran away from the ball, her mechanical foot detached in a very glass slipper-y way, aligning with the Disney version of the fairy-tale. One aspect I enjoyed about this retelling was that we got a more grounded prince, as opposed to the vapid prince charming character we see so often. The retelling aspect of Cinder was my favorite thing about this book. I love a good fairy tale retelling and this is one of the best ones I’ve read.

Final thoughts: In the end, I thought this book was fresh and entertaining. It’s different from anything else I’ve read, which is always a plus. If you don’t usually get into the science fiction genre, this is a great book to start with. As for YA, this book is exactly what the genre needs. It’s not saturated in foul language or sexual innuendoes, but it’s also not on the too much end of the spectrum (cheesy and empty). This story has depth, well developed world building, and a lot of room to grow. I highly recommend this book, as well as the rest of the series!

Other great fairy tale retellings:

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine (Cinderella)

Enchanted by Alethea Kontis (The Frog Princes…and some others)

Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George (The 12 Dancing Pincesses)

Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis (Snow White)

 

Goodreads rating: 4.14/5

Amazon.com rating: 4.6/5

My rating: 4.75/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

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For Darkness Shows the Stars

“Before the Reduction, there were two kinds of people: people who trusted in God to make mankind in His own image, and people who thought they could do better than God. The first kind of people were my ancestors, the Luddites.”

When I first picked For Darkness Shows the Stars up, the only thing I knew about it was that it was based on Jane Austen’s Persuasion. That happens to be the only Austen novel I haven’t read, so I was curious.

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Synopsis: This is is the story of Elliot North, a Luddite girl in a dystopian society. In this world, history is filled with tales of the Lost, people who tried to create new versions of plants and animals. The Lost also found ways to improve upon themselves – their own bodies and limitations. The Luddites refused these new innovations and experimentations, retreating into caverns and sanctuaries until the time of Reduction was over. The children born during this time were simple, lacking the ability to string too many words together and unable, in the Luddite opinion, to take care of themselves. These children were called the Reduced. The Luddites reemerged into society to care for the Reduced, bringing them onto their estates (that read like plantations) to work and live as servants. As the years went on, a third group of people emerged- the Children of the Reduction, or Post-Reductionists. These people were seemingly just like the Luddites – returned to a full and normal status. Some stayed with their Reduced parents, while others fled to Post Enclaves. Elliot and her family are estate landholders with many Post and Reduced living and working their lands.

This novel centers around Elliot and her relationship with an old, Post friend – Kai. Four years prior to the main storyline, Kai left the estate to try and build a better life for himself. Kai wanted Elliot to leave with him, but she didn’t. She stayed because let’s face it, she’s really in charge of the estate’s operations. Her father, Baron North, cares more for his own vanity than his family lands.

The timeline flips back and forth between letters from their past and chapters of their present, filling in blanks as the pages turn.

Feelings: I really enjoyed the world building and felt like Diana Peterfreund did an amazing job with this society. We are able to dig into their history and traditions, changes in their norms, and see glimpses of the future, all while deeply connecting to numerous characters.

Characters: The first few pages gripped me and I was hooked until the very end. Elliot is passionate and strong – a forceful female lead that YA lit needs more of. She speaks her mind and follows her convictions, yet she isn’t perfect. Lord knows I love me some faulted characters. She does what is unexpected for the good of those who rely on her.

I’m one of those annoying people who can almost always predict how something will end. This book, however, was filled with twists and turns that got me good. I’m still in shock over some of the little twisty moments, but I’m not angry about it. Some stories take a turn for dramatic effect and to strategically lead into a sequel. This story had natural dips and curves that were beautifully done.

This books is one of the best written stories I think I’ve ever read. I’d recommend it to everyone.

Pick this up if you liked:

Mythology, astronomy, caste system struggles, and love that makes you melt.

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski (similar worlds and female leads)

Across the Universe by Beth Revis (they all tinker with food and affect reproduction; similar themes)

Goodreads rating: 3.92/5

Amazon.com rating: 4.3/5

My rating: 5/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn