A Cyborg Cinderella…..Book Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

The screw through cinder’s ankle had rusted, the engraved cross marks worn to a mangled circle. Her knuckles ached from forcing the screwdriver into the joint as she struggled to loosen the screw one gritting twist after another. By the time it was extracted far enough for her to wrench free with her prosthetic steel hand, the hairline threads had been stripped clean.

Tossing the screwdriver onto the table, Cinder gripped her heel and yanked the foot from its socket. A spark singed her fingertips and she jerked away, leaving the foot to dangle from a tangle of red and yellow wires.

She slumped back with a relieved groan. A sense of release hovered at the end of those wires— freedom. Having loathed the too- small foot for four years, she swore to never put the piece of junk back on again. She just hoped Iko would be back soon with its replacement. (Meyer, p. 3)

Cinder isn’t your modern day Cinderella tale—in fact, Cinder has a secret that only a few people in her community of New Beijing know: She’s a cyborg. But being a cyborg has afforded Cinder with a job. She is the best mechanic in all of New Beijing at the age of 17 years old. Adopted by a scientist and inventor from Europe, Cinder is left to fend for herself after her father’s death, stuck with her stepmother, Adri, and two sisters, Peony and Pearl.

If you follow my tweets at all, you would know that I was initially ANNOYED to the max with this book. Like, maxed out in my annoyance. The book starts too quicky into it’s futuristic jargon. Dates are labeled “T.E”, terms like “cyborg”, “netscreen”, “portscreen”, “android”, etc. are used within the first chapter. In my opinon, it was a little stereotypically science fiction. Meyer did little to clarify many things. We don’t even get a description of Cinder’s appearance, which I need when I read a book. The only background we get is that it’s in the future and in China.

Cinder meets the prince, Kaito aka. Kai, when he comes to her booth at the market to get his android fixed. Kai jokes that there is some top secret information on the android, but Cinder, who has a computer interface implanted in her brain, can tell that he is lying and there actually IS top secret information on the android. We are also introduced to the Plague aka. letumosis aka. The Blue Plague in this chapter. Prince Kai is nice and I think it was cool of Meyer to have Cinder meet him early, but througout the whole novel, the dialogue with him is terrible. She gave him a terrible, sarcastic sense of humor that is so far from royal it’s not funny. It read a little bit like, “I want to inject some humor in my novel, but I am not sure how to do it, so I’ll do bad sarcasm.” I guess, for a teen novel, it might be funny because their sense of humor is developing, but as an adult reading it, I wasn’t too keen.

After meeting the prince and seeing a neighboring stall be burned down to avoid the plague, Cinder goes home and we meet her family for the first time. Typical to Cinderella, Adri the stepmother, is awful. Pearl, the eldest step sister is also a piece of work and rather underdeveloped. Peony, the youngest at 14, is actually friends of Cinder. She is prince crazy and follows Cinder to the junk yard the night after the run in with the prince to talk about the experience. It is here Peony contracts the blue plague. In an act of malice, Adri banishes Cinder to the palace’s research facility to look for a cure for the plague where Cinder is sure to die. She blames Cinder for infecting Peony, even though we learn Cinder has never been or will never be infected due to either her cyborness or something else—her mysterious past.

But she doesn’t die. At this point in the book, perspectives shift. We get Dr. Erland’s perspective. Apparently, he’s been accused of only wanting young women as his research subjects. I thought he was a creep, but it actually makes a lot of sense when the book ends. We also get Kai’s perspective as he deals with the death of his father and become emperor. I am not crazy about the name Kai…..it reminded me of Matched, I guess? I just feel that Ky/Kai/Ki is an easy fall back for a futuristic name. Oh well. Kai is also dealing with a peace agreement with the Lunar colony on the Moon. They are made out to have some biological magic control something and are really cruel and trick you into thinking they are prettier than they are.

The story then starts to develop a little more. Queen Levana comes to earth to propose a peace treaty to Kai in exchange for him marrying her. Cinder learns of her heritage and is warned NOT to be around the castle. Kai and Cinder develop a weird little thing. Cinder figures out what the android is hiding…..and it is information that made me go, “Holy crap! I think she might be a princess!” That’s when I wanted to keep reading. I cannot confirm or deny the accuracy of my assumption, but the rest of the book was a really easy point once I was hooked in on that story element. I would say if you are selling this to someone or a student, capitalize on the fact that there is a big mystery that needs to be solved. It’s also interesting to see the Cyborgness of Cinder and how she hides that from Kai and deals with being an outcast.

Overall, the ending was really disappointing. It was a total cliff hanger. I’m also almost positive that there isn’t a second book. I think the second book, Scarlet, is a companion novel, but it does not feature Cinder as the main character. Scarlet has to do with little red riding hood and the newest book, Cress, deals with Rapunzel. I am actually sure you meet Cress in Cinder because they discuss a girl with impossibly long hair and she is trapped in a satellite. I will finish reading this series simply to see what becomes of Levana and Cinder and Kai, but it wasn’t my best read of the year. Actually, I guess it was the best and worst because it’s the only book I have read. This probably isn’t a book I’d readily volunteer to people to read, but if a kid needs a book suggestion, I would suggest it to them.

Rating: 3.5 Owls
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Why I liked it:
Once I got to the “Is Cinder the hidden Princess?” revelation, I had to keep reading!

Why my kids like it:
The updated Cinderella tale in conjunction with the trendy science fiction/dystopian feel make it a hot hit.

Quick and Dirty, 160 Character Review:
Retell of Cinderella in the future. Little exposition and a lot of sci-fi jargon. Once is I had my “OMG” moment, I had to finish reading.

Image from barnesandnoble.com

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Happy Reading in the New Year!

–Miss Wyoming


Book Review: In the After by Demitria Lunetta

Have you ever been really curious as to what would happen if aliens invaded Earth? I can’t say I was until I read this book. It was recommended to me by a co-worker that I trust in her book taste and then again by my school’s librarian. Set in the not-so-far-off future of the United States, Lunetta’s debut novel, In the After, is a strong introduction into life after the apocalypse.

The main character, Amy, splits her life into two separate parts–The Before and The After. The book jumps pretty quickly into the After portion. We get a glimpse into her life before–Mom has a max-security clearance job with the government and Dad is an environmentalist hippie. Amy is just your run of the mill everyday, average teen. Until They show up one day while she’s watching the news.

As I was reading the beginning of this book, I kept thinking “There is no way this is going to be like, 400 and some pages. All the action is happening now!” Within the first 50 pages, we meet Them (the pea green, human flesh craving aliens that have come to Earth), Amy finds a baby she names Baby in a supermarket, and there are some pretty near death experiences. Initially, this instant set up with jarring to me—I felt like the climax of the story happened every couple of pages, but as I neared the end of section 1, it made more sense.

Commence section two–Amy and Baby have been living for three years together in the dark, in silence. It was pretty convenient, in terms of alien attacks, that Amy’s dad had built a rooftop garden, installed solar panels, and constructed a rainwater shed water system so the girls had power, food, and running water the whole time. This is the only major detail I disliked in the book. Amy and Baby are forced to leave their home (I cannot tell you why, but it does contribute to a major twist ending) and are picked up by black clad figures that initially seem to be more aliens. The girls learn that they are not and are taken to a place called New Hope, a university that survived the alien attacks formerly known as Husten-Prime.

In my humble opinion, this is where things got a wee bit hairy for me. Things start to pick up at bit in this section. Amy meets a strapping young lad that, despite any major romantic gestures or relationship development on Lunetta’s part, is taken by Amy within 50 pages of meeting her even though she has an ugly hair cut. There are also a set of doctor’s that are out to protect the community at any cost and there is a weird group of teenagers that are allowed to sit all day and think about ways to make New Hope better.

Then…..in my opinion, it happens. The story magically shifts to italic fonts. It’s clearly Amy speaking, but readers do not know where she is or what she is doing. Then it switches back. It does this for a lot of the section. It gets pretty old after a while, I will admit. At first it’s intriguing–Amy is going on about doctors testing her brain, she is drugged, etc. After a while though, I got to the point where I’m like JUST FREAKING TELL ME ALREADY WHERE SHE IS! It does tell you (in section 3).

The book goes on to follow Amy in her discovery of the mysteries of New Hope and her decision to become a guardian, which ultimately separates her from Baby. I haven’t spent much time on the relationship between Amy and Baby, but it’s really important to both this book and the next book. Amy would die to save Baby or kill anyone to save her. As her only companion for 3 years in silence during the apocalypse, I understand the attachment complete. Lunetta really established this and you come to love Baby. She’s innocent and sweet, but smart and has really uncanny hearing. Amy is painstakingly pulled away from Baby as she becomes a Guardian, a position that allows her to fight Floraes and avoid the law that states all women are to have babies every three years until they are 40—ew, gross, I know.

I can’t reveal too many details about section three, but this is where the weird narration and the regular story meet back up. You really are going to hate Doctor Reynolds here. There are also three pretty major twists in this section and some guests to New Hope. Despite how annoying the whole Ward situation is, this section was really awesome. I was reading during class and I kept gasping as each twist happened. They are so stinking major it hurts! I think that is what got all my kids wanting to read it. I pose the question as I leave you—Is it really an alien novel?

Rating: 4 Owls

Why I liked it:
It’s a good book for the simple fact that it is different from anything I have read before. Some how though, it pulled back around to YA lit’s dystopian trend and that really worked for me. I’m also impressed that this was Lunetta’s debut book. It was a really strong entry into the world of author-ness(?). It was a can’t-put-down novel in a lot of respects.

Why my kids liked it:
Well, they are still reading it, so I can’t tell you right now. But I’m sure it will be for same reasons I did.

Quick and Dirty, 160 Character Review:
Great debut from Lunetta. Book is interesting and packed with lots of twists. With 3 sections and instant action, it keeps you sucked in!

Image from Barnes & Noble

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Happy Reading!

-Miss Wyoming