Goodreads | AmazonThe premise for this story is so outlandish and creative and amazing that I've been 'Waiting on' it for what seems like years. So I was really thrilled when my parents bought the Kindle version as a present a few weeks ago :).
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.
Cinder had an amazing starting point. I mean, who can go past a fairytale retelling featuring Cinderella as a cyborg and a mechanic in New Beijing? I also have a personal fascination with China, Chinese food, and Beijing, so I was really looking forward to the setting.
Unfortunately, many parts of this story fell short of my expectations.
Marissa Meyer's writing had nothing to do with my disappointments. She has the clean style of many YA writers, a way of sucking readers into the story without over-embellishing her sentences. The writing was so enjoyable and so natural to read that I was instantly pulled into this world. However, there was one problem.
I couldn't see the world, no matter how hard I tried.
There aren't enough descriptions of what goes on in New Beijing. Without the author saying that it was a New Beijing, I wouldn't even have known that this story was set in some distant future in China. While there were some references to wontons and dumpling stores, the world development which is so important in dystopians was virtually absent. There are also so many current issues happening in Beijing--the one child policy, the pollution, the politics, what it's going to be like so many years after Cultural Revolution. This could've been a brilliant addition to the novel, but the author didn't use it as a driving point at all. In fact, I envisioned New Beijing as more of a junkyard than a new China. This was one of the serious letdowns.
There was also virtually no suspense to the story, since I had pretty much guessed what was going to happen no more than halfway through the novel. It was all too obvious for me.
Another thing was Cinder's relationship with Peony. Since the spoiler-y event happens fairly early in the book, I'm not going to go through the trouble of putting this in spoiler tags, but if you're planning to read Cinder in the near future and don't want spoilers, skip the next paragraph. I'll tell you when to look back :D.
So basically, I get that Peony gets infected with the plague. And despite me feeling sympathy for her since she's the only person who's nice to Cinder, the problem is that we didn't spend long enough knowing her and learning about her to really feel about this event. I think their relationship should have been developed further before the infection and everything happened.
Okay, you can look back now.
Now the good.
Iko--oh Iko. He/she was so darn adorable. I wanted to cuddle him, gangly machine parts and all. Honestly, since when do you get androids that are so freaking cute? I hate to admit this, but he was my favourite character in the story. LOVE, guys.
Prince Kai seemed kind of...shallow for most of the story, but he since he was good looking and nice, I guess he'd make a pretty perfect love interest for most people. You might like him, but I didn't find him a very real character, just a cardboard cut-out, and therefore undesirable.
Overview: The writing was very enjoyable, the characters were likeable, and I absolutely adored Iko the android. I initially intended to give this book four stars, but soon realised that there was so much missing from it. There was virtually no world-building and not much suspense. This book had so much potential but once I got over the absorbing writing, I realised there wasn't much substance behind the story. Three and a half stars. I wish I could've given it more.