Genres: sci-fi; YA; re-telling
Why I read it: Everyone seems to love it and it’s been sitting on my shelf for a couple of years. I also used it for “A series you want to read (start and finish)” for the New Year’s Resolution Book Tag, even though I only had book one, and it was one of the books I referenced for the #RockMyTBR Challenge.
Who I’d recommend it to: People who really love re-tellings of fairy tales and are interested in seeing that done in sci-fi instead of fantasy.
My rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
What it’s about:
Sixteen-year-old Cinder is considered a technological mistake by most of society and a burden by her stepmother. Being cyborg does have its benefits, though: Cinder’s brain interference has given her an uncanny ability to fix things (robots, hovers, her own malfunctioning parts), making her the best mechanic in New Beijing. This reputation brings Prince Kai himself to her weekly market booth, needing her to repair a broken android before the annual ball. He jokingly calls it “a matter of national security,” but Cinder suspects it’s more serious than he’s letting on.
Although eager to impress the prince, Cinder’s intentions are derailed when her younger stepsister, and only human friend, is infected with the fatal plague that’s been devastating Earth for a decade. Blaming Cinder for her daughter’s illness, Cinder’s stepmother volunteers her body for plague research, an “honor” that no one has survived.
But it doesn’t take long for the scientists to discover something unusual about their new guinea pig. Something others would kill for.
Meh. I have been so excited for this book since it came out back in 2012, but I waited (and waited and waited and…) for the series to be finished before I started it. Then I waited a while longer so I might be able to buy the rest of the books as soon as I finished Cinder to binge read the whole thing. Well, I’m glad I didn’t buy the rest before I read this one, because I’m not sure I’ll finish this series. (I did check out the next two from the library, though.)
I was expecting more from this book. I didn’t have super high expectations, but this really let me down. I wanted more world building, and more culture, maybe more complex characters and less predictability. Maybe that happens in the next book(s), but I feel like it’s becoming a trend that the first book in a series I read leaves me feeling like something was missing in the world building and such.
Cinder was an ok character. I liked that she wasn’t a damsel in distress, and she got things done on her own instead of sitting around waiting for someone else to save her. She was a good character, and I feel like the “not a girly-girl” thing was done pretty well, but I feel like there was way too much emphasis on making her as human as possible. I know, it’s probably important for the story, but I kind of want to see cyborgs who are a little inhuman, if you know what I mean, especially since they’re viewed so negatively in this world. I want a reason for that, and one isn’t given. I expected it to be because cyborgs really are “other,” in more ways than their anatomy, but that didn’t seem to be the case.
My favorite character was Iko, hands down. That little android, omg. I want a novella or something from her POV. I think she replaced all the mice from the Disney Cinderella (sorry, I haven’t read the fairy tale in so long I don’t remember if they were in it, too), but she was more endearing, at least for me. But, Cinderella was always one of my least favorite fairy tales, so maybe that’s why.
Kai was actually not bad, which I liked. He wasn’t one of those creepy YA love interests who stalk or manipulate the heroine, and he seemed like an actual good guy. Thumbs up for Kai. But, I also feel like he was a little flat and could have been fleshed out more. I liked him, but I wanted to know more about who he is.
One stepsister I loved, and that was not fair, ugh. The other was horrible and what you would expect if you know anything about Cinderella. Same goes for the stepmother. I wanted to shove both of them off a cliff.
I feel like Levana was just a “bad guy” for the sake of being “bad.” She was pretty one-dimensional for me, and I didn’t really care at all about her or what she was doing. I’m hoping to feel differently after reading the next book, though.
New Beijing is described as being something of a melting pot of different cultures, and I think it was mentioned that there are cultures that don’t even exist anymore in Cinder’s world. I want to know more about that! I hate it when facts like that are just dropped in and there’s no explanation (or, in this case, there was a war…that’s the explanation). I want to know what happened along the way to make New Beijing what it is in this world, which cultures were combined (and how) to create the current one, etc. Actually, I just want to see some culture. I mean, I’m white and American and I’ve never been to any other country, but this whole thing felt very white and like it could be set anywhere. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I missed something, so please let me know if I did.
I just wanted more from this story. I don’t know why cyborgs are viewed as less than human (I know, they’re part machine or whatever, but why do people hate them so much?), I don’t know anything about the laws and things that are cyborg specific, I don’t know much at all about the world and how people colonized the moon and why they’re so different from people down here. These are probably things that are explained later, but that’s kind of a pet peeve of mine. I don’t need the full history, but I’d like to not come out of a first book with more questions than answers. At least some brief coverage of this stuff would have been nice.
Nothing really surprised me in this book, either. I knew exactly how it was going to play out very early on. That’s not enough to make me lower my rating or enjoy it much less, but it didn’t help, either. I’m not going to judge it too harshly for the particular trope used (if you’ve read it, you know what I mean) because I think this might have come out before that trope got super popular. I’m not sure, though. Anyway, it didn’t impress me and kind of bored me, and I wish there had been an actual twist at the end.
Overall, I just thought Cinder was just “ok.” I am going to at least try to read the rest of the series, and I’m hoping to enjoy the other books more. I don’t think this is going to be one I recommend to many people, though.