Oct 24, 2012

Cinder, by Marissa Meyers


Disclaimer: All reviews are the result of my personal opinion from a Christian stand-point. These reviews are provided for those who share my beliefs and morals, to help guide what fiction a reader may wish to pick up. For those who do not share these beliefs, please refrain from hateful comments. It is due to rude commenting that I must now include this note prior to all reviews. For more information, visit my purpose behind this blog. Thank you for your understanding.

Summary:
Intended Age-Group: 12+
Issues of Violence: action violence, gun shooting, dagger usage.
Intimacy Level: low and appropriate
Swearing: d*** it.
Recommendation: yes, 5 out of 5 stars 


Holy Ka-la-ma-zoo,
I have another five-star review
This is not common,
No, it's quite rare,
So pick it up if you dare,
But let me warn you, be prepared,
For it will blow your mind. 



The quality of my poem proves that poetry is not my forte (or desire, for that matter). The content of the poetry, however, should speak volumes. 
Blurb:
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.
Book Trailer:


Initial Reaction: *****
Cinder, by Marissa Meyer, started out with multiple strikes against my reading tastes. It's another Cinderella story (overdone), the main character, Cinder, is a cyborg (I didn't even know/care what that was); the story is set in New Bejing, China (I'm just not into Asian culture very much), and it's a spacey technology futuristic science fiction novel. I wasn't interested...until my little sister (with identical reading taste to me) read it in 6 hours and gushed about it until she completely shriveled up.
My time is precious, so I hesitated to pick up "just any book"; therefore, I read practically all 394 Amazon reviews before accepting my sister's copy. Others said, "This isn't usually my type of book, but I loved it!" I'm thrilled to follow suit.

Simply put, Cinder is spectacular. It's in-depth, thought-provoking, believable, hard-core, clean, and as original as a re-done fairytale can get.

Characters: *****
As fairytale-esque as the original Cinderella story is, Marissa Meyer brings Cinder into a strangely realistic light (though set in a stretched fascinating science-fiction future). Cinder's personality reads like a real person plastered on paper. Her reactions are believable and her humor is tactful and very realistic. The animosity with the stepmother and Cinder is very natural, the relationship and interest that grows between Prince Kai and Cinder is believable and doesn't just happen with a single glass-slipper dance, and Cinder is a fully-developed unique character whom I'd love to meet. She's a "go-getter" instead of a reactor. What I loved most was, though her raw torn life slowly broke my heart, she never allowed her heart to break so much that it crippled her; instead, she pushed herself into action again and again, seeking what she knew must be right. She didn't just lay down to be trampled. She also wasn't a completely innocent complacent maid who sang to her pet mice. She was believable because she had sass, purpose, determination, and fear.

Prince Kai was also a delightful character. Though he's a good-looking eighteen-year-old prince, he doesn't automatically have the tact a good ruler needs. It's clear that he's in an odd mixture of having to jump into adulthood while wanting to embrace and enjoy the small joys of young manhood (like crushes, sarcasm, and personal choices). I appreciated the fact that he wasn't instantaneously politically correct. His adviser corrected him quite often and I, as a reader, could see that Prince Kai needed a little correction. I watched him grow as a man and a leader, struggling with responsibility and desire.  Prince Kai had impressive dynamic.

I can't begin to enter how thoroughly all the other characters were developed, but I was never left wanting.

Plot: *****
Cinder stayed true to the general outline of the Cinderella story, but still held a full plot of its own. Cinder's life didn't revolve around the ball or the prince, it had greater meaning: fighting against the plague, pursuing freedom, and being faithful to her country are only a few. I discovered the world of New Bejing--the prejudices, the "norm", the needs, and the hope of the people in good things. Every chapter left me turning a page without so much as a clock-check. It's believable and constantly moving. Not once did I feel a drag or roll my eyes at a boring twist.

Something I greatly appreciated about the author's delivery of this book deals with predictability. A few plot points were predictable, but the writing sent the message that Meyer knew some things were predictable and it was okay that the reader could predict them. She didn't insult my intelligence by expecting me to be "shocked" when facts I suspected were revealed. These predictable plot lines did not drive the story--a rare, but greatly appreciated form of writing.

On the romance front, it's much more realistic than the typical three-days-to-fall-in-love story. The questions Cinder asks herself about relationship are strangely accurate to the doubtful hope that young teenagers address. Prince Kai, of course, is charming and handsome with giggling fan clubs who wonder in squeaky voices about his schedule and whisper about him "being in the nude". It's funny, petty, and strangely accurate to today's obsessions with actors (only often we don't have to "wonder" too much compared to some shamelessness on screen). His interaction with Cinder is endearing and still believable.

Writing Style: *****
Marissa Meyer's writing style was as clean-cut as a handsome prince. It was fresh with new descriptions, while staying clear enough for a smooth flow. Descriptions were woven into the story without large distracting chunks. The use and choice of words took me to deeper understanding in each situation instead of bogging me down with forced "author-voice." So refreshing!



Other:
Overall, it's clean other than a swear word or two that remain on the mild side. "Scary moments" consist of more intense scenes than shoot 'em up, blood and gore moments. The evil queen and her guards from the moon have the ability to control minds to an extent and often threaten people with this power. For example, forcing a woman to poise a dagger at her own eye with the intent of having her gouge it out herself or forcing a character to level a gun at her own head with the intent to force her to shoot herself. All description remains appropriate while still carrying the story, the moment, and the intensity.

Spiritual Content: *****
On the spiritual front, statues of Buddha are seen around the Palace in New Bejing. There is no  mention of the religion behind it or others following it. Cinder doesn't seem to have or follow any sort of religion and there are no spiritual themes (Christian or other) portrayed through the book.

Overall Recommendation:
This book was phenomenal. All I can say is, READ IT.  Or, if you're the audiobook type, click here for a clip provided by Macmillan Audio of the first few pages.





Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She writes stories about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her debut dystopian novel, A Time to Die, released September 2014 from Enclave Publishing. When Nadine's not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she is out pursuing adventures. She currently lives in Idaho with her husband. You can find out more about Nadine and her books at http://nadinebrandes.com.

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