Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Just a quick one this week. I’ve been flat out with school visits, parent visits and polishing the first five chapters of my manuscript for submission. Phew.

Cinder has been on my reading pile for a while now, but when Leanne Hall pegged it as her book of the year when we’re only in January I have to say I was intrigued. Now having read it, I’m not far off agreeing.

Cinder is an incredible opening to a new series of books – The Lunar Quartet which takes (in turns) on the stories of Cinderella, Rapunzel, Red Riding Hood and Snow White. But this isn’t your traditional overhaul of a fairy tale. There are no extended gothic remixes here, only cyborgs, aliens and humans in a world that has been shattered by war and plague.

Cinder has enough familiar moments that the original fairytale is clearly recognisable, but the slant of the story is totally unique. As a character Cinder is a striking new heroine for young adults. Part cyborg, she is essentially a slave to her wicked stepmother who treats her as though she is less than human. She is working as a mechanic in the marketplace when an outbreak of the plague strikes. It is a viscous plague which is attacking all of the citizens, and worse the Emperor. To cure the Emperor’s illness, Cyborgs are being involuntarily drafted as test subjects for a cure. None have survived.

This isn’t a magical tale where a fairy godmother sweeps in and makes everything better with a wave of her wand. Cinder is a striking, independent character who makes her own luck – and not all of it good. There is more to compare between the novel and traditional fairy tales – which have their fair share of suffering – than with the popular sanitised versions in films and cartoons.

The only major fault with Cinder is in the ending. This is very clearly part of a quartet, and readers who speed through the pages hoping to be rewarded with a conclusion may be disappointed. If you tend to be impatient I would recommend waiting for the full series to be releases before picking this one up. If you like to have something to look forward to though, then give this a go. An extremely rewarding piece of speculative fiction.

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