'You know you've read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend.' ~ Paul Sweeney

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Cinder 

Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: MacMillan's Feiwel and Friends
Publication Date: January 3, 2012

Available in Paperback, Hardcover, Audiobook and by Download

I often find books simply by personal recommendation, but since joining this year's NaNoWriMo session, I find that talking about writing on my social media sites like Facebook and Twitter seem to result in the sites recommending things to me. This series happens to be one of those. 

You're never supposed to judge a book by its cover, but I often find that the books I enjoy most are those with fantastical cover art. Since I love any sort of fairy tale with a twist, the sponsored feed on Facebook that kept suggesting the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer continued to capture my attention until I was forced to do something about it. I may be thirty-something, but I adore Young Adult fiction, and this series had the potential to be right up my alley.

Turns out, Facebook knew my taste pretty well. It's that time of year when we're all strapped for cash and so instead of impulsively buying yet another book I couldn't afford, I joined my local library and decided to just borrow a few. Or 15.

Not knowing anything about the book besides my attraction to the cover, I was a bit disappointed when I started to read the first few pages. I didn't relate at all to the main character, a cyborg (half-human, half-machine) named Cinder who is pretty much a genius when it comes to anything mechanical. I was also a bit confused by the names, as the book is set in Asia, in a place called the Eastern Commonwealth. 

There was a lot of description of who Cinder was - her human body and the parts of her that are mechanical - but I felt the description of her (hair, eyes, facial features etc) was missing, as were the rest of the characters, with one exception towards the end of the book (which I won't spoil for you!). I don't know if this was done on purpose, to allow the reader to form their own picture of what each character looked like or if it just wasn't that integral to the author in the story she was wanting to tell. Having been placed into the middle the Eastern Commonwealth with no identifying description other than the country and the Asian name of Linh Cinder, I assumed that Cinder was, in fact, Asian, as were most of the other characters. On this score, I'm still just not quite sure and I haven't had the chance to go look at any fan art. The book trailer, however, sheds a bit more light. Take a look:


After I got past this little stumbling block, I realized that the character herself reminded me very much of Kaylee Frye, from Joss Whedon's cancelled television series, Firefly. Funnily enough, at the back of the book, there was a question and answer portion with the author, who says that she was definitely inspired by Firefly! Once I had that in my mind, I started to get more excited about the book and abandoned my reservations about the lack of physical description.  

The story is a complicated one, with little mysteries sprinkled throughout and revealed in spurts. The story of Cinderella that we are all familiar with is twisted into something entirely different in this series, and the dynamics between each character are surprising. We see much more of the prince in this version, which I always found lacking in the Disney tale, and we also have an evil Queen, which is the first time I've ever seen that addition to the narrative. 
Synopsis:
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.
While the story was published back in 2012, I don't feel like I've jumped on the bandwagon too late. It seems that the fourth book in the series, Winter, was just released this year, and prior to that, a few short stories that reveal information on Cinder's first meeting with her step-family and the evil queen of the story, Queen Levana. 

As I turned each page, the more I felt sure that this series would play wonderfully on the big screen. I love to fan-cast my favorite books, and I could totally see Chloe Grace Moretz or Bonnie Wright playing Cinder opposite perhaps BooBoo Stewart as Prince Kai. I'm still hoping that somewhere along the line, the series will get an option for film, because it's the best beginning to a series since the Hunger Games. I have no idea if the rest of the series will continue to keep me intrigued, but I really hope so.

I've just rented the second book in the series, called Scarlet, which starts off in Europe with a character based on Little Red Riding Hood who eventually meets up with Cinder from the end of the first book. I can't wait to start reading it and will definitely do a review when I have completed it.

A few facts in addition to the Firefly aspect that I also found interesting - the story sprang from the author's participation in NaNoWriMo (which I just completed my first session of!) AND she lives in Tacoma, WA, which means we're both Pacific Northwesterners!

If you're looking for a new twist on the Cinderella story and other fairy tale characters, then Cinder and the Lunar Chronicles should definitely be at the top of your reading list! You can learn more about the book and even read the first chapter on Marissa Meyer's webpage here.

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