Thursday, January 19, 2012

Review: Cinder

How many YA books have done the retelling of a fairy tale thing before? And how many times has it actually worked? Happily (but maybe not happily ever after), Cinder is a rare exception to the cut-and-paste story retelling formula.

In this book, Meyer takes the well-worn story of Cinderella and places it in a future filled with robots and cyborgs, a very nasty plague, and a cold and menacing queen from the Moon. My first response on hearing the premise was that this was absurd and would surely be a flop. Man, was I wrong! All of these elements add enough of a new twist so that I wasn't concerned about waiting for the moment when this or that might happen.

Cinder, our half-human, half-robot protagonist, is more than you would expect from a story like this (where the original material often gets muted to bare, meaningless bones). She's not just a servant girl to an ungrateful woman - she's smart and strong and can keep her wits about her, even when she's meeting the prince, and yet she's vulnerable and uncertain about what is happening to her. The truth about exactly who Cinder is becomes glaringly obvious well before she figures it out instead, but instead of this annoying me, it left me cheering Cinder on, wanting her to move on until she could figure it out herself.

While Cinder is clearly being marketed as Book One of the Lunar Chronicles (giving a little away there, no?), it would be obvious even without that information that this is just the first step in a series of novels. The story follows the Cinderella tale very closely, but it makes enough jumps and breaks to be its own thing. But the way the story ends leaves me unclear of where it's going to go next (and I'm actually happy about this). I've chatted with a few people, and the obvious thought is that Meyer will tackle a different fairy tale the next time through, but however she presents the story, I'll be there to read it.

Buy Cinder on Amazon
Buy Cinder at a local store through Indie Bound

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