I’ve had such an intense love/hate relationship with YA fiction this year. And even the supposedly awesome selections weren’t as amazing as I had hoped they would be. I’m not sure why this is because normally reading 10-15 YA books a year is like crack to me. Love me some YA. But this year, not so much. (I’d love some recommendations of amazing YA if you’ve got them!)
However, Cinder was definitely a bright spot. Soaked it right up – literally read in 1.5 sittings. It’s a modern re-telling of Cinderella – very well done. The story takes place far in the future after many world wars have changed the face and politics of planet Earth. Cinder lives in New Beijing (old Beijing was destroyed) and is a cyborg. She’s human, but with robotic parts. She’s also a kick ass mechanic and her best friend is an android. Her world is rocked when her youngest stepsister comes down with this pandemic plague virus that currently has no cure and Cinder becomes very important in the search for said cure. Meanwhile, she’s also battling an evil stepmother, stepsister, alien Lunar Queen (you read that right), and her burgeoning crush on the gorgeous Prince Kai.
Most of YA is plot driven and Cinder is no different. Meyer’s debut novel excels at pacing, story, and characters you come to really care about. Her take on this fairy tale classic has all the original and essential elements – just with awesomely updated twists. Plus, the Lunars’ story line adds something new and entirely fresh to enhance what could have merely been a super predictable re-telling. Aliens, cyborgs, and handsome princes – yes, please!
Cinder endears herself to readers almost effortlessly. You’ll be touched by her relationships with Peony and Iko and appalled by her stepmonster and the evil bitch queen. But most importantly, you will CARE. The romance element, which normally loses me in YA with all the insta-love, is well done here. This is not love at first site and marriage after first kiss. Kai and Cinder slowly get to know one another – Meyer actually just lets them crush for the whole book! Almost unheard of and absolutely appreciated.
I also loved Meyer’s world-building and that her story doesn’t take place in America. The Chinese setting lends a bit of mystique and flavor to the novel for those of us who haven’t grown up there or visited. Between China and the Moon, Meyer’s really stepping away from the norm of other YA novels which wins her a ton of points in my book. I do hope that we learn a bit more about these world wars in future books.
Some readers might complain about the predictability of the story, but it didn’t bother me too much. While I did see almost every plot twist well ahead of time, I enjoyed the journey regardless. I looked forward to reading how Meyer’s unsuspecting characters would discover the truths and how these new realities would change and affect their lives.
Most importantly, I had so much fun reading Cinder and can’t wait for Scarlet, the second book in this 4 part series. The idea of multiple fairy tale heroines teaming up together is exciting and superhero-ish in the best way. Highly recommended for when you need some fast paced brain candy filled with action, political intrigue, and old-fashioned princesses getting a kick ass modern update. Plus, the cover is GORGEOUS.