While I was working at the election center for the 2022 mid-term elections, I had a lot of downtime during early voting, so I read 4 and 3 1/2 books in 2 weeks (plus did a bunch of puzzles, colored by number, journalled etc.). One 1/2 book was a DNF which I may post about later, 1 was a book of short stories that I got bored of (there are only so many short stories I can read at one time…) and the 3rd I’m still working through because my finished before the book did. 🙂
So, for the month of December, I’m going to revive my “Book of the Week” posts, in case you are looking for some holiday/vacation reading, or maybe some gifts for loved ones. I will start off with Cinder which is a fractured fairy tale set in a cyberpunk New Beijing featuring a cyborg- mechanic Cinderella.
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
“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. . . .Amazon
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.
With high-stakes action and a smart, resourceful heroine, Cinder is a Cinderella retelling that is at once classic and strikingly original.”
You had me at Cyberpunk
Clearly, this book is in the same genre as my Savant Uprising series, so it is a high choice in my list. Now, this one has space and moon people, in addition to humans on earth, but it does have nice cyberpunk elements and specifically cyborg stuff. Also, the MC is a mechanic, which jives very well with my main character.
Also, can we just talk for a second about how cool the cover art is? This is not the original cover, but I find it 10,000% more compelling than the original cover. The colors are so very cyberpunk and I’m one of those people who really like books w/ a character on the front. But that’s just me. Also, check out the inset page (lower down)….a .classic fairy tale scene!
This book was delightful and kept me engaged. I read it in like two days.
Fast-paced and with interesting characters, I really enjoyed this book. The world was rich and the characters’ backstories peppered throughout gave me a great insight into their personalities. I found Cinder to be a strong main character without being unlikable, which is hard to do when you have a female protagonist who is existing in a man’s domain. I find when people write female characters this way, a lot of the time, they completely forego anything girly and just stick with tough masc attitudes. However Cinder has a perfect distribution of masculine and feminine traits for the story. She has the desire to be girly, but doesn’t know how. I really rooted for her.
My biggest complaint is the way the plague has been built in this book. It is like a lot of years running (30?), highly contagious, kills 100% of its victims and kills in only a few days. Now, I know this book was written pre-pandemic when we didn’t really have life experience to base a plague off of, but I find the treatment of this plague so hard to believe. There is no way a plague of this type would go global b/c it would burn itself out before spreading far. ALSO…it’s fairly unrealistic for a plague…there have to be some survivors. Lastly, the society doesn’t seem to have any precautions in place to keep people from catching the plague, like shutdowns, mask wearing, sterilization protocols (for germs, not offspring) etc. If the plague was really this bad, society would not have crowded, dirty markets and the prince would no be running around amidst a crowd. However, I was fine looking over these details because I plot and backstory was far more interesting.
Also, some of the portrayal of Lunar people and the bias that all Lunars are evil is a little trite, but along with the othering of cyborgs, I do appreciate how this is already growing into a “shades of gray” mentality with the MC (i.e. some Lunar ppl aren’t all that bad) instead of black and white. I hope to see the same thing with the non-cyborgs realizing that cyborgs are people too.
However, I enjoyed the writing and the easy pace of this book as well as the characters and world setting so I do play to read her second book, Scarlet.
I have a bit more feedback but it contains pretty big spoilers so I have separated it with this picture. (Link to purchase is after the spoiler).
I also was pleasantly surprised that the MC does not get together with the prince in this book though I fully expect her to do so in later books. It is a refreshing change for him to be put off by her (cyborg and lunar-ness) initially and then, I’m assuming, there will be a relationship growing later on. At least, I hope that’s the case because I am totally rooting for them to ‘ship.