Feminist Fairy Tales Are Always Acceptable (CBR7 Review 21)

Title: Cinder (Book One of the Lunar Chronicles)
Author: Marissa Meyer
Read more reviews at Cannonball Read

I probably should have written this a few weeks ago, around the time I finished the book, but things always seem to conspire against me. I picked Cinder up on a whim; it was in the right place, at the right price. I’d seen it popping up on my Amazon suggestions for awhile and I knew the basic premise of it. Retelling of Cinderella set in a future world, and something about robots (judging by the cover.) And that is not inaccurate, though I think it ended up being much more than just that simple premise.

I read this around the same time as I saw the latest version of Cinderella in theaters. Looking back, the similarities are interesting to me. Neither of these Cinderella’s are looking for love. They’re both girls who are trapped in situations they can’t escape (albeit one long ago, and one in the distant future,) but are trying to make the best of what they have. There’s a sort of acceptance that life isn’t that great, but that doesn’t necessarily define who they are as people. After the film version came out, I read a few things about how Cinderella is the kind of fluffy, candyfloss dreck we should be steering our girls away from. Those people clearly didn’t see the same movie as me. Cinderella is a young woman who has put up with years of abuse and torment from those that were supposed to protect her and care for her, and still comes away with the ability to find happiness, to accept love, and to never change or compromise who she is for that love. That? That’s pretty badass.

So, back to the book version. In this, Cinder is a girl who was born human, but after a horrific accident she doesn’t remember, is now a cyborg. She works as a mechanic in New Bejing (a non-white Cinderella! Hooray!!), trying to help support her step-mother and two step-sisters. Cinder is basically property, she’s not counted as a human and is owned by her step-mother. Some life, huh? Of course, we have our prince, Prince Kai, who meets Cinder when he comes to her booth to get a robot repaired. This sets up the plot for the rest of the book nicely.

There’s also a colony on the moon who wants to take over and enslave the Earth, and a deadly disease with no cure. These two things both play key roles in spurring Cinder to action and perhaps revealing a little more of her past. I mean, the twist is telegraphed in a fairly heavy handed manor pretty early on in the book. I think I figured it out about 30 pages in. That said, it really didn’t take away from my enjoyment of reading it. The writing is tight, the book is well-paced. I never felt like it was dragging or things were included just for the sake of filling time. Everything seemed to have a purpose for me.

Cinder is just a girl who wants out. She wants to take off and escape New Bejing and get away from her oppressive step-mother. She’s seen and experienced so much pain and loss in her young life, and she’s done. Kai is a prince who feels enormous responsibility to his people, pressure to do the right thing by them. Both of these characters have ended up making sacrifices to protect those they care about, which I think is something that draws them together (in an unspoken way.) As characters, I found them to be believable within the created world, sympathetic, flawed, and well done. The scenes at the big ball were heartbreaking to me.

This is the first book in a series, which is set up towards the end of the novel. I haven’t had a chance to read any of the others, but as they’re all based on fairy tale characters, I can see myself getting around to them. If they’re anything like Cinder and her story, I bet they’re going to be excellent.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars.

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