Wednesday, 6 June 2012

review: Cinder

by Marissa Meyer
Fiewel and Friends, January 3 2012
young adult sci-fi

Cinder is a mechanic -- one good enough to bring Prince Kai to her storefront to fix an android. Then the plague sweeping through New Beijing strikes Cinder's younger sister Peony. Their stepmother blames Cinder, volunteering her body for plague research, a fate no one has survived. At the same time that Queen Levena of the Lunars race descends from the moon to threaten war and oppression, Dr. Dmitri Erland discovers something unique about Cinder, something that encompasses her body, her genetic makeup and her very identity.
The cover:

The concept of the foot could've been done a lot better. The steel bone structure looks super-imposed over the (scarily white) leg instead of actually being a part of the body, and why the heck is the shoe red? As well, the title font is too ornate considering it's sci-fi and the centering on the leg detracts from both. Plus, the author name is too small.

(I should go into a career of critiquing book covers, what do you think?)

The book:

Cinder marries a couple of subplots together, several larger ideas intertwined. As a result, this sci-fi debut is well-paced, as we bounce occasionally out of Cinder's head for a turn in Kai's or Dr. Erland's. Political scheming mixes with medical and technospeak for an authentic feel. And though there are unnecessary dividers in form of Book 1, 2, etc. (but with no break in the numeration of chapters), the writing is nice and solid, clean most of the time and detailed when the scene calls for it.

Cinder, at the beginning, is annoying as she scorns herself for mooning over Kai, but continues to moon. Her easy relationship with companion droid Iko helps to bring out her better qualities; and Iko is pretty darn cute herself: "Iko rolled to her side, clasping hr metal grippers over her chest. 'Prince Kai! Check my fan, I think I'm overheating.'" (p. 14) And by the end, Cinder is a lot more steel-spined *har* as this quote shows:
She kept her head high, even as her eyes stung, even as panic filled her vision with warnings and precautions.
It was not her fault he had liked her.
It was not her fault she was cyborg.
She would not apologize.
Dr. Erland is perhaps the most 3D side character; at the start, he is made out to be suspiciously ambiguous, but gradually his history and motivations are revealed, a process which makes him just about more interesting than Cinder. (Though I'd figured out the identity twist regarding Cinder long before he revealed it.)

Flashes of Marie Lu's Legend appear early on, considering the whole zomg-there's-a-plague-we-need-people-for-testing, not to mention the eep-maybe-the-plague's-a-conspiracy theory. Fixing Kai's android seems to happen far too easily, and I do wish Cinder had told Kai she was cyborg sooner. (These gals set themselves up for heartbreak, I swear.) As well, if this is such a futuristic society (there's a World War IV), why are they all in such horror of cyborgs? But the glimpses of heroines to come -- a Rapunzel who programs! Plus Dr. Erland's daughter Crescent Moon -- have me eager for future novels in the series.

(Although, eugh that inside font. Who forgot to tell the designer that you use serif fonts for long passages of text?)

Rating: 3.8 out of 5