Mirrors have an uncanny way of telling the truth

Cinder (2012)
Author: Marissa Meyer


The first of The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, Cinder is set on a futuristic dystopian earth and the story takes places in the Eastern Commonwealth in New Beijing, a city created after the destruction of the original Beijing following World War IV. New Beijing is a city ravaged by plague outbreaks and the monarchy is doing everything in its power to find an antidote. Earth is in disarray with the Lunar Empire (from the moon, if Lunar didn’t give it away). Essentially a retelling of Cinderella, a very bold retelling of Cinderella, Cinder is a cyborg. Linh Cinder has a mechanical prosthetic arm and leg and a large part of her organs are wired to keep her running and works as a mechanic, living with her adopted “evil stepmother”, two step-sisters and her android Inko. Prince Kai, heir to the throne of the Eastern Commonwealth heads to Cinder’s shop to get his person tutor android fixed, unfolding the story between them and unlocking the door to Cinders secret and forgotten past.
I think this story was beautifully if not quickly done, it feels like a toe in a big pond, getting a feel for the water before diving in. The universe is well thought out and explained, I found the politics easy to grasp, the history simple to understand and the characters endearing. Cinder being set in a futuristic China was an aspect I adored, it was stimulating to not be reading another story set in America but I did want a bit more Chinese culture from it. I think the closest we got was references to some Chinese dishes whilst Price Kai was entertaining Levana Blackburn, the Lunar Queen.
I genuinely enjoyed Linh Cinder as the protagonist and usually, the protagonist will drive me mad. Cinder can be forgiven for her shortcomings because she isn’t sure herself what she feels or thinks. Cinder is very confused over her heritage, is she cyborg, is she human, how much of her is human, how much can she feel. Cinder cannot cry or blush. She struggles to convey her emotions because of the part of her that is cyborg but she does feel because was of course human. I found the depth of her character refreshing.
Kai was the only other big character in the novel, I like that the plot wasn’t over-complicated by keeping your main characters down to two but Kai just didn’t bring the same intrigue to the table that Cinder did. He’s a kind and open minded soul, which we don’t always expect from royalty but with this being my genre, it’s a given that prince charming is indeed jut that. There was’t much more to him, he had to suffer loss but he never seemed to particularly mourn. He had to become bigger and stronger and resilient and he did but he still seemed like the same teenage prince.
There’s still a lot to learn about the universe of The Lunar Chronicles, the biggest mystery remaining by the end is the Lunar Empire. I don’t know why these people ended up on the moon or who they are or what they are. I hope to learn more as I continue with the trilogy which I surely will. I would recommend this series based on this book alone to anyone who enjoys young adult fiction. If you’re seeking an epic sci-fi novel though, this probably is not for you.

For fans of: The Grisha series, The Raven Cycle and Mothership


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