Book Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Title: Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1)
Marissa Meyer
Date Read: 18/02/2015 – 24/02/2015
Rating: ★★★


Cinder_CoverAccording to GoodReads, this book was on my TBR shelf for almost exactly three years. A friend of mine started reading it and that made me think I really should get around to it myself. After all, I love fairytale retellings and who could resist cyborg Cinderella, right?

For a start, I think I maybe made the mistake of beginning this book in the wrong mindset. The book I had read immediately before this one was quite a mature, dark urban fantasy/horror novel, and maybe plunging into YA sci-fi immediately wasn’t the greatest idea. While it was very readable (I knocked it over in a couple of afternoons), it’s also quite predictable. I had worked out who certain characters were (but didn’t know they were) by about chapter three. I also didn’t feel any particular investment in any of the characters. They all had pretty awful things happening to them, and I certainly sympathised, but I didn’t feel any real investment in them.

This improved in the last quarter. The stakes got higher, characters confronted each other, and there was finally a bit of action. I actually think Queen Levana, the villain, is one of the best-crafted characters in the book, and seeing her finally interact with Cinder as well as Prince Kai, was really good.

The world-building is interesting, though I always felt it was a bit superficial. I wanted to know more about cyborg technology, about the robots they use, about New Beijing… I have read reviews written by people who know more about Chinese culture than I do, and they have also pointed out that as an Asian civilisation, New Beijing and by extension, the Eastern Commonwealth, do not ring true. I had a gut feeling as I was reading that this was the case.

Cinder and Prince Kai are pretty stock-standard YA leads. I don’t really have much to say about them, other than it is exciting to meet a female YA lead who is a mechanic by trade. We need more of that! I am going to read the next book in the series; while it is based on Red Riding Hood and I don’t generally enjoy adaptations of that story, the following two books in the series are based on Rapunzel and Snow White respectively, and I’m pretty keen on that, as neither of those are stories that get retold very often.

I can totally see why this book is so popular with the YA crowd, and I am hoping I will enjoy the subsequent books. Now that a lot of the world-building is out of the way, that allows the rest of the series room for more story, and I hope that’s what I get.

7 thoughts on “Book Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

  1. Kate Sparkes says:

    Thanks for posting this. I read about 1/4 of it and returned it to the library because I’d figured everything out already, and wasn’t invested enough in the characters to care what happened to them. I’ve been feeling like a weirdo ever since because everyone seems to love it. It didn’t seem like a bad book, just not for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Emily Witt says:

      Yeah, I didn’t not like it (which you probably figured from the review) but it didn’t blow my mind like I was expecting it to. I think the problem is a good portion of the online reviews are written by fifteen-year-olds and basically just consist of “OMG BEST BOOK EVER”. Which is fine, but when you’re on sites where they average out the ratings, finding helpful reviews can be hard. I think fifteen-year-old me would have loved it that much, too.


      • Kate Sparkes says:

        Yeah, fifteen year old me probably would have as well. There’s so much YA that I love now, but this might have been a little too… I don’t know.

        If you like the rest of the series I might give it another try.


      • Emily Witt says:

        I’ll keep you posted. I’ve put my name down for the second one, but there are a few people ahead of me in the queue. (I’ve also had one person suggest that if I’m not a fan of Red Riding Hood adaptations in general, I should just skip it and go to the third one, which is kind of tempting…)


  2. sharrielynn says:

    I’m really loving this series, but I didn’t go into with high expectations–the synopsis did absolutely nothing for me. I only read it because everyone seemed to love it, and I was curious. In my opinion, Scarlet was a little better than Cinder, and Cress was better than Scarlet.


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