A big cyborg-hand thumbs-up for ‘Cinder’

Cinder

Bright and funny? Kick-ass addictive characters? A world where you can feel the heat radiating off the futuristic tarmac? Welcome to one of my favourite reads – ‘Cinder‘, Book 1 in the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. Yee-ha!

This got on my TBR list after a Penguin Teen Australia event. Once I got past the cover I was hooked – to both this story, and the entire series.

I still haven’t got the book-hook out of the side of my mouth. Did I mention I love this series?

I’m not alone.

So… what works so well?

  • World-building
  • Characters – strong, funny, imperfect
  • Romance – right from the start
  • Happy feel

World-building

pablo

I’m stoked to be repeating myself all the time. Because it’s just making things super clear to me.

I get the feeling

Great story + Great world = Awesome book

and

Great story + Wonky world = Big miss

No doubt about it, Meyer has created a great world. The technology of the era is infused beautifully, people have jobs and purpose, and I don’t trip over anything that shocks me out of the place I’m in when I’m reading.

Which is kind of the point, isn’t it? If the reader has to stop reading, the author is missing the mark.

 

Characters – strong, funny, imperfect

Cinder is COOL. Cinder cracks jokes even when she’s trapped in a laboratory as a powerless lab rat. Cinder trips over her words when a cute boy (okay, yes… he’s a Prince) is talking to her, and yet is super-capable when she’s focused on being a mechanic. I love that she stomps around in cargo pants, that she’s not that stereotype of ‘beautiful’, and yet who she is makes Kai fall for her.

Iko is a perfect companion for Cinder, she’s a comic element, she’s a tragic element, she allows us to learn more about who Cinder is. She helps hugely with the world-building.

Prince Kaito isn’t perfect, he thinks he’s failing, he doesn’t want to be Emperor. He cares, he dreams. And the banter between him and Cinder makes me grin each time. The humour is natural, the conversations sound right.

I could keep going, except that’s not what this is about. The important take-home message is that

these characters breath, they grow, and teens can relate to them.

I got so invested in their fates, when I finished Cinder I was out the door faster than you could say, ‘What happens next?’ to get Book 2 out of the library.

 

Romance

You read a few YAs and you quickly realise – romance is a key part of YA fiction. And this is a re-telling of Cinderella, so we’re expecting it too.

And Meyer lets us know right from the start, she will deliver.

Kai dumps his non-responsive android on Cinder’s counter halfway through the fourth page, and it’s one of the cutest first-meetings I’ve ever read. I knew from the start who the main characters were, and who the Love Interest was. And so I felt this happy expectation.

Don’t think Meyer has just renamed a few characters and the rest is simply an old fairy tale. She’s been clever, I enjoyed picking out the transformed references to the tale I knew. But this isn’t Cinderella.

It’s better.

 

Happy days

There are so many opportunities in this storyline to get dark and depressing. Seriously, there are thousands of people dying. There are family members dying. The conditions in the quarantine are terrible. The way Cinder is treated by her adoptive family and the general public could lead her to be dreadfully bitter.

But she’s not bitter, she’s resilient.

Meyer gently raises some issues, but she doesn’t wallow in them. When I read this book, I feel happy. This book is fast becoming one I go to when I want to escape the real world for a while.

I’m not saying it’s superficial. It’s far from it.

But it’s still FUN. And YAs love fun.

 

So, I guess Meyer got all the basics right. Solid world, believable characters with engrossing arcs, clever plot, in a package that is attractive to teens. The only thing I don’t get is the cover. It almost put me off reading the book. I understand why now, but I still don’t like it.

But then I want to be a writer, not a cover-designer. So I’ll get back in my box on that one!

 

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