Cinder - Marissa Meyer "Imagine there was a cure, but finding it would cost you everything. It would completely ruin your life. What would you do?"

Linh Cinder lives in the Eastern Commonwealth, with her stepmother, Adri, and her stepsisters, Peony and Pearl. Cinder is a mechanic, and it is when she is at the market that she first meets Prince Kai. He has come to ask her to repair his android. She agrees. And thus begins a whirlwind ride, intertwining a dystopian future involving cyborgs and Lunars and a dash of Cinderella.

I've heard some mixed things about "Cinder", which is what has kept me from reading it for so long. After the disappointment of Insurgent, I figured nothing could be quite so disappointing (and boring), so I started reading "Cinder". And, by golly, I really liked it. Sure, it's got its problems, but I think it shows real potential and is very creative and vivid--and pretty darned exciting!

In my criteria of what makes a good book, a well-written character is near the top. And Cinder is a pretty well-written character. I love how she's a mechanic, sorta nerdy, but also not opposed to the girlie side of things. So yeah, I saw a lot of me in her. She was a smart protagonist, quick-thinking, compassionate, strong, and all around likable. I loved her relationship to Iko, the robot, and her relationship to Peony. Cinder was a character I could root for, a character I wanted to succeed.

Of course, she wasn't perfect. There is a BIG SECRET about her that you can guess only 50 pages into the book, yet Cinder doesn't find out until the last 10 pages. Also, I had quite a time trying to imagine what she looked like. She came from Europe at one point but lives in New Beijing. So is she Caucasian or Asian? No, it's not a deal-breaking thing, but I do like to have an image of the character as I progress through a book (series). In the end, I pictured her as Kaylee from Firefly:



The other characters were amazing. Prince Kai was definitely not your stereotypical Love Interest. He had concerns and desires apart from wanting to be with Cinder. He took his responsibilities seriously. And, let's face it, how he meets and falls in love with Cinder was probably one of the sweetest romances I've read in recent times.

I really appreciated how Meyer wrote the stepmother and stepsisters. It would have been easy to make them over-the-top evil, but she didn't. Adri felt like a woman, burdened with this girl her now-deceased husband adopted. Sure, that doesn't make what she did any better, but I did feel some empathy to her. Same with Pearl. Peony was absolutely great; she was Cinder's confidant, a sweet, hopeful girl.

Even our villain was pretty intimidating. A lot of YA villains tend to be all EVULZ, and while Queen Levana was no joke, she at least had the backbone and gumption to BE that all EVULZ woman. I felt she was a real threat, not some wishy-washy villain that the heroine will easily unseat.

The story was enthralling. I was completely absorbed through the entire thing. There weren't any dull moments, moments where nothing is happening with the story. Sure, I felt that the story may have relied too much on the Cinderella element--I think Meyer had a strong enough idea, she didn't need the fairy tale element to make it work. But I still enjoyed every moment.

And the dystopia element actually worked. A lot of YA dystopias fail at this point. Shatter Me tells you the world is horrible by saying things like "there isn't any food" or "people aren't allowed to read". Insurgent is based upon an idea that falls apart when you look too closely at it. To me, "Cinder" felt like a fairly plausible dystopian-ish future. New technology, new governments, new ways of life. About the only thing that made me skeptical was the Lunar aspect. How did they evolve their bioeletrical abilities? Does it have to do with living on a moon with 1/6 gravity? (Of course, this line of thought brings MANY things about the Lunars into question, so it's probably best that the science geek of me leaves that alone.)

In many ways, this was the book I had hoped "Insurgent" would be: a fun, adventurous book about a strong, confidant woman doing the right thing even when she may be the only one fighting for a better life. When I hit the final page, I wanted to immediately reach out and grab Book 2. Hopefully, Meyer will write quickly so I can find out what happens next!

Dialogue/Sexual Situations/Violence:
Very mild language.
Iko and Peony like to talk about how hot the Prince is; Queen of the Lunars, a woman probably old enough to have a teenager of her own, tries to marry the Prince. Some mention is made of a dress that exposes Pearl's cleavage.
There is some mild violence, as Cinder tries to escape, and there are some medical scenes where blood is drawn.