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Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

by ◊ 3 years ago 37 Comments Switch View

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.



-synopsis and cover art courtesy of goodreads.

Atmospheric Analysis: Um. Ack. You know, I like shoes and all–possibly more than the average lady–but that red hooker pump is kind of . . . embarrassing.

Planetary Class: Though it has flashes of post-apocalyptic and science fantasy, Cinder is, perhaps surprisingly, really a space opera at heart.

Mohs Rating: Cinder rates somewhere between a two and a three on the Mohs scale–the deeper you get into the story, the more plausible stuff like bio energy seems, but, you know, sufficiently advanced science can sometimes seem like magic and all of that.

Planetary Viability: This is a complex futuristic world, with strong sociological and technological sci-fi underlying its fairly fantastic plot. It might not be particularly realistic, but Meyer does a good job of making it feel that way.

Xenolinguistical Assessment: Meyer’s prose is clean and efficient, with some nice flourishes and very chatty, readable dialogue.

Expanded Report: Cinder, Marissa Meyer’s debut, easily delivers on the great fun of its premise: it’s a sci-fi retelling of Cinderella, set in New Beijing, with a cyborg as our poor little waif. I suspect there can be a temptation to oversimplify fairytale retellings, relying on the bland characters of the original stories rather than breathing new life into the source material. Here, however, we’re given a fresh spin on this old story.

What makes Cinder more than just fluffy princess stuff is Cinder herself, as well as the diverse cast of characters who surround her. She’s a scrappy, slightly sarcastic mechanic with soft heart. Her speech and reactions are very contemporary-feeling, and I suspect she’ll more easily connect with modern YA readers than either many sci-fi or fairy tale heroines. Her voice is believably adolescent and breezily casual, though not quite cliche enough to be called “snarky.” She’s nicely balanced and realize –even if she is only thirty eight percent human.

Cinder doesn’t remember her childhood–she was raised by a foster family who sets her to mend household electronics while her “stepsisters” preen and giggle and prepare to go to the prince’s ball. Peony and Pearl, like Cinder, are surprisingly fresh and nuanced. Rather than the flat monsters of the fairytale, one sister (Peony) is, though a little superficial, a very sympathetic character. As were other supporting members of the cast: Prince Kai, our love interest; Dr. Erland, who tries to derive from Cinder a cure for the plague that’s destroying the Earthen population; Iko, the completely awesome android. These characters are built deftly, in quick, seemingly-effortless strokes. It’s a cast as vital as any you’ll find on Joss-Whedon penned television.

The plot, likewise, moves briskly, with just enough of the fairytale (the ball; the stepsisters) to ground us, but enough fresh details (a plague! a war between Earth and the moon!) to keep it surprising. Much of the plot concerns the political machinations of the Lunar queen, and the impact of this court drama on New Beijing. And yet it’s never boring–much closer to the original Star Wars trilogy than the prequels.

Cinder‘s romance was particularly striking. Meyer could have easily defaulted to instalove here–the fairytale framework would have excused it. Yet instead, she gives us two down-to-earth, likeable characters, lets them spend sufficient time together to flirt and joke and nearly kiss, and allows the chemistry to grow naturally from there. Though Prince Kai could have been a smarmy love interest–he is a prince, after all–he’s not. He’s respectful and kind, a good foil for Cinder, who is herself a little rough around the edges.

If Cinder has any flaws, they would lie with the villains–who are a bit one dimensional–and the very predictable plot twist that is obviously telegraphed on page 50 and not revealed until the last five pages. I’m almost tempted to forgive Meyer this; it’s a fairytale, after all, and we know exactly what kind of happy endings we’re in for with this sort of story. But she teases the reader in a way that made me wonder if she thought it would ultimately surprise us.

It didn’t surprise me, but this is still a very worthwhile read. I’d easily recommend it to any reader who loves either Firefly or Sailor Moon–who are looking for the same quality of setting and character and, above all, fun.

Cinder comes out January 3rd. It’s available for preorder from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and your local indie bookstore. We’re also giving away a copy, generously provided by the publisher (US and Canada only, sorry)! Just comment here before Sunday, January 1st at 11:59 PM EST to enter. And stay tuned on Monday when we’ll be kicking off the Cinder blog tour with a post from Marissa Meyer!

About the Author


Phoebe North is a twenty-something writer of YA speculative fiction. She lives in New York State with her husband and cat (who may be the most intelligent being in her household). Visit her website at View all posts by Phoebe »

Discussion - 37 Comments:

  1. I absolutely can’t wait to read this book!! Just ordered my copy today! Gotta start off my new year with some awesome reads! This book definitely sounds AWESOME! :)

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  2. Marissa is a real sweetie on Twitter and I’m excited to read Cinder when it comes out! :)

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  3. Awesome review. Very detailed and honest.

    Thanks for doing a giveaway. :)

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  4. I’ve been dying to read this one!! Thanks for the awesome giveaway :)

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  5. May Richard

    Oh my god! I need this in my life! Thank you for the opportunity!

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  6. Ashley Chen

    oh thank you! The plot seems just like my type of book!

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  7. Ashley chen

    Marissa is such a nice person, and of course have the perfect red shoes! Thanks for the giveaway! I can’t wait to read the book! Hope I can win. :)

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  8. Natil Kringles

    I really hope I can get this book. I had been wanting it for a while now :)

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  9. Mei Jiao

    I love the review! Thank you for the giveaway!

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  10. Katherine Dodgers

    I love how you made the review into different, unique sections! I can’t wait for more. And of course, thank you so much for the giveaway! Marissa is so sweet and fun to talk to. Her ideas are amazing! The word Cyborg just hook me in. Thank you once again.

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  11. Rachel Curtis

    I just downloaded the first 5 chapters of Cinder for free on my Nook…can’t wait to read more! Thanks for the giveaway

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  12. I love the concept, and it’s promising that you call out the world-building… interesting!

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  13. I want to win! And I’m having a giveaway on my site this week, too. Check it out!

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  14. Stella

    Thanks for the giveaway! I love the concept of this book.

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  15. Thanks for the giveaway! Cinder sounds really interesting and I would love to read it!

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  16. thank you for the giveaway :) i’ve been curious about this book for a while… i love the book cover too!
    email: cruz042 at

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  17. Thanks for the giveaway! Cinder sounds really good and from the five chapters I’ve read it will be better once I finish the book, also the cover is breath-taking.

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  18. Tricia C

    Ive been really looking forward to reading Cinder. Would you believe I just now made the connection between ‘Cinder’ and ‘Cinderella’? Guess I’m pretty thick lol. Anyway thanks for this giveaway!

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  19. Gah! I’m dying to read this book! I love your review style and the fact that you recommended the book to fans of Sailor Moon haha! I’m kind of disappointed you said it was predictable though…but I guess most fairy tale-esque books are!

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  20. CINDER looks really good. I love the concept. Thanks for the giveaway. Happy New Year!

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  21. Becky

    What a great concept – really looking forward to reading this book!

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  22. Kendra

    This book sounds intriguing! I will have to look at my local bookstores to see if they have it.

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  23. alexandra

    This sounds like a great book! Thanks for hosting this giveaway; I’m sure my students at Berkeley High will love the book.

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  24. ahhhh so excited for this book. *want*

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  25. Julia

    This sounds like an incredibly cool book. I can’t wait to read it when it comes out! :)

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  26. Vivien

    Marissa is definitely made of awesome! I can’t wait to get my hands on a finished copy :D

    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

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  27. This review has tipped me over to checking this one out. Thanks! [Not eligible for giveaway, just commenting.]

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  28. Firefly AND Sailor Moon? ZOMG SIGN ME UP.

    (but don’t enter me for the giveaway; I’m ordering a copy and would rather someone else win. Just wanted to comment!)

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  29. In contrast to Beth (^) I would LOVE to be entered in the giveaway! This sounds quite excellent! :D

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  30. Yes! I agree. I really liked CINDER. The only thing that bothered me was the plot twist could’ve been guessed from the first 50 pages.

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  31. See, now I HAVE to enter, just ’cause you said Canada. You tricky tricksters.

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  32. Bahnree

    Really looking forward to this book! Hoorah, giveaway!

    *sits and waits hopefully*

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  33. Theresa N

    Sounds really good and love the title.

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  34. I know want to read Cinder even more than I already did (its one of the books I am most looking forward to this year).

    Thanks for the awesome giveaway and review.

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