Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer (@marissa_meyer)

I’ve had Cinder by Marissa Meyer sitting on my shelf for months. It’s been calling me, but I kept putting off pleasure reading in the name of review books. Then I started getting burned out, and realized that perhaps I needed to read something for me instead of for other people. (Whether you blog for fun or work in publishing professionally, I think this is a pretty universal concept. All obligation-reading and no pleasure-reading makes Jack a dull boy. Or something.) So I went on a tear of pleasure reading while I took my blogging break, and it was fabulous. The last book I read before I plunged back into the blogosphere was Cinder, and it was an excellent one to end on. Fairy tales and CYBORGS! What more could you want in a book?

The Plot (from Goodreads)

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.

My Thoughts

First, I just want to say how much I love the idea of this series. Each book in the futuristic sci-fi Lunar Chronicles is a retelling of a classic fairy tale, and I think that combo is magical. Cinder, obviously, is Cinderella. The sequel, Scarlet, is Little Red Riding Hood. And still to come are Cress (Rapunzel) and Winter (Snow White). Each book will continue the tales of the characters from the prior book while introducing us to new re-imaginings of the fairy tale characters, and while I have no idea how Marissa Meyer is going to pull that off, I’m thrilled about the concept.

Now, talking about the book itself, Cinder was a fun protagonist. She was Cinderella meets Kaylee from Firefly, with robot parts. And I liked that although, like the fairy tale, Cinder’s romance with the Prince was definitely part of the story, her main motivation was not love, it was independence. Cinder was prepared to pull herself up by her mechanical bootstraps, and I appreciated that about her.

Prince Kai wasn’t the most fleshed out of characters, although I liked him well enough. No, I didn’t fully understand what made him so very appealing to Cinder, but he wasn’t unappealing. I just didn’t quite love him. But that’s okay, since as I said, the love story was not actually central to the plot. I’m okay warming up to Kai over several books while I stay invested in the rest of the plot. Even Cinder ends the book not entirely sure about how she feels about him, so it’s all right for me to feel the same way.

I really enjoyed the way the fairy tale elements were woven into the story. There’s still an evil stepmother, and an evil stepsister. There’s a prince, and a ball. And there is the classic running-away-down-the-steps scene, although with a twist.

But at the same time, there’s an evil queen who rules a race of people who live on the moon, with mind control powers. There’s political unrest. There’s a mysterious plague. There’s androids and hovers and cyborgs. So while it is recognizable as the fairy tale that inspired it, it also brings a lot of freshness and imagination that makes it stand out from the crowd.

I will say it’s a bit predictable. I called the big “twist” ending somewhere in the first 50 pages. But it didn’t lessen my enjoyment of the book. I still loved to see how everything unfolded. The thing with fairy tale retellings is that we already know all the bones of the story, so I don’t think a surprise ending is all that important. What matters is the creativity of how the tale is told, and how it differs from the original. The characters and setting and how they can hold my interest, even if I know (more or less) what’s coming. And I think Cinder accomplished that in spades.

If you are looking for a fun, imaginative new series that puts an exciting sci-fi twist on the stories you grew up with, I’d highly recommend Cinder.

Feature & Follow #98 – Dream Cast of Under the Never Sky

Welcome to the Feature & Follow Hop, hosted by Parajunkee’s View and Alison Can Read!

If you’re a new follower, greetings! I hope you enjoy my blog, and I’d love for you to follow me via LinkyFollowers, Networked Blogs, email or RSS. All follow options are in the sidebar. Be sure to let me know how you’re following in the comments so I can return the favor!

This week’s topic is simultaneously fun and super-hard. And here it is:

Activity: Dream cast your current read

Okay. I love playing this game in my head while I’m reading. I love movies, I love film adaptations of books, and I like to play the “what if” game with myself.

But good grief, the books I’m reading now do not make this easy.

First off, the one I’m reading now, I’m just not far enough into it to cast. I’m only about 1/5 of the way through The Knife of Never Letting Go, and I do not know enough about any of the characters to cast them. So I decided to move to the one I just finished, Under the Never Sky. And it is hard.

You’re going to need to forgive me now, because I am just not up on my teen/child actors and actresses. I tried to pick mostly from people I’d seen act in at least something (the glaring exception being Aria), but that means sometimes they’re a bit of a stretch. There’s probably some awesome actors/actresses out there that I’ve never heard of that could do a great job on these roles. And the two child parts – Cinder and Talon – would probably do better with unknown actors. But saying “unknown” is no fun! So here we go.

Aria: Emma Roberts

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Aria is 17, dark-haired, beautiful, and was genetically engineered to be an angelic operatic singer. I haven’t actually seen Emma Roberts in anything, but I’ve heard she’s good, and she looks like I picture Aria. The singing would have to be dubbed though. While Emma Roberts is a passable pop singer, you need to have some serious pipes and be classically trained to pull off Tosca.

Perry: Matt Lauria

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Perry is 18, blond-haired, muscular, and kind of scary. Let’s just ignore for a minute the fact that Matt’s actually nearly 28 years old. I looked him up thinking he couldn’t possibly be much past his early 20s. So apparently the boy (er, man) ages well. I really enjoyed him on his one season of Friday Night Lights, and while the rugged and savage character of Perry is extremely different from the squeaky-clean Luke Cafferty, I think he could pull it off.

Roar: Zac Efron

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PLEASE DON’T HATE ME. No seriously. Roar is described as being dark haired, with movie-star good looks, and is highly charismatic and charming.  So, High School Musical aside, I actually think Zac Efron is a pretty good fit.

Cinder: Joel Courtney

Photo Credit: Rob Sentz photostream at

Yup, that’s the kid from Super 8. Cinder is supposed to be 12 years old, skeletally thin (so Joel – or any kid cast to play him – would have to lose some weight), and carries around a wariness and sadness with him. I don’t really know of a lot of younger teen actors, but I thought the kids were the best part of Super 8 (the alien sure as heck wasn’t), and I think Joel would make a pretty decent Cinder.

Vale: Hayden Christensen

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Vale is the leader of the Tides, and Perry’s older brother. I’m pretty sure Hayden Christensen could be made to look related to Matt Lauria. Plus, Star Wars prequel suckage aside, he showed he could play both sympathetic and sinister. We’ll overlook the fact that he overacted a tad (okay, a lot) in Star Wars, because it’s been 7 years since then and I’m assuming he’s matured a bit as an actor.

Rose: Kristin Kreuk

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Rose is described as striking, dark and long-limbed, with high cheekbones and almond-shaped eyes. Now, “dark” could also mean African American, but the almond eyes say Asian to me. I’ve always thought Kristin Kreuk is beautiful and exotic, and I think she could do justice to Rose’s small part.

Marron: Paul Giamatti

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Marron is described as round-faced, blond-haired blue-eyed, short, and portly but graceful. Obviously I took some liberties with that, since I couldn’t for the life of me think of anyone who matched that description. Marron struck me as kind and gentle, but also quick-witted and intelligent. Paul Giamatti is an excellent actor, and I’m pretty sure he could handle everything the role requires.

Talon: Jared Gilmore

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Okay, I know, he’s 12 and not 7. But he’s small and has dark hair, like Talon. And honestly, I don’t know many (or any) 7-year-old child actors. I actually think he’s mostly not-annoying on Once Upon a Time, and I’m going to assume that a 7-year-old living in a tribe under the Aether would look older than most 7-year-olds in your average 2012 second grade classroom. So I think it works.

Lumina: Julia Roberts

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She’s Emma Roberts’ aunt! And they look so much alike! I think that would be a fun cameo.

Consul Hess: Clancy Brown

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He’s supposed to be centuries old, but the only place you can tell is his eyes…which means the makeup department would have their work cut out for them. But what you can’t accomplish with makeup is the sinister darkness that needs to be part of the villain of the story. And Clancy Brown can do sinister darkness.

Phew. So those are all the major roles in Under the Never Sky. And that was ridiculously hard. I’m glad I’m not a casting director.