I had such high hopes for this book. I read it in a few days because it’s quite a fast read, which I liked. So let me just begin with what i did like about this first novel from the Lunar Chronicles.
Firstly, it’s a re-telling of a classic fairy tale, Cinderella. I love re-tellings. And this one just had all the right elements to make it awesome. A cyborg Cinderella? How could I not be interested? I am a huge fan of Once Upon a Time , the TV series, and Wicked the musical. I understand these are all different kinds of mediums in story-telling, but if you can take an old overused concept, put a twist in it and make it interesting, I’m all for that!
Secondly, it’s supposed to be a dystopian / sci-fi / fantasy story. These kinds of stories are somehow my latest craze these days. Anything from Isaac Asimov to Suzanne Collins to Jim Butcher. I’m interested in new worlds and weirdness and magic and sci-fi, and this book seemed to have it all.
Another thing that I found kind of cool is that the story is set in New Beijing. There aren’t a lot of these kinds of books to be set in this part of the world. So I was very interested in seeing how they would incorporate the Cinderella angle into an Asian atmosphere.
Having said that, I think that was about everything I could like about the book. What bothered me about it …. were a lot of things:
The setting. New Beijing. Except for the name of the city itself, the names of some characters, and a reference to dumplings, there’s nothing new or Beijing-ish about it at all. What happened to the original settlers of Beijing? Did they just allow the westerners to take over their country like that? China is a huge country with a huge population today. Imagine how many people there would be in the future Meyer imagines. It’s hardly believable that majority of the people living here would to be migrants.
Or maybe that’s just how I imagined it. Or the author just didn’t do the world-building very well. I don’t know.
The foot. Something just didn’t feel right about how Meyer tried to fit the Cinderella slipper into the story. She made into a cyborg foot. Hmm… Nope. I don’t buy it.
The characters. Cinder was NOT relatable at all. I couldn’t sympathize with her. I didn’t root for her. I wasn’t impressed with her decision-making. She just didn’t work as a main character. She kind of just went with everything that was happening to her. Sure, she put up a fight when they wanted to take her as a “volunteer” but that’s all. After that, she just planned to escape and leave everything behind. Way to go, heroine.
What made it bearable was actually her little sidekick, who was kind of cute and funny. And, of course, Meyer decides to kill her off, if only temporarily.
I did like the doctor. His character was straightforward.
The love story. This part of the story just made me cringe. Their connection was not believable. I didn’t want them to get together. There was no basis to their attraction, except a very superficial one. And this is supposed to be a love story. If I can’t get into the love part of it, what’s the point?
The politics. Somehow, it all felt very simplistic and backwards. Evil alien wants to take over the Earth by marrying the prince. I mean, there are still monarchies in the future?
I like the premise of this book. There are some very interesting and new ideas that I wish had been written better. Some of the things just didn’t click for me, though. The evil stepmother was just … evil. And racist. I like my antagonists to be bad but at least understandable or with a little more depth maybe? Moriarty, Lex Luthor, Loki, President Snow… Someone you’re gonna like hating.
Overall, this was a very unsatisfying read. I don’t really know if I will ever decide to pick up the next book in the series. I’m curious enough, I guess, but what with my disappointment in Cinder, I’m just not sure.