Wednesday, 25 January 2012

A-tissue, a-tissue, we all fall down!

 Book review for Cinder by Marissa Meyer
 A forbidden Romance. 
A deadly Plague. 
Earth's fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic in New Beijing is also a cyborg. She's reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister's sudden illness. But when her life becomes entwined with the handsome Prince Kai's she finds herself at the centre of a violent struggle between the desires of an evil queen - and a dangerous temptation.
Cinder is caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal. Now she must uncover secrets about her mysterious past in order to protect the Earth's future.
This is not the fairytale you remember. 
But it's one you won't forget.

When I first heard about Cinder, I immediately thought it was going to be another gimmick. There are so many books out there that claim to rewrite fairytales in a ‘new and different way’. Yeah. Nine times out of ten, I can’t get past the first chapter.

 This is that other time.

 Now, as a general rule, I go into reading a book with a lot of skepticism. This may not be the best way to enter someone else’s fantasy world but when a book manages to get past that tough outlook, I know it’s going to be a keeper.
 And man, is Cinder a keeper.

I am well aware this book came out a few months ago but as a lover of Grimm’s fairytales (and dare I say this, even Disney’s Cinderella doesn’t quite reach the mark), I have very high standards on any and all adaptations. I hadn’t even planned to buy it in the near future so I think this is the first time I’ve been thankful Charlestown Square didn’t have the book I wanted – and trust me when I say only time. If they’d had The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, I still wouldn’t have read this book. 

My review:

At face value: I love the cover. Stars above, I love it. The red shoe is actually like a pair I have.

Immediate Reaction: OMFG Give ME the Next One Now! It’s finished? OMIGOD Noooooo! Evil, twisted universe, ARGH! (Can you tell I kind of liked it?)

High Five: Very, very close. Oh, so close. Four and a half and that’s purely because I’m a picky bitch.

Favourite Quote: Had to include this one. Out of context, probably doesn’t have the same effect but trust me; my heart broke.

“She was just a mechanic, and he was the prince with all the charms she pretended to be immune to. And he was there, before her, while she tottered on a single foot and tried to calm her rapidly beating heart. How she could barely meet his gaze. How he leaned forward, forced her to see him, smiled.
That moment. That smile.
Again and again and again.”

Cinder is based on the brother’s Grimm fairytale (duh!) and was a seriously awesome read. I wasn’t looking forward to all the parallels but thank God Meyer (Marissa, not Stephanie) didn’t overdo it. I think that’s what I was most worried about. Each time something cropped up to remind me of the fairytale it was like a little hug as opposed to a punch in the face. It was subtle, artistic, and the little quotes from the original story were a nice touch. 

The first few pages really made me step back a little from the book – our main character is a cyborg? – I didn’t know if I could get past that one. But as soon as that thought entered my mind, Meyer distracted me with a very pretty, very shiny object. And no I don’t mean Cinder’s new foot. I mean Kai, of course. Prince Kai. His Imperial Highness. His Imperial Swoonworthy, ‘I’m so hot I’m about to burn through these pages’ Kai. 

The first chapter impressed me, the next, say, four were ‘okay’, but once I picked the book up again from that little break I couldn’t put it down. I finally finished the book last night and couldn’t believe it was 2am. The last time I stayed up for a book was my overnight read of Frostbite/Shadow Kiss. That was about three years ago.

Let’s talk about Cinder, our awesome main character. This is a girl with no idea where she came from, no idea how to fit in with the humans around her, and no idea how to please her ‘evil stepmother’. Cinder goes through a massive period of self-discovery and I actually cared about the results. Plus, the girl is a mechanic. Umm, hello? I love, love, love that she is so bloody smart at this and so dang clueless about everything else. She isn’t one of those obnoxious characters that seem to know everything.

Now, I suppose I should mention here a little thing called the Letumosis plague that is tearing through New Beijing. It’s a pretty big part of the plot and kind of pushes it along. I should also probably mention a character who is so deliciously evil and twisted and SO NOT 2-DIMENSIONAL that I fell in love with her and hated her all at the same time. Queen Levana gets under my skin as much as the characters' and as far as antagonists go, I only hope one day I can write one just as convincingly. 

As Cinder and Kai gradually (key word here) fall in love, as the odds are stacked up against them, as things become almost impossibly impossible I tore through this book. I could feel the pages shrinking beneath my fingers and as desperately as I didn’t want it to end, I didn’t want to stop reading. Cinder reeled me in hook, line, and stinky, slimy sinker. The emotions seeped into me in a very real way and as the ending approached I went through the same desperation that Cinder did, and I’m pretty sure my heart broke with hers.

So why didn’t Cinder get a high five, you ask? 

My main problems with this book (and they are incredibly insignificant) are firstly, the dialogue between Cinder, her stepmother, Adri, and one of her stepsisters, Pearl. There’s little-to-no emotion in these conversations and I really hope Adri and Pearl don’t make it into the next book. Can I get a sword blade for these two please?

Secondly, there are two key parts in this book and for the sake of spoilers; I’m going to call them ‘Peony’s resolution’ and ‘THE BIG SCENE’. Now, Peony’s resolution and THE BIG SCENE really should have been emotional on so many different levels (and planets) however, at these key moments, the writing became unclear. I had to reread Peony’s part to work out what had actually happened and THE BIG SCENE, I couldn’t quite follow for a couple of lines so I made it up in my head. Also, I was so friggen into what was happening, I didn’t want to jump back and reread.

Lastly, and this is not so much a complaint but a side note, the massive cliffhanger OMIGOD moment, really wasn’t so unexpected. I think just before the halfway point I picked up on what was coming and just past the halfway point I was 99.9% positive it was coming. But with that said, the ending was amazingly awesome.
And the last lines… perfect way to end a book.

I am officially a Marissa Meyer fan girl, and now I’m off to buy Cinder in Spanish. Because that cover is WAY TOO cool. Just like Kai ;)

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