A few years ago, this book was all over YouTube and everyone was raving about it. It never really sounded like my thing, so I didn’t pay much attention. Until I was browsing my library’s online catalogue recently. It was available and I’m always looking for books to listen to at work. I’m also trying to push myself towards more genre fiction this year and get myself out of my comfort zone. What better book to do that than one I’d already rejected?
I’ll be honest, retellings of fairy tales don’t excite me. I know there are plenty of people out there who think they’re great but I just find it a bit overdone. Nevertheless, I went into this with an open mind and was excited about a science-fiction injection. Instead of a young girl forced to do housework, Cinder is a cyborg who makes a living as a mechanic. This is how she meets the handsome Prince Kai. At the same time, her sister is diagnosed with a horrible illness and Cinder finds herself mixed up in a political mess. What secrets is she going to uncover and what does it mean for her world?
If you ask me, the Cinderella aspects of this story seem a little forced. There’s a point along the way when it doesn’t make much sense to keep going with it. Yet the book doesn’t stop trying to hit the big moments of the original story. There’s a sort of romantic element that feels awkward and unnecessary. Then there’s an attempt to fit the ball scene in that doesn’t work the way that it should. I don’t think the two different sides to the story really ever meld together. I wish this had been a simple science fiction book without the added layer of the retelling.
After all, that’s where the potential is. I liked the disease element and the conflict with the Lunar people. I just wish we’d spent a bit longer getting to know the world. As a cyborg, Cinder is an outsider in society. This is a really interesting dynamic that isn’t used as much as I’d have liked. I wanted more backstory as it didn’t always make sense. Why do people distrust cyborgs? I also wish we had seen her interact with more people. We really only see her with her family, the dreamy Prince and the doctor. It doesn’t give us much of a sense of how she fits into her community.
There was so much potential for this book but I just feel it was a bit undeveloped. It’s quite a basic approach. The plot isn’t extremely complicated and kind of drags along. The characters are all one-dimensional. Cinder is just the sweet cyborg trying to help everyone. Prince Kai is an empty shell who only adds handsome to the book. There are two evil characters but neither really register. Cinder’s adopted mother is just a bit bitchy but never leaves much of an impression. Although, she does better than the Lunar Queen. We learn nothing about her other than people constantly talking about how awful she is. It’s so disappointing. Show don’t tell people. Show don’t tell.
I know that this isn’t the worst book ever but it’s quite boring considering the premise. This could have been so much fun but it wasn’t. It could have created a fantastic new world but it’s too vague. There’s a lack of personality, charm and whimsy here. Its faithfulness to the source material is the only thing this book has down but I also think it was the wrong decision.