Well, the end of the term draws nigh and my life has ignited in one blazing pile of papers: articles, assignments, essays, and sheet music. As my life goes up in the proverbial flames of the fireplace that is university, what better time to review a Cinderella story? Or at least rake out the ashes of one. As mentioned in a previous post concerning YA book series (link here), I had intended to read Cinder for a long time before I finally picked it up a little over a year ago. The cover is beautifully designed, for starters, and the concept is intriguing, for finishers; what else is there? Well, after having read it, I raked this book over the coals: much like this year has done to me. But I can’t make my life go any better by complaining about it, so perhaps I can somehow benefit yours by sharing my review of Cinder.
Having waited long past the hype and through the release of at least three(?) sequels, I finally found the time and interest to pick up this cyberpunk teen fairytale adaptation. What can I say? The writing style and the odd usage of certain words and sentence structures rubbed me the wrong way, pulling me out of the story. The biggest plot twist for the very end of the book was clumsily foreshadowed (all but screaming to be noticed in a page-long historical exposition that served no possible purpose at that point BUT to be foreshadowing) within fifty pages of the beginning.
But while the romance with the prince is predictable (we all know the Cinderella story, after all) I don’t hold the tropes against this story, as the characters are (for the most part) decently fleshed out and believable to the point that now and again they make a tough decision or do something surprising. The translation of fairy tale to futuristic world is, while not seamless or even very fresh anymore, serviceable and makes sense within the narrative. There are, however, enough additions of context and events to make it interesting beyond the basic story outline we all know and love from the fairytale.
Cinder is not always a most sympathetic or likeable main character, frequently falling a bit too hard into the old YA “oh, I’m not pretty. Oh, I don’t care about my looks. Oh I’m too ghastly to love” moans, under the thin disguise of considering her mechanical limbs monstrosities instead of hella cool like they would probably be considered in the near future. Yes, the world building establishes that cyborgs are viewed as lesser humans and deformed, but there isn’t sufficient reason given for a wholesale cultural shift like this: have augmented humans become lacking in feeling and empathy after conversion, resulting in horrific outbursts of purely rational destruction of human life or something? Some expansion and reasoning would be nice for such a crucial aspect of the book. There is more I disliked about Cinder, but there’s no rule saying a main character has to be likeable all the way around. She just wasn’t compelling to me personally and I wouldn’t keep reading the series if it continued with her as main character.
Needless to say, this book didn’t wow me but I would be willing to see where the story goes with a different main character and the interweaving of multiple fairytales into the cyberpunk scenery.