Cinder by Marissa Meyer

From Amazon: 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.

There was a lot of buzz about this novel in the book circles I follow, so I was excited to read it. Didn’t feel much the same by the time I finished. I’ll quickly throw out the pros: I liked the characters. I generally liked the good versus evil plot. Meyer shows talent in world building. It could have been a great story, but there were things I could not get past. Enough so, that I will not be reading the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.

1) The book is set in the real world– waaaay in the future, but still our world. There have been 2 more World Wars since the ones in our times. Knowing what we know now about our general hero worship of wounded soldiers and how we celebrate any innovation that increases a disabled person’s ability to contribute to and participate in life, I cannot believe that an advance, scientific, society like the Commonwealth would have such overwhelming prejudice against people with cybernetic components. Calling Cynder “cyborg” is a relative term. She still obviously has all of her humanity; no one in story doubts that she was naturally born and her “condition” is the result of a horrible accident. Yet society is so easily able to dismiss her and people like her.

In 2012 the world cheered for Oscar Pistorius, a double amputee who ran sprints in the Olympics. Yet you want me to believe society DE-evolves in the future to the point that people who have been saved from death or dismemberment will be judged second rate citizens who are inhuman? That thousands of years of evolutionary tolerance will be discarded? And most of all, that a civilization would spend enormous amounts of resources to rescue a person and "fix" them, only to regulate them to the societal trash heap? I don’t buy it. Cynder would be a superhero, not a cog in the service industry machine. Read the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld to get a different take on futuristic human augmentation.

2) I figured out the plot way in advance. Pretty much from the moment they mentioned the missing heir to the Lunar throne, I know who it was. I guessed the royal Doctor’s secret right away, too. It left little anticipation for the end of the book, so I felt like I was reading only to confirm my suspicions.

3) I don’t believe that in the future the Commonwealth would have a blood lineage monarchy as the ruling authority. The Commonwealth basically evolved from today’s China. They stopped doing the dynasty thing a long time ago.

The last royal emperor of China, Puyi. He ruled from 1908-1912.

Are we supposed to forget that China has slogged a long, hard road through monarchies and communism and have just now begun shed some of their restrictive cultural mores only to voluntarily go back to it? That far in the future, how would they define the royal line? DNA testing? From which dynasty? Democracies or dictatorships, sure. Benevolent empires, not so much. So, I don’t buy the whole, "Evil Queen wants to marry the Commonwealth Emperor to have political power and produce a royal heir" thing.

There have to have been better ways to translate the classical elements of the Cinderella story. I can do suspension of disbelief, but accepting this story would have called for something stronger. I think Meyer would have done well to create a whole new world, rather than to pretend technological advancement happened, but history and societal evolution didn’t.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Alison
    Jan 19, 2013 @ 02:44:37

    I couldn’t believe the prejudice against cyborgs either. It was a little odd. To me it seemed like the author was skipping over something in their history that lead to the prejudice. I was hoping their would be more info about their past. Maybe it will be covered in another one of the books?

    Sorry you didn’t like this!

    Reply

    • squee1313
      Jan 19, 2013 @ 21:35:25

      I liked the characters. I liked the dialogue. I liked so much about this book, but the part I didn’t like was strong enough that I couldn’t get past it. It’s kind of a relief. I’m sure you’re like me in that there are plenty of other series out there to keep up with. I probably won’t miss this one.

      Reply

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