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.
My Review: Ehhh. That's about as much emotion as I can muster. This book (and this entire series) is very well-loved so I'm definitely in the minority here...but I just felt like what I read wasn't that special, nor amazing, nor fresh in any way.
Don't get me wrong—the potential was all there. I will give credit where credit is due and say that Marissa Meyer wrote a really interesting world. Cyborgs, plagues, enemy colonies on the moon... It felt like a blend of sci-fi, fairy tale, and dystopian to me. However, I think Marissa Meyer kind of wasted the potential her entire world had in an effort to get to what we all know REALLY matters: the romance. *eye roll*
Again, I'll give credit where credit is due: the romance wasn't rushed nor was it obvious and all in-your-face. However, the whole plot of the story felt muddled, as if the author was flying over any important character development and world building she could have done just so Cinder and Kai could meet...and meet...and meet...
Perhaps I'm being overly harsh. I did finish the whole book and I didn't feel overly bored at any part. It was reasonable. However, I never really felt a thrill at any point, either. The romance was subtle and downplayed, which normally I like, but for all of the BUILD towards it, it had a very abrupt cliffhanger sort of ending which irked me. A character important to Cinder apparently was killed off early just to give Cinder some emotional pain and it felt so...flat. Fake. It felt literally like the author was moving from plot device to plot device to keep the story going. Important character dies so Cinder can have some emotions. Other character does something horrible so Cinder has an excuse to go to the palace and run into Kai. It's not that these things ruined the story—but I wish there had been MORE to go along with these parts. More emotions, more back story, more world building, more exploration of the city around Cinder, more exploration of society, just...more.
I couldn't bring myself to get attached to Cinder! She didn't have that emotional pull for me and I don't know why. She seemed to be suffering from Katniss Everdeen Syndrome: things happened TO her in order for her to STATE that she was feeling emotions...but I, as a reader, never really felt her emotions with her. I never really felt like she was real. Her sorrow, her hurt, her happiness—they all felt rather flat.
Kai's emotions were a little clearer than Cinder's but he wasn't that relatable, either. I have a hard time liking royal characters who seem unprepared to take the throne. It doesn't seem realistic to me. They've been groomed to be the king/queen/emperor/whatever their whole lives, they ought to be a bit more confident. And Kai just seemed totally clueless. Like, I could have been a better emperor than he was planning to be.
It wasn't an awful book. It had just enough action, subtle romance, exposition, and winks to the fairy tale of Cinderella to keep me reading. I just didn't feel very excited to read the next book in the series after. Maybe it's just me; I personally did not click with the book. It felt like beautiful potential...squandered in a slightly juvenile book. She could have done better, in my opinion, written a more mature book with depth. I expected a lot more, due to the hype. I expected more action, more emotion, more plot twists, a bigger plot, more drama, more history, more social justice commentary on the bigotry and slavery that cyborgs face (which, by the way, the author NEVER REALLY ADDRESSED? She literally threw bigotry and prejudice in as a plot point but never addressed it as a topic of concern or something to fix?)... I mean, with the dystopian world she created plus the Cinderalla aspect, she had SO MUCH to work with—and yet she only used about 20% of that material to create a dull, two-dimensional main character who stated how she felt most of the time and wasn't relatable at all.
Plus, I figured out the main plot in like the first 50 pages. That's definitely not a good sign. Again, it felt juvenile when I read it, like she had written a book for much younger readers. My 12-year-old sister is reading it and seems to really like it, so... *shrug*
Cover: It's striking, I'll grant that. It definitely caught my eye in stores and online—and yet I never felt the urge to really pick it up and read the synopsis or read it at all. Perhaps there's some sort of force field around this book keeping me from loving it the way others have? Ha.
Overall Grade: C+