We have the ability to love each other, no matter our differences. To help each other, no matter our weaknesses.
I first came across Cinder by Marissa Meyer in 2012 at a time when I’d been dejectedly hopping from disappointing book to disappointing book in search of a new read that I would actually enjoy. I think, as it goes, I just wasn’t in the mood for another re-read of a book I actually liked.
As the story goes, finding Cinder was wholly accidental. Scarlet was already out and from a cursory look at the covers—which are absolutely gorgeous, by the way—my initial reaction was to assume that the entire series was going to be just as disappointing as the last book I’d read. After all, those covers did look very much like they were advertising books to a 12-year-old market. To be frank, I think it was the color. If you’ve ever spent a lot of time reading middle grade books, which I have, you’ll notice that color is something they’re pretty good with. So, while I did find it visually appealing to look at, I was ultimately comparing it to all those young reader books that, while I’m fond of, I’d never actually fallen in love with.
My expectations for Cinder were pretty low. From the summary, the book sounded fantastic. Cyborg Cinderella? Sign me up! But then, I had my misgivings based largely on a plethora of cool looking and sounding novels having been vastly disappointing. But I had nothing better to read and I was in need of some new material. So, I got both Cinder and Scarlet, fully expecting to either come away thinking they’d been okay reads, but were nothing amazing, or hating them entirely.
And then I read the book.
It feels somewhat silly of me to say it, but Cinder was pretty life changing for me. In the strangest of ways, it genuinely gave me new energy. I’d found the series at a time when I’d been going through a lot, and not to delve too deeply into the matter, but I’d been pretty depressed. I started writing again after reading this book, which was something that I had been avoiding for quite a lot of time. Sophomore year of college was hard for many reasons and Cinder made it a little easier. Sometimes I’ve wondered if this explains why I feel so close to the book series, but then I very much doubt that I would still be this in love with it all these years later. And besides, I’d only read the first two.
Cinder begins with a young cyborg girl and a job in the desperate times of an earth ridden with plague, one a very real and deadly disease and the other…a very real and deadly disease—tyrant, Queen Levana of the moon. It’s pretty safe to say that, simply the knowledge that this book is a Cinderella retelling gives you the basis for where the plot is going to go. It doesn’t take long for the reader to figure out what the plot twist near the end of the book will be. And yet, even knowing this does not detract once from how amazing the story, the characters, and Meyer’s superb writing is. I remember being absolutely blown away the moment I learned that this was her debut novel.
Some people are simply amazing.
We meet Prince Kaito of the Eastern Commonwealth, depositing his malfunctioning android atop our cyborg Cinderella’s mechanic’s booth, with a desperate and almost painfully idealistic hope for how to respond to the ever present threat that the Queen of the Moon presents to both his country and the planet Earth. A plague tears through the population of the planet, setting the scene for the dire situation the world is in. And naturally, no Cinderella story would be complete without the awful stepmother, stepsister, and quirky sidekick, all of which we meet quite early on in the story. And each one is written beautifully.
Meyer manages to blend her story together with the perfect pacing, something that I’ve noticed can sometimes be quite difficult for authors to achieve. Her characters are exceptionally developed and I’d be remiss if I did not say that I fell in love with nearly every single one of them from the very beginning. Though predictable at times, Meyer’s story is so beautifully written and her characters so fantastic that the predictability of a fairy-tale retelling literally does not matter at all. There are certainly enough differences between the material that inspired the story and the final product to truly capture and amaze readers.
I’ve always loved this story. I couldn’t tell you which re-read this was for me, though I imagine I’m well into double digits at this point. And as always, I fall in love with the story more and more each time, feeling as though a part of me has been left behind when I finally turn that last page. Fortunately, after Cinder, there are still quite a few books left for me to read again, so there’s a little excitement burbling, too.