A classic fairy tale re-told in a steam punk universe should have been a lot more fun to read than Cinder ended up being.
Part of this could be that I’m not necessarily the target audience for this book. It’s from the young adult section and I can easily see how young readers entranced by the Twilight novels might lap this one up with a spoon. (Add to the conveniences, Cinder is written by an author who shares the last name Meyer. And don’t think I wasn’t thinking that Marissa Meyer must somehow be related to Stephanie Meyer as I read this one). However, I’ve heard a lot of buzz for this book among readers who aren’t necessarily the Bella/Edward/Jacob demographic.
I can’t help but think they’re going to be a bit disappointed as well.
The novel starts off well, introducing us to Cinder, a cyborg who lives with her step-mother and step-sisters. She’s good at repairing items and keeps her adopted family afloat, despite the scorn and ridicule she regularly receives. Cinder even has her own version of a talking mouse as her one friend.
Thrown into are several other elements included a deadly disease that can strike without warning and is currently killing the ruler of Earth. There’s also a conflict with the rulers of the Moon and there’s also a dash of lingering questions about the true nature of Cinder’s identity.
The questions surrounding Cinder and her role in the political game being played are a bit too obviously foreshadowed. I guessed the revelation that is supposed to be the hook for the next novel in the series a couple of hundred pages before the novel got around to telling us what it was. That lead to large portions of the middle of the book feeling like they were treading water, waiting for the inevitable revelation and for something to actually spark the plot and move it forward.
Of course, there’s also a romantic angle of the apparent attraction between Cinder and the prince who is thrust into ruling the realm. And while we all know where it’s headed, I do wish Meyer had put a bit more originality into the journey to the inevitable destination.
Ultimately, I came away from Cinder disappointed that the story has such potential but doesn’t live up to it. It also suffers from the “series-itis” plaguing so many of today’s new releases. The novel works too hard to set-up a long term story which will sell lots of future installments while failing to make the characters or universe interesting enough to make more than just mildly curious to return and see how all these things play out. This is another book that makes the argument that sometimes having a single, stand-alone novel is a better idea than a watered down series.