Cinder by Marissa Meyer
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
Buddy read with Ange and Cory
No spoilers, I'll let the author do that for you in the first 10%, colorful language abound!
Expectations are a hell of a thing, aren't they? They take something that would have been mediocre at best and instead it is revealed as the worst offense of all, the failure to live up to it's own potential. You know what I was thinking of when hearing about a retelling of Cinderella who happens to be a fucking cyborg living in China? Malevolent characters, political motive, social commentary, rich culture, sinister plot twists, and a tribute to the Cinderella fairytale we all know and love. I was buzzing with excitement. Instead it was an obvious, boring, slow paced, shallow, poorly executed loosely strung together heap of inconsistencies.
Just because it's a retelling does not mean you need to know the plot within the first 10% of the book, I think the challenge of a retelling is finding a way to surprise the reader, make them think they know what's happening and then pull the rug out from beneath them. The foreshadowing was slathered so thick it was impossible to get lost in the story of it all, we all have an idea of how it's going to end but at least give us a chance to get there on our own, dammit!
The world building is abysmal. The setting is in the Commonwealth as though that is supposed to mean something, in a city called New Beijing indicating is some where in/near/around China, but then again I live in New Jersey and we are quite far away from Jersey found in the UK. Aside from a mention of sticky buns, dumplings and a Buddha statue at the palace there is no mention of Asian culture. Apparently, the time frame is something called T.E. however that is not explained, either (it was referred to as 125 T.E.) so CLEARLY something has happened 125 somethings ago however who the heck knows.
The characters are nondescript at best. Kai might as well be a ken doll. Don't even get me started on how as the only heir to the throne was never groomed to RUN HIS KINGDOM, so he dawdles around sharing secrets with a girl he doesn't even know acting like a total twatwaffle. Cinder is this flat typical just vague enough MC. I feel nothing for her really, although I really wanted to.
My biggest and most rage inducing plot hole is the enslaving and discrimination of the cyborgs. The prejudice is not explained nor explored in this book and is down right contradictory in nature. It's made clear that this is superior technology that comes at great cost to the person to install and maintain. It is a living breathing testament to the brilliance of science, where highly educated men and women blend mechanics and biology. Sophisticated pieces of machinery are installed into people where the human brain can communicate and control a mechanical limb! This reads to me as a privilege available to those who can afford it, the affluent minority. When a small group of people have access to anything difficult to obtain without large sums of money it becomes elusive, prestigious, sought after, rare and does not translate to the prejudice experienced here. Money, power and influence tend to be intertwined, there is no justifiable reason the affluent minority would subject themselves to any loss of power or influence. Let alone forfeit their human rights to become property of their guardians, a stock to be bought and sold when needed. In most cases this appears to be a life saving procedure or to give the basic component to quality of life, I can only liken that to a individual who has a prosthetic limb, cochlear implant, pacemaker, artificial heart valve, wheelchair, implantable cardioverter defibrillator, etc and these are revered as a blessing. You do not see a woman with a prosthetic leg and pull your child to the other side of the street in fear and disgust. Furthermore this is a society entirely saturated with and by technological advances, the fact that it an integral part of the medical field seems organic and natural, not something feared and discriminated against. This major plot hole could have easily been addressed by the author, had we simply been given a reason . There was no indication that the cyborgs have any great advantage over the humans (strength, mental processing, etc), they come across as fairly regular to be honest so the fear of something different does not apply here. I read lots of fantasy novels of all kinds, I am willing to take large leaps and bounds in a new world to which I am unfamiliar if given a strong pillar to build off of. This has no credibility as a plot point, the assumed bigotry against cyborgs that have become more machine than person does not fit here either. Our experience with Cinder shows her to have all the human processes and emotions, because she is a person, who just so happens to have some machine parts that kept her alive . There is no loss of humanity and no ambiguous network that controls them much like an android in an army, she is an individual not an indentured servant.
The only aspect of this book that I didn't find aggravating or boring was the Lunars, and all the Lunar weirdness. I am so curious about them as a whole that I'm actually considering reading Scarlet... I do own it already. Anyways, this book is obvious when it should be mysterious, vague when it should be clear, read at your own risk!
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