Cinder by Marissa Meyer is a YA sci-fi novel and is the first in a series of four books based on classic fairytales. This first one is based on Perrault’s Cinderella. Many elements of the original are incorporated: the persecuted heroine, the wicked stepmother and stepsisters, Prince Charming, a ball at the palace, the protagonist’s desire to attend thwarted by her stepmother, the pumpkin turned coach, footwear left on the palace step.
Cinderella is an interesting choice for the basis of a YA novel. Generally speaking, YA heroines tend to be strong, proactive heroines (we’ll try to forget Bella Swan for a moment). This fairytale princess is the epitome of a passive character. In part, that is why the tale is so beloved. The idea that a fairy godmother could suddenly whisk you away from your humdrum existence to a life of luxury and privilege is very appealing to many people. it’s the ultimate rags to riches story. As a character though Cinderella is, well, boring. She does very little to earn her happy ending other than to be generally nice.
Fortunately, that is one aspect that Meyer did change for her novel. Her Cinder is strong, assertive and willing to go after what she wants. Having said that, just as Cinderella’s innate goodness leads to her life being changed, Meyer’s Cinder’s cyborg nature has a significant influence on her life. The one major aspect not carried over from the fairytale is the fairy godmother (or magic tree, depending on what version you’re looking at.) Meyer’s Cinder doesn’t hang around waiting for someone to come along to wave a magic wand to change her life. Certainly, she starts off the story in a comparatively powerless position, but she doesn’t sit around passively and wait for her fairy godmother to improve her life, she goes out and works for what she needs. She needs transport; she gets out and gets her hands dirty by fixing up a car. In essence, Cinder is her own fairy godmother.
Like Cinder, Meyer’s Prince Charming has a lot more depth than the prince of the fairytale. We can see just what a difficult position he is in. I have the impression that things are only going to become more difficult for Kai as the series progresses.
What I liked
Sci-fi twists of the classic tropes of the tale. I just loved how Meyer incorporated all the favourite aspects of the original but gave them a wonderful sci-fi twist. I had such fun playing spot the original.
Wonderful characters. As I have mentioned above, the protagonists of Cinder are such wonderful rich characters and I loved reading about them.
The narration. Rebecca Soler performed the narration for Cinder – as she does for the other two released/soon to be released books in the series. I absolutely adored her reading of the book. She gave each of the characters unique voices which fit perfectly with my mental picture of them, and she brought out Cinder’s humour too. Here’s a sample.
What I didn’t like
There was nothing I didn’t enjoy about Cinder – except that it wasn’t long enough! I’d have happily read a book twice as thick.
As you might have guessed I gave Cinder five stars out of five.