Friday, December 07, 2012

Happily Ever After Has Never Been This Exciting

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

You know how it is when you're sorta reluctant to read a book, then someone whose opinion you trust totally raves about it, so you read it and fall head over heels in love and then you feel dumb for your initial hesitation?  Yeah?  Well, that's exactly what happened with Cinder by Marissa Meyer.  The ARC sat on my shelf for over a year before I wised up and (with a gentle nudge from Sarah over at Sarah's YA Blog ) gave it a try.  Turns out, it offers everything I've ever wanted in a novel—an inventive plot, compelling characters, solid writing, and strong voice.  Not surprisingly, I adored it.  

The story takes place in the not-too-distant future in the crowded city of New Beijing.  Here, as in other parts of the world, humans and androids live and work side-by-side.  Sixteen-year-old Linh Cinder is neither human nor robot, but a cyborg.  Her mixed composition makes her an outcast, a second-class citizen.  Even at home with her step family, Cinder's treated like a servant.  The only place she feels comfortable is in the marketplace, where she spends her days fixing broken 'bots.  Her stepmother keeps 100% of the profits from Cinder's popular market stall, but at least Cinder's allowed to spend most of her time away from home. That small freedom makes the long hours of work worth it. 

A vicious plague is sweeping through the land and a cunning lunar queen watches with interest from the moon, waiting for just the right moment to attack.  Despite the tumult, Cinder's life goes on as always—until a handsome prince stops by her booth.  Cinder's shocked to her core to meet the gorgeous king-to-be.  She's even more surprised when he treats her like an actual human and not just any human, but one he wants to know better.  There's only one problem—Prince Kai doesn't know Cinder's a cyborg.  If he did, he wouldn't be talking to her, let alone inviting her to the royal ball.  

Cinder knows better than to trust this fairy tale turn in her life.  She vows to put all thoughts of Kai out of her cyborg brain, a feat which turns out to be much more difficult than she ever imagined.  Especially when she's recruited to be a guinea pig for the king's royal scientists, who are desperately searching for a cure to the plague that's decimating what remains of the human race.  As the citizens of New Beijing prepare themselves for annihilation—either by pestilence or war—one of them makes the startling realization that she's their secret weapon.  Will Cinder sacrifice her meaningless cyborg life to save the people who have always scorned her?  Can she come clean about who she really is if it means losing the man she loves?  And, most importantly, what will happen when she discovers the alarming truth about her mysterious past?  

I know, right?  Not only does the premise sound intriguing, it is intriguing.  Meyer does everything right in her debut novel, the first in a quartet of "rebooted" fairy tales that tell the story of Cinder's struggle to find her place in a panicked, dying world.  Our heroine is entirely sympathetic, mostly because she doesn't whine about her situation, but endures it with grace and fortitude.  Still, she's no simpering Disney Cinderella—she's strong and funny, a kick-A heroine if I ever saw one.  Although Cinder's story mirrors the classic fairy tale, it's got so much more to offer than the original.  An exciting blend of dystopian, sci-fi, romance and adventure, Cinder should not be missed.  Just see if you don't agree—Happily Ever After has never been this exciting.      

(Readalikes:  I'm sure there are other clever Cinderella retellings, but I can't think of any.  Besides Scarlet, Cinder's sequel, I'm drawing a blank here.  Help?)

Grade:  A

If this were a movie, it would be rated:  PG for mild language, violence and scenes of peril

To the FTC, with love:  I received an ARC of Cinder from the generous folks at Feiwel and Friends (an imprint of Macmillan).  Thank you!




5 comments:

  1. Yes! So glad you got to this book and loved it as much as I did. It's definitely one of my favorite Cinderella retellings.

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  2. I think I'll be adding this to my "to be read" list...that darn list just keeps growing!!!

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  3. Yay! We agree on another book. :) Funny that you waited so long. I've done that.

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  4. Yep! I definitely need to put this at the top of my list now.

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  5. It's hard to type while giving myself a pat on the back! Hahaha!
    I LOVE it when I think a book won't be my cup of tea and then it's my big ol' glass of super sweet tea with two lemon wedges...in other words: fabulous! :) That was my experience with Cinder. I can't WAIT for Scarlet. Can. Not. Wait. ;) *happy dance!*
    Sarah @ Sarah's YA Blog

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