Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .
Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future
Okay, I admit it. This book was always on my radar, but I never made any active efforts to get my hands on it, let alone read it. I’m not the biggest fan of the genre where you re-tell a classic tale (not just fairytales, though that’s what relevant here), but that wasn’t the biggest reason I never got around to it. No, the biggest reason I always passed on it can be attributed to one thing: the hype.
The Lunar Chronicles is one of the YA communities most beloved series. I’ve pretty much never seen a negative word said against it. That is a lot of hype and a lot to live up to. I’m not a fan of hype, and I’m all too weary that hype will kill a book.
So why did I finally sit down and read this given that this book combines two things I’m not a fan of? Fierce Reads.
The Fierce Reads tour is swinging by LA this week. The OCD completionist in me demands I get my copy of Ruin and Rising signed, and she’s going to be there along with a few other authors. Since I’m making the trip anyway, I thought I’d finally check it out.
So all that said, how did it fare?
Better than I expected. It was a fun, easy read and my quibbles (below) are really fairly minor. I don’t think the book has won me over either on the genre, nor necessarily convinced me to read the sequels, but I fully understand why this series is so beloved.
As you’d expect, this is a retelling of Cinderella. There are some twists on the formula, but the arc generally follows the beats of the classic tale: you see her getting consistently harassed by her step mother and one of her step sisters, you see that she gets denied going to the ball, she makes it to the ball anyway. It’s pretty standard. One bit I didn’t like – the whole plot more or less hinges on the fact that Cinder is basically “owned” by her stepmother because she’s a cyborg – a human/android mix. There’s no reason given other than “that’s the law.” It’s kind of sloppy, especially since the plot LITERALLY could not play out the way it did without this fact. You can get away with skimpy world building in a fairy tale, because it’s a short and it’s meant to be a kind of morality play. This is a full on novel. You have the time to expand on your world. Use it. Luckily, she does do a pretty good job of otherwise explaining the mechanics of her larger world. It’s not the most unique, but it works for the tale she’s trying to tell.
Cinder is likable character and Meyer did a nice job of making her sympathetic. I personally don’t get the swooning over Kai, he’s a generic Good Guy Prince. There’s nothing too remarkable about him.
Finally, the book ends with a plot twist and cliff hanger. It’s not really THAT much of a surprise of a twist, but at least the cliff hanger ends in a natural spot and the book does feel more or less complete so no complaints there.
If it seems like I’m struggling to find something to say, it’s because there just isn’t much TO say. It’s Cinderella with sci-fi skin, and to its credit, it does what it sets out to do quite well. If the idea sounds up you’re alley, you’ll almost certainly like it.
Verdict: Buy It
Availability: The full trilogy is available now