I’ll be short with this review. I wasn’t sure I would like this book. It seemed everyone was reading it, and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Since Cinder was YA, a fairy tale retelling, and the first book of a series, though, it had quite a few personal marks against it before I began. I sort of expected to pick it up from the library, read a few pages, and turn it back in unread. But I didn’t. I was hooked right from the first chapter.
The writing is good, far better than I expected it to be. I loved the world-building, and the careful way the original fairy tale unfolded in this format. I liked that it was set in future-world China, which is not something I’ve ever read before, and I do hope more of that is explored in future installments. I loved the cyborgs and learning about the prejudices that evolved in this world.
There were things I didn’t like as well. I thought the book would have been ten times better if 1) it was a standalone novel with a straight-forward ending, and 2) the whole lunar people part of the plot had been left out completely. I found the lunar people plot to be both superfluous and extraordinarily predictable. There’s a small detail mentioned in the first 50 pages of the book that is obvious instantly, but turns out to be the “big reveal” at the end of Cinder, which was a let-down because it wasn’t really a reveal at all. All the lunar stuff bogged down the ending and made it both rushed and confusing, not to mention the grates-on-my-nerves-by-now lack of any closure. If that subplot had been left out and Cinder had been a standalone focusing on plague and cyborg prejudice, I personally think it would have been a more solid book.
But that’s just my opinion, and I know others will disagree. And regardless of my irritation at all of that, I do plan to read the next book in the series when it comes out. I really liked the story and the characters and the world that Cinder was set in. I do wonder how the rest of the books will pan out since nearly all of the Cinderella tale is told in this one…