Honest and lively YA book reviews
There are incredible advances going on right now in the development of artificial body parts. Amazingly sensitive prosthetic hands have been created that react to chemical and bio-electric impulses through the skin, as opposed to the previous technology that worked off the far less precise to read and respond muscle contractions. Prosthetic legs which respond to the terrain and speed of the walker or runner automatically are now available. Scientists have built an entire artificial heart to reduce the desperation for donations and reduce or even remove the risk of rejection. This stuff is incredible life changing and in some cases life saving. This is my main beef with Cinder .... Why are Cyborgs considered second class citizens?
Being able to replace lost or damaged limbs or organs with a robotic equivalent is something to be marvelled at, celebrated and thankful for. And yet, in Cinder even a guy made up of only 6% cyborg parts (so we're talking a replaced foot here) is treated with disdain and ordered to give his life to medical research. What's that all about?!
These people have not lost their humanity. They have a human brain with which to think and feel and relate to others. Cinder herself has some retinal enhancements, the ability to view a newsfeed via the net via her brain, but she still has a brain, a human brain. She can still feel love, and hope and fear, sorrow and joy. So why is she labelled as inhuman, a thing to be owned and used as her "wicked stepmother" /legal guardian, Adri sees fit? I truly couldn't get my head around this, and unfortunately it somewhat ruined my enjoyment of the book. I say unfortunately as mostly I thought Cinder was great, really great. But this whole Cyborg vs human debacle was a huge stumbling block because to me it is simply nonsensical.
So the basic story goes, Cinder is a Cyborg, a girl repaired and pieced together with metal parts following a horrible accident when she was 11 years old. She is "owned" by Adri, who puts her to good use, placing heavy restrictions on her and making it perfectly clear to Cinder that her life is not her own. Cinder meets the prince Kai one morning at the market where he requests that she fixes a robot he owns. Their lives become entangled, secrets are discovered and a whole lotta shit goes down.
Cinder is a pretty cool heroine. She's gutsy, she's brave, she's determined. Cinder is largely plot driven, so the characterisation is a little sketchy on the detail but we still get a good sense of Cinder and who she is. I enjoyed her independence and I hugely enjoyed the fact that the story never revolved around any kind of romance, which is incredibly typical and incredibly tedious in this genre. Cinder had her own plans to run to Europe and live her life, and this did not revolve around a man. Sure, her plans were screwed when she realised she had to warn the prince, but that was more motivated by her need to do the right thing by the people and her country so much as any great adoration for Prince Kai. I respected Cinder for that. She had her head screwed on right that chick. However ..... She didn't proceed without her blunders.
Holy crap, Cinder made some poor choices. It almost felt like she just lost her mind at times, like it just fell out the back of that panel in her head, landing with a soft splat on the asphalt. Some of her decisions were just bizarre. Like, why oh why did she rock up to the palace when she had been told in so many words that if she showed face there she would be killed. No question. At that time, there was no need for her to be there. It was a social call and it could have waited! She decided she was going to fix the car she discovered at the junk yard. Fine. That's great. Cool idea. But! She failed to replace the headlights or test the goddam brakes, resulting in her crashing into a fucking cherry tree. What a dumbass. I mean, I don't drive or anything but I was of the understanding that headlights and brakes are a pretty integral part of the driving experience ....
The whole thing with Cinder waltzing in and out of the quarantine area even after she learns that the virus can survive for up to an hour on clothing really bugged me. Quarantine means secure control of who comes into contact with the residents of the area. And yet the medroids allow Cinder to stroll in and out of there whenever she pleases, damn the fact she could be transmitting the virus to any number of people she bumps into as she saunters home through the city. I found this a weird situation. For a virus that is literally wiping out thousands of the population and is fatal with currently no known cure there are very little precautions going on to prevent spread. Yes, people were mourning for lost loved ones but no-one seemed to be taking it very seriously in terms of avoiding contracting the disease. It almost felt like they had all given in to the inevitability of catching Letumosis. It was weird ....
I'm not saying I didn't enjoy the concept of a deadly plague sweeping the Earth, I did. I thought it was a good device with which to up the tension and create a certain urgency to the characters actions. I was just disappointed with the execution of the situation. Like, why wasn't Adri more involved in the progression of the disease within her own daughter Peony? Why did Pearl appear to not even give a shit? Why could Dr Erland not create a cure when the answer lay within his very own blood? Why were the incredibly poor conditions provided for sufferers not more widely reported and tackled? SO MANY UNANSWERED QUESTIONS!!
Prince Kai was just blah. He was very childish considering he was directly next in line for the throne. Some of his responses to his advisors and the Lunar Queen Levana were plain embarrassing. I couldn't work out why he was so obsessed with Cinder, unless he simply wanted to use her as a pretty thing to hang on his arm. He barely talked to her, never asked her about herself. Their relationship wasn't very genuine. However, I felt he had his priorities straight and was focused on doing the best thing for his country and citizens so I won't come down too heavily on him.
The plot, generally was a blast. Although I guessed the end within the first 100 or so pages, the journey was super good fun so to be honest I didn't care. It was a well structured and fabulously paced story, only briefly losing momentum half way through. The style of the writing didn't blow me away and was slightly clunky at times but whatevs. It didn't matter. I had fun reading this and that's pretty awesome.
Cinder had it's faults to me but generally I thought it was great. The idea of reworking an old fairy tale is a fantastic idea. I'm not sure if it worked entirely but it was a good framework to build on. I didn't feel like the author really stuck to the basic story of Cinderella closely enough for it have a major impact and I'm in two minds wether this was a good thing or a bad thing. Part if me feels disappointed (I loved Cinderella when I was a little kid) and part of me is relieved as it means to story is fresh and new, yet feels comfortably familiar. I learned that the author is using the basic structure of different fairy tales for the following books in the series which is pretty neat.
Peace out everyone!