Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

This book just didn't do it for me.  Often, a retelling of a classic story is a fun ride. These aren't great gourmet meals, but yummy little snacks.  In the past few years I've read some really enjoyable homages to favorite books.  They've run the gamut from sequel (ish) books to YA treatments and modern day retellings.  A good tale is a good tale, it can handle the extra attention. Look at the King Arthur legend. I think hundreds of authors have tackled this story.  T.H. White and John Steinbeck and Meg Cabot, for example. You can't get too much more diverse of a group than that.

Cinder, clearly a retelling of Cinderella.  Meyer uses a little of the Joss Whedon treatment.  If you've seen Firefly, then you will understand the concept.  In Whedon's television show starring the incomparable Nathan Fillion, our Earth has been destroyed and humans went out in search of a new Earth, or Earths as the case may be. In this case, it's sort of Wild West, with people exploring the new frontiers, but with a strong Asian flavor, since the majority of people are Chinese. Makes sense, right?  Cinder takes place in a future Beijing.  The titular character here is part human, part machine, which equates to all machine in her world.  She was adopted by a man who died shortly thereafter and sent to live with his wife and their two daughters.  Cinder is property and she's a master mechanic. She has a stall in a crowded marketplace and spends most of her time trying not to give away that she's part machine.

At the same time, the Earth is reeling from a new plague, the King is dying, and the Lunars are making a play for power, and they have a lot of it. The current leader of the "Lunars" has assured her position of power by killing all the people who could have a right to rule.  There is some speculation that there is a missing princess, proper heir to the throne, who escaped and is out there somewhere. I wonder who that could be.

Prince, with dying father, will be sworn in as the new emperor, even though he doesn't feel up to it, finds he's falling for the cute mechanic who is fixing his nanny  robot, that just happened to be looking up information about the possibly live heir to the Lunar throne.  Of course, the father has the plague and the cyborg/mechanic girl is not only immune, but may be the key to a cure.

I found the story to be kind of tiresome, because I knew it was based on Cinderella, it didn't take a whole lot of guessing to figure out what was going on and who everyone would be.  I struggled through, hoping it would improve.  I just can't believe that Meyer made a series out of this.  I just can't do it.  I can't read another.

On the plus side, it's better than Jenna Starborn, a really horrible science fiction retelling of Jane Eyre. Still, if you are looking for a good series, or a good remake of a classic or favorite story, I could come up with a long list of books I'd much rather spend my time with.

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