The Lunar Chronicles: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

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The Lunar Chronicles: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A brilliant mix of old and new, as the panto story gets completely revamped.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 400 Date: January 2012
Publisher: Puffin
ISBN: 978-0141340135

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This Cinderella does not have to sweep the grate and clean the dishes - she has to mend maglev vehicle tracks. This Cinders does not leave her shoe behind when invited to the ball, she has her entire foot fall off. This Cinder does not live in a realm of fairy queens and pumpkin carriages, but New Beijing, a massive city of just two and a half million, due to the Fourth World War. She's a cyborg - hence the foot, but she's still owned by a crotchety bigot of a step-mother, with two step-sisters. And this is a very different world, where a global plague is going to be brought too close to home...

You'll have to trust me on this one, I'm afraid, more so than ever. I sent my friend a summary of this plot the other day on a social network, and even I had to agree it sounded ridiculous. But nowhere is it that. I'm in admiration for how the blend of proper sci-fi adventure and old-time fairytale works. There is the gushy romance bit, caused by unlikely Princely visits. There is something weird about the moon, as in all good fairy tales - this time a Lunar Colony whose Queen is a queen bitch. There is the traditional foot/shoe, the faithful companion (robot) and even a touch of Pinocchio, what with the cyborg parts.

What Meyer has done, mostly with the poltiics of Earth versus the moonmen, and with the plague scenario, is take a good story, and only make it better by bringing in bits we recognise from centuries-old tales. It is in fact hard to work out what got added to what, and where this book actually originated. It is, remarkably, a perfect match.

Add to that the fact that this is the first book in a quartet, and future volumes will focus on revisiting Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Snow White, and you're in a very envious position of working out how the continuing saga will successfully encompass all four tales. Part of my Bookbag star rating has to be for the optimism this book brings, therefore - if Meyer pulls them all off as well as she does this one, this will be a series to make her as well-known as her near namesake.

So, while I'm left with tapping my fingers waiting for her to write and publish the rest of the story, I just have to appreciate this first quarter. The style is fine - nothing too fancy, with dialogue-heavy scenes driving the plot just as well as the narrative brings in any exposition in a manner belying this book's first novel status. Characters are balanced between lightly drawn and complex, the plot has some hugely guessable beats but is still interesting throughout and, most importantly, if anything will make sci-fi trendy for girls 10-15, it is going to be something like this.

I'm full of hope that these Lunar Chronicles are going to burgeon into one of those omnipresent franchises. It might, however, given time, turn out to be just too good for that.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

Quality sci-fi for this audience is thin on the ground. Books such as Uglies by Scott Westerfeld and its sequels are too seldom found.

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Buy The Lunar Chronicles: Cinder by Marissa Meyer at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Lunar Chronicles: Cinder by Marissa Meyer at


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