Audiobook Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

30 01 2012

Cinder by Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles, Bk. 1)

Read by Rebecca Soler

Macmillan Audio

Length: 10 Hrs 6Min

Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction

Quick Thoughts: Meyer has created a fascinating world with a dark undercurrent that should appeal to fans of science fiction and fantasy, whether adult or otherwise. The story was strong enough that the tie ins with the fairy tale were not really needed, but did add a fun element to the overall tale.

Grade: B+

Sometimes I feel like I have read a little too much science fiction and fantasy. You see, I used to be a fan of The Big Twist. I loved to be shocked, utterly surprised by some unforeseen event. Heck, I loved being surprised by the very existence of a big twist. I remember when I first saw The Sixth Sense. I had no clue about the movie. I hadn’t read reviews or researched the film at all. In fact, the only reason I went was because my friend suggested that be the movie we see, and that the writer/director M. Night Shyamalan was a Philly area filmmaker. I remember when the big moment came; a wave of surprise took over the crowded theatre. This wasn’t a stunned silence, but a mumbling revelation. Why I think this twist totally blew me away, was I had no idea a huge twist was coming. I had no idea a small twist was coming. This is why I hate spoilers. For me, personally, even talking about a big twist ending is a sort of a spoiler. Yet, in science fiction and fantasy, I rarely am surprised by twists anymore. Let’s face it, if there is an orphaned boy working as n indentured servant in the beginning of a fantasy novel, there is probably a missing heir to the thrown of the Kingdom. So lately, I have gone into my readings not really needing to be surprised. I have found that I can enjoy the beauty of the storytelling whether it is predictable or not. So, occasionally I am shocked by a twist, but now, I would much rather have a fully realized world, full of well developed characters then to be learn that Luke Skywalker is actually Darth Vader’s son.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer is a scifi reimagining of the classic Cinderella fairytale. It centers on Linh Cinder, a young girl who after being severely burned in a hover accident had a significant portion of her body replaced by robotics. This makes Cinder an Android and considered less than human by the culture, and the property of her less than gracious stepmother. Cinder is a beautifully told story of a young girl on the outskirts of society who finds herself in a position she never imagined when she meets the charming Prince Kai. What jumps out about this novel is the vividness of the settings. Cinder takes place in a fully realized city of New Beijing in the Asian Commonwealth. Despite its base in the Cinderella Tale, which I felt sometimes the author unnecessarily forced aspects of into the plot, Cinder is full of more original ideas. The Asian Commonwealth is fighting a battle against a sweeping plague that has decimated the royal family as well as the impoverished and the Prince must deal with that, as well as a potential war with powerful enemy. Meyer tempts her readers with glimpses of the mysterious Lunar Empire and the strange powers some of its people possess. All these elements created a fascinating world, which Meyer fills with compelling characters. As this is a YA novel, I did become frustrated a bit with some of the characters and their decisions making but, heck, they were teenagers and as a relatively grumpy old man I often become frustrated with real life teenagers as well. Cinder has its twists, but for the most part they were the "see them from a mile away" type, but that was OK. Where Cinder excelled was in its storytelling and world building. Meyer has created a fascinating world with a dark undercurrent that should appeal to fans of science fiction and fantasy, whether adult or otherwise. The story was strong enough that the tie ins with the fairy tale were not really needed, but did add a fun element to the overall tale.

I enjoyed Rebecca Soler’s narration of Cinder. She has a nice, strong voice that worked well for young characters and old. She deftly captured the pacing of the story, and had a storyteller’s flair. I had one small complaint though. Marissa Meyers created a wonderful Asian setting for the novel, and I would have loved a bit more exotic flavor in the character voices. OK, I am not asking for a stereotypical Asian accent, or some offensive cartoonish cadence and mispronunciation. Just a flavor of something more. Cinder’s voice was strong and sure, but sounded pretty much middle American to me. Soler did a wonderful job with the Lunar characters, giving them unique vocalizations, and I would have loved for her to do something like that for Cinder, something more than just using her narrative voice. This small quibble is mostly about making an already good audiobook even better and wouldn’t affect the experience at all for most listeners. Cinder is the first book in a quartet of novels called The Lunar Chronicles and I am excited to see where Meyer takes Cinder and the other characters in the future.

 

While this blog hasn’t really got into the whole Giveaway thing, there are a few Cinder Audiobook giveaways going on at other fine blogs. I will include a few here, but they are all ending pretty soon, so act quickly. Otherwise, you can order Cinder at Audible, or check your library’s Overdrive System (which is where I got mine.) Here are the links to the Giveaways.

Bookalicious

Almost Grown-Up 

The Book Cellar

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5 responses

30 01 2012
Pam

I loved this book!

30 01 2012
Lucy

I found the audio of Cinder very entertaining too. Glad you enjoyed it. I agree with you that the worldbuilding was done very well. That’s a good point that the story holds up on it’s own and didn’t even really need the fairytale tie-in, though it is fun. I wonder how the series would play out without the fairy tale aspect?
I can see your point about the narration, and that it could have been a little more exotic, though I think RS did a great job.
Excellent review as always.

1 02 2012
Leslie

I loved this book so much. I think the “big twist” was telegraphed so early on that it wasn’t even really supposed to be a twist. At least the very end (the setup for book two, I presume) caught me a little off guard. Anyway, it was a really fun ride and I’m glad to hear that the audio version is equally entertaining.

3 02 2012
DevourerofBooks (@DevourerofBooks)

I hate seeing the “big twist” too early, I can no longer read Agatha Christie for a long, long time, because I have been seeing the endings come from a mile away lately.

2 07 2012
Kathy

Loved this book too! It hadn’t even occurred to me that it could have been better with a more “exotic” narration until I read your review and the comments. I thought RS was the perfect youthful voice for the teenaged-girl-seeking-identity storyline. If I could nit-pik about one little thing—–the author started to be annoying with her constant and repetitive descriptions of LIPS. “Her lips curled,” “she pursed her lips,” on and on….. I do like descriptive body language, but I felt like Meyer was bordering on OCD with the LIPS!

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