Original review can be found on my livejournal account here
.Why I Read It:
At the beginning of the year I had made the resolution that I would plow my way through my 100+ book-pile of a TBR before buying/reading anything new. Not only have I bought more than 20 books since I made that resolution, but I've been having a serious hankering for reading some of the new stuff coming out in 2012. So then I changed my resolutions a bit and decided to kind of alternate: I'll read a new release from 2012 that I've been wanting to read, then I'll read something from the TBR and keep going on like that from hear on out. I decided to work through my "2012 Releases That I Want to Read" list in chronological order of the book's release, and seeing as Cinder was released in early January, it was the first up!
I had already read a handful of reviews before diving into this book, so I had a pretty clear idea of what I was getting myself into: I knew I was probably going to be reading about a resourceful and likable heroine; I knew that there was a twist that was predictable from the get-go; I knew that a lot of people found the world-building to be mediocre and not as developed as it could have been. After reading it for myself, I would have to say that I agree on all these accounts.
As most reviewers have already said, Cinder is a very likable character. She doesn't enjoy her crappy lot in life, but she doesn't dwell on it ad nauseum either. She makes some silly decisions and assessments (like thinking Prince Kai won't like her because she's a cyborg -- even though she barely knew him, he had been nothing but compassionate up until that point) but they're never deal-breakers. The supporting characters, while not completely three-dimensional, are also largely likable or at least avoid being cardboard cutouts (save for the villain -- more on that in a bit). Prince Kai could have easily been the perfect Prince Charming, but he does show his age a bit; he's very bitter about having to marry to Princess of Lunar and because of this makes some mistakes. Even characters who aren't particularly likable are a little bit fleshed, such as Adri. Yeah, she's pretty mean, but it's very obvious she's still reeling from the death of her husband and uses Cinder as an outlet for her rage.
There are SOME characters who get little to not fleshing out though. As mentioned above, the villain of the novel is from the quintessential Evil For The Sake Of Being Evil cookie-cutter mold. Similarly, Cinder's sister Pearl is bitchy just for the sake of being bitchy, but she's such a marginal character that that wasn't nearly as obvious or annoying.
As for plotting, I think the novel had a pretty clipping pace. I read the books in four chunks (for each part) and they would fly by fairly quickly, which felt surprising for a book that was almost 400 pages. The "twist" in the novel could be seen from a mile away and I'm pretty sure every person who read this book guessed it as soon as it was hinted at. I had so much fun with a lot of the other elements of the novel that the very obvious twist didn't bother me as much as it might normally have; it also helped that I had a heads up I think as it tweaked my expectations a notch. I wasn't overly impressed with the cliffhanger ending though. There was some resolution, but I'm just not a fan of cliffhangers in general, so.
The last point I want to bring up is the setting. This seems to be an area of mild debate, with some people finding the world of New Beijing fleshed out and creative, with others finding it a mediocre fair and underdeveloped. I feel like I fall somewhere in the middle: New Beijing did have some obvious Asian flair, with some of the names, little details here and there in regards to how people sit, the decor, eating with chopsticks, etc. etc. However, those little details were the only things that felt Asian about New Beijing and I always had a feeling like there could have been MORE.
I would remiss if I didn't at least mention the romance between Kai and Cinder. Overall I thought it was really cute. I liked that Cinder didn't try to quell her feelings when she was taken with Kai's charm, nor did she let her previous minor prejudices affect her opinion of him. I was also surprised at how much the romance actually takes a backseat to everything else going on. So if you were worried about the romance dominating the story, worry no more.Final Verdict:
This really was an entertaining, brain-candy kind of read. It has two likable main leads and quite frankly, they really made the novel work for me. The villain was unfortunately two-dimensional, there was also an incredibly predictable "twist" (I hesitate to even call it that, it was so predictable) and the setting was not as much as it could be, but I had so much fun reading this regardless of its flaws. I'm not sure how Meyer is going to continue the series after the cliff-hanger ending, considering that the next novel is going to be following another fairytale heroine, but I guess we'll see.