Cinder by Marissa Meyer

 

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Years ago, Adri’s husband, Garan, travelled to Europe and brought home a cyborg baby and a case of the plague. Garan died and left Adri with the baby, named Cinder, who grew up to be a gifted mechanic. When Cinder’s sister, Peony is diagnosed with the uncurable plague, Cinder’s guardian donates her to the plague research department, which is usually as much a death sentence as contracting the plague on its own. Upon her enlistment Cinder learns several truths about her heritage and her own past and the relationship between her planet and the Lunar colony on the moon.

 

Disclaimer: I have read this book before. It’s been a while, and I realized I needed a reread before I got into Winter, the last book in the series. It’s a quick read and it’s fun, so I don’t mind.

Seeing Cinder be so ashamed of being a cyborg is frustrating. It’s understandable because of the level of prejudice she sees due to being a cyborg, but watching her wrestle over telling Kai about it is frustrating. On a similar note, her guardian’s treatment of her is frustrating. I get that Adri blames Cinder for her husband’s death, and I understand that she’s not her child. She doesn’t need to love Cinder, but she does need to treat her like a decent human being. And the fact that laws require even adult cyborgs to have a guardian, to be owned, is degrading.

Despite Adri’s desire for Cinder to live a life of deprivation, Cinder’s cyborg circuitry and programming is remarkable. When she’s delivered to the royal labs for letumosis experimentation, they tell her so. Who decided to give an orphan state-of-the-art hardware? Why didn’t she know she was equipped with that? These are questions we’re left wondering about.

Marissa Meyer has a knack for plot development. She poses the right questions at the right times. She reveals the best twists at the time when it would provide the most impact. She creates tension in a way that doesn’t also create frustration. The characters are compelling enough (especially Iko, the eccentric teeny-bopper android we can all relate to), but Cinder‘s true merit lies in it’s plot development and the correlation between seemingly unrelated plot points.

This book isn’t an all-time favorite of mine, but it is good. It’s fast-paced and a lot of fun to read. I like picking out the parallels between Cinder in her hundreds of years in the future (after the Fourth World War) society, and Cinderella, a fairytale that’s really old, even in the present day. I’m excited to rediscover the Lunar Chronicles and share my thoughts.

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Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

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Cassie hasn’t spoken to Lia in months until she calls Lia 33 times in one night. The next day, they news breaks that Cassie died alone in a motel room. She called Lia 33 times. Lia was sent to inpatient before her and Cassie stopped speaking. She was being treated for an eating disorder after she passed out while driving. Lia restricted, Cassie puked. And together they would be the skinniest girls in school. But then Cassie died. She called Lia 33 times.

 

Laurie Halse Anderson writes as if she’s in Lia’s mind. The thoughts are scattered and rushed. Forbidden concepts are crossed out and written over; still there, but too scary to consider. Lia looks at food, and she sees numbers. She looks at herself and sees a giant, distorted, fat version of her body. She steps on the scale and it reads “NOT GOOD ENOUGH”.

Reading Lia’s thoughts and seeing her compulsions play out is… tough. It’s enabling, it’s triggering, and it’s terrifying. My biggest complaint is that we see these obsessions, we see these thought processes, we see the low self-esteem. But we don’t see how this started or how it developed. Her eating disorder is all-consuming now, but it wasn’t always. We see Lia and how she is, but never how she was.

I was unable to empathize with Lia on any level, and her story felt oh-so familiar. Broken family, with a step-sister she loves more than any other human on the planet. Her family, who usually chooses to ignore her struggles, is suddenly hit with reality when someone close to her and in a similar situation dies. Lia hits rock bottom, nearly dying before she realizes she wants to live. It’s the same anorexia story told time and time again. And Lia’s a flat, paper person who I had a terrible time trying to connect with. The compelling part of this novel should have been Lia and her bottoming out, her development and her growth. Instead the highlight was simply the writing style.