Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress
By: Marissa Meyer
Date Finished: 05.16.14
Cinder is a cyborg, which makes her both a second class citizen and the best mechanic in New Beijing. Her skill as a mechanic leads to an encounter and ultimately a friendship with Prince Kai. Scarlet is a feisty farm girl who will go to any lengths to rescue her kidnapped Grandmother. If that means accepting help from a street fighter who goes by the name of Wolf, well, she doesn’t have much choice, does she? “Captain” Carswell Thorne is in the right place at the wrong time or the wrong place at the right time or… something. It’s always hard to tell with him. His credentials of Criminal Mastermind are dubious, but he has a ship and can sort of pilot it which makes him an ally of necessity to Cinder. Cress has been a prisoner her entire life and kept in isolation for the past seven years, interacting only with the cruel mistress who locked her up. She’s forced into service for the moon’s evil Queen Levana, but is completely enamored of Earth and its inhabitants.
I somehow heard about Cinder as it was nearing its debut and was interested until I heard the word cyborg. At the time it was a little too weird, even for me, so I let it pass. But over the years I have continued to hear only positive things about the series and decided it was time to give it a try.
Boy, oh boy, what I’d been missing.
This is a concept that has the potential to go very much awry. But with an all-star cast and compelling story, Meyer makes it absolutely enthralling. Each book is divided into four sections with a quote from the Grimms version of these fairy tales — the basic sum-up-this-story-in-four-sentences quotes. They also serve as a teaser for what’s coming in ways both specific and abstract. What makes the books work is that Meyer is not a stickler for the following the fairy tale. The original is a framework around which a much bigger story is constructed. BUT, she does hit even the most unlikely key elements of the originals in surprising and exhilarating ways.
I enjoyed Cinder and when Goodreads asked me for a rating, I lingered over the five-star button. In the end, I chose four stars and would have placed it squarely in the paperback section of my own ratings system as well-crafted, but didn’t leave me breathless. Not long into Scarlet I realized how much ground work had been quietly laid in the first book and the more I read, the more impressed I was with the whole story. In Cress you see roots that trace all the way back to Cinder, some obvious and some forgotten. By the time I finished Cress, my mind had been blown over and over. It was beautiful.
Some things I loved in no particular order:
– Cinder actually had a good relationship with one of her stepsisters
– Some characters who seemed despicable when they were first introduced turned out to be quite well-intentioned. Some who seemed like valuable allies turned out to be sketchy. I’m still unsure about the loyalties of some.
– Angry Kai. Too bad he’s supposed to be a diplomat because he is wonderful when he gets upset.
– The threat of an incurable epidemic
– The use of technology
– The fact that each book picks up within a day after the previous one ended. Genius.
– The character arc of Carswell Thorne. All the character tracks really, but his is the most fascinating.
– The unique way Cress builds up her courage
– Scarlet’s determination
– The introduction of the fourth book’s title character, Winter. Can it be 2015 already? Please?
There’s more, so much more, but it’s a long enough post already. I am an admitted fangirl, but, unlike other books, I can speak rationally about these, partially because there are so many juicy topics to discuss. I could write a full dissertation on the use of touch or the power of perception because both play such a huge role in the books. But I’ll save those for another outlet. In the meantime, if you’re in the mood for some exquisitely crafted writing (and can afford to put your life on hold for a couple of days — you won’t want to put them down) get to a library, stat. Or learn from my mistakes and just buy them up front.
At the end of the day: Really, really, really just exactly for me