Sunday, December 18, 2011

Letter Essay 2: Cinder

Dear Mrs. Shanley.

I've always been fascinated in Cinderella retellings- stories about Cinderellas from different cultures, modern day Cinderella stories, or "what happens next" stories about tensions that arise even after the "happily ever after". So when I picked up "Cinder" by Marissa Meyer, I already had quite a few expectations as to what the story was going to be like.

Fortunately for my, it was even better than I had hoped! I think the unique thing about this book is that if you did not read the blurb, you would barely notice that it was a Cinderella story. Many elements of Cinderella-ness were present (wicked stepmother, stepsisters, prince, etc), but they were not purposely accentuated as if the author needed to prove that the story was a Cinderella variation. What Marissa Meyers did was take a fresh, new approach portraying a character that everyone thinks they already know. In other words- she redefined Cinderella.

Now I sound like I'm advertising the book. Maybe I should. After all, "Cinder" is amazing! The plot is unexpected and thought provoking. It has so many twists and turns. Reading "Cinder" is like eating a tasty, satisfying meal that's not too light and not too heavy- like food for the mind.

In the story, Cinder is portrayed as a fairly unimportant member of her society. She is a mechanic who works hard to support her step-family and tried to hide the fact that she is a cyborg. However, after meeting the prince, she is unwillingly drawn into a dizzying conflict between the lunar colony (Luna) and the Earthens. All throughout this, her family attempts to cope with the loss of their youngest daughter, who died to a new form plague called "letumosis". Soon, it becomes evident that the cruel and viscous queen of the Lunars holds the secret to the disease and the fate of the earth in her hands.

At the same time, Cinder's angry and grieving stepmother volunteers Cinder for "antidote testing". No one has ever survived.

Now, at this point in the story, I assumed that the hero would prevail and Cinder would find the magic cure, save the world, and marry Prince Kai. Which would have been a nice ending, but I would really hope for more. Good thing for me, there was.

Cinder presses the royal doctor, her only confidant, for more details about herself, and he lets her in on a grave secret. Her DNA test results have proven that she is, instead of a orphaned middle class cyborg, the daughter of Queen Charannay, Princess Selene, who supposedly dies 6 years ago in a fire started by her aunt. If that's not bad enough, this very aunt happens to be Queen Levana of Luna, who's powerful, cruel, and hunting Cinder down.

All this action was exciting! But I really did feel bad for Cinder. Marissa Meyer crafted her characters so well, I felt like I could have a conversation with her in my mind, and know exactly what she would say, how she would look, and what she would sound like! All of the other characters, too.

The only thing I don't understand about this book is why it's not published yet!!! The back cover says that it's an uncorrected proof, but honestly, I don't see how it needs to be "corrected".

Thank you so much for going to that book conference thingy and getting "Cinder"!


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