Cinder by Marissa Meyer

One of the four novels I finished over Spring Break–and the only one that counted for anything other than pure pleasure reading–was my pick for the “Science Fiction and Fantasy” category of the 2012 Mixing It Up Challenge that I pledged to complete at the beginning of the year. The following was my reaction to the mere thought of that category: Ugh. However, I knew it would be a fairly easy genre to check off my list, albeit not the most enjoyable.

While scouring a few of my favorite book blogs, including Forever Young Adult, I read many positive reviews for a new Cinderella story, Cinder by Marissa Meyer. This Cinderella story, however, has something that Ella Enchanted does not: cyborgs. And androids. And Lunar queens. However, the cover intrigued me–not because I’m a shoe girl (I know, I know… I’m turning over a “woman” card)–but because the femininity of the cover led me to believe this book was written more for my demographic than Lord of the Rings.

 

So, after completing my latest Bailey Weggins pleasure read, I cracker open Cinder one evening, in Florida, before bed. I read the first half of page. And closed the book. “Don’t like it?” B asked. “I just can’t do it,” I replied. “I’m less than one page in, and am already rolling my eyes at the cyborg reference.” I put it down immediately, and pulled out a different novel I’d brought along–a failsafe Meg Cabot young adult novel.

But, laying there under the covers–well, the sheet, since we were staying with senior citizens in Florida who turn on the A/C but leave it at 85–my guilt overcame me. Reluctantly, I got out of bed again, returned the Cabot novel to my carry-on, and pulled out Cinder once again. You have to read a sci-fi, Katie, I told myself. You might as well just get it over with.

Well, suffice it to say, I’m glad that I decided to stick with this read, because within 20 pages, I was hooked. The next morning, relaxing on the beach, I looked at B and said, “You know a science fiction author is good when you read a scene involving cyborgs, androids, and Lunars, and you don’t even stop to think about how unrealistic it is. I just bought the whole thing, like, yeah, that totally makes sense.”

The plot of the story is basically this: Cinder is a teenage girl living in a city known as New Beijing. This novel is set way, way, in the future–after WWIV, when apparently all the countries on Earth are going to bond together and live in peace and harmony, and our new enemy will be our Lunar neighbors living on the moon. So, anyway, Cinder is a cyborg, meaning she’s a human with some robotic replacements, including one of her feet. (Ooo! Ooo! Cinderella reference!) She lives with her legal guardian (evil stepmother) and her two sisters (Peony and Pearl).

A horrible plague is demolishing the population of New Beijing, and when it strikes Peony down, the evil stepmother sends Cinder off to be a scientific guinea pig to find a cure for this disease. No guinea pigs have ever survived the tests, until Cinder, which of course makes her a very valuable asset to science and society. Why she is immune, and how can this information be used to save the millions who are dying?

Cinder becomes entwined with Prince Kai, who is soon to become emperor, when his childhood android needs repair. (Oh, I forgot to mention that Cinder is a reputable mechanic.) In her work on the android, Cinder figures out that Queen Levana, the Lunar queen, has been plotting and spying some pretty evil stuff. Prince Kai is a smidgeon away from having to marry Queen Levana, as it seems to be the only way to dispel her plot to war with Earth.

Then there’s a ball, etc., etc. (It’s a Cinderella story, remember?)

I (gladly) admit that I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I was bummed to find out that the next installment in this four-book series (known as the Lunar Chronicles) is not set to be released until 2013. And, yes, I’m going to be the sci-fi dork at the bookstore that day, ready for round two. So, Ellie at Musings of a Bookshop Girl, thank you for inspiring me to push my literary boundaries this year. Were it not for the momentum of the Mixing It Up Challenge, I would never have picked up Cinder, and found this new series that I can’t wait to enjoy!

Oh, and I totally predict that this series is bound to take off and be the next Hunger Games. I even envision a series of movie releases in the future.

Mixing It Up Challenge 2012

In 2012 I will be participating in the Mixing It Up Challenge. You, too, could participate in this challenge and expand your reading repertoire. Just go here for more information and to sign up.

In an effort to round out my reading this year, I’m vowing to read one book from at least 13 of the 16 listed categories. Although I’m tempted to go for the All the Trimmings and a Cherry on Top participation level, I’m keeping it real and admitting that between my two book clubs, I may be over-committing. So, I’ll be a Two-Tier Cake-r this year. Confused yet? Read this blog for more information on the challenge.

Without further ado, the categories, and my brainstorming:

CLASSICS

Considering some Willa Cather, but considering going back to some of those should-have-read-in-high-school novels, such as Scarlet Letter or Three Musketeers.

BIOGRAPHY

I absolutely love reading biographies, but to be honest, don’t have any on my “to-read” list. However, I know that Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff has been getting a lot of attention recently, so I may have to check it out.

COOKERY, FOOD AND WINE

The author of this challenge suggested a book on wine for this category. If I can pair this with some real-life research, I’m down!

HISTORY

On tap for my July book club meeting is Unbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand, a WWII story named by TIME magazine as “the best nonfiction book of the year”. We also have Franklin and Eleanor by Hazel Rowley and Harry Truman’s Excellent Adventure by Matthew Algeo coming up in February and April.

MODERN FICTION

And this is the category where I’ll fit in my recent addiction: Meg Cabot’s Queen of Babble series.

GRAPHIC NOVELS AND MANGA

This genre will (would) be entirely new for me, and quite a stretch out of my comfort zone. May be one of the 1-3 genres I skip. We’ll see…

CRIME AND MYSTERY

Paying homage to my mother, I will probably zip through an Agatha Christie or two in 2012, but I also plan to enjoy a few more of the Stephanie Plum series. In addition, Hardball, by Sara Paretsky, is on my book club’s list for March.

HORROR

I can honestly say I’ve never read a horror novel, but on my to-read list for quite some time has been Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood.

ROMANCE

The latest Nicholas Sparks? Yes, please.

SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY

Ugh. This is my general reaction to science fiction and fantasy. If I re-read the Harry Potter series, does that count? (Maybe I’ll sign up for the Harry Potter Reading Challenge.)

TRAVEL

B gifted me with travel guides on London and Paris in preparation for our 2013 European vacation, so you can bet I’ll be scouring these in 2012.

POETRY AND DRAMA

I always enjoy poetry more than I think I will. Since I honestly never think to sit down and read it, I will appreciate taking the time to do so this year. I’m thinking some springtime reading…

JOURNALISM AND HUMOUR

This genre will take some research for me. It’s another one that I’m not too familiar with. Maybe I’ll check out one of those Chelsea Handler books that always look like they’ll annoy me… or maybe I’ll delve deeper and read a journalist’s collected works. Hmm….

SCIENCE AND NATURAL HISTORY

After reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks this year, I’m honestly not sure I can put myself through another work in this genre so soon…

CHILDREN’S AND YOUNG ADULT
In my profession, this one should not be a problem!
I’ll keep you updated on my favorites of 2012.

SOCIAL SCIENCES AND PHILOSOPHY
I gave B a copy of Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar by Thomas Cathcart this Christmas. The subtitle, Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes, sounds like it’s right up my alley.

Not sure this challenge is for you, but interested in learning about some others? Check out this blog, one of my favorite literature-based reads, for some more ideas.

Completed Reads

CLASSICS

The Great Gatsby by F. Scot Fitzgerald

BIOGRAPHY

Half-Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls

COOKERY, FOOD AND WINE

Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell

HISTORY

Harry Truman’s Excellent Adventure: The True Story of a Great American Road Trip by Matthew Algeo

MODERN FICTION

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

GRAPHIC NOVELS AND MANGA

Homecoming by Meg Cabot

CRIME AND MYSTERY

The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson

HORROR

ROMANCE

The Villa by Nora Roberts

SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

TRAVEL

POETRY AND DRAMA

JOURNALISM AND HUMOUR

Drop Dead Healthy by A. J. Jacobs

SCIENCE AND NATURAL HISTORY

CHILDREN’S AND YOUNG ADULT
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

SOCIAL SCIENCES AND PHILOSOPHY

Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived by Rob Bell