Cinder - Marissa Meyer

Rating: ★

Publication Date: January 3, 2012
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Genre: YA
Pages: 390 pages

The internet has failed me. For YEARS I have seen the Lunar Chronicles books pass and while everyone seemed to love them, no one really told me why. And that's why I didn't read them until now. AND HOW I LOVED CINDER. Next time, please let me know when I'm blatantly ignoring a book series that I could be falling in love with - it's what the comment section of this blog is all about after all!

Cinder is the story of the future world where a cyborg mechanic named Cinder meets the prince of her country in a most crucial historical time. Cinder is, like her fairytale namesake, stuck with a stepmother that hates her and one evil stepsister, but surprisingly also one nice one. When the prince asks her to fix something for him, she's suddenly thrown into a major medical problem which is basically the future version of the plague. Mechanics aside, the real problem is is whether a cyborg can help a human being, and a prince at that, save the world.

Now the first 50 pages of CInder had me in belief that fantasy isn't for me and that I wouldn't enjoy reading this book after all. We're introduced to Cinder and for me, the whole "she's not like other girls" vibe was just laid on too thickly. We get it. YA narrators are never like other girls and are special little snowflakes. But then again, they are not because they do things other girls will do and most importantly, what's wrong being like other girls? That pet peeve put aside, I struggled through these pages and after them, I was completely hooked. 

I'm still on the fence of Cinder as a character. She shows some amazing moments, but sometimes she just read too generic for me. I like the play on the original Cinderella character; not only is Cinder poor, she's also a cyborg while the prince is a human which is something just not done in that world. It made the divide between the two characters bigger and more believable when Cinder insists on constantly lying to the prince. However, at times I felt that Cinder was just kickass just to be kickasss. It was fake and out of character, but since there are more books in this series, I'm very excited to read them so I'll get a better grasp on her as a character.

A character that I did fall in love with is Lunar princess Levana who is just AMAZING. She's mean, cunning, intelligent and beautiful - exactly everything I want my villain to be. She doesn't hesitate to do whatever she needs to do to get what she wants and she manipulates absolutely everyone in the process. I loved how brutal she is and I can't wait to read more about her story in the other books.

Overall, this book was far from perfect. Cinder is an average character and the big plot twist at the end is something most readers will see coming before the halfway mark. However, I LOVED this book. I can see all its flaws and I can discuss them and yet I still absolutely adored it. It was just so much fun to read and so easy to escape in the world that Marissa Meyer created. This book really transported me from my own life to Cinder's and I think that's an amazing achievement for any book - so just for that reason, I can't give this less than 5 stars.

The Winner's Curse - Marie Rutkoski


I joined a new book club recently to try and read YA books that I normally wouldn't pick up. I really want to expand my literary horizons this year and since I'm writing a YA novel, I want to read as much, and a lot of diverse YA, as possible. This is how I ended up reading The Winners Curse by Marie Rutkoski - I always loved the dress on the cover of the book but was never really motivated to buy it. Until now.



Winning what you want may cost you everything you love 

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. 

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. 

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined. 


Summary sounds kind of familiar... 

So that summary from Goodreads sounds like it's a one in a million young adult book. Boy and girl. Some weird world. Unfair relationship. Blossoming love. Difficult choices. Blablabla - I've read a handful of books like that before and I only started reading YA fantasy a few months ago.

However, what it says about the book is that it's impossible to create a blurb that does it justice. I tried to make a better summary, but I just couldn't think of anything that can really explain the book.

At the core, it is just that summary with all the elements you have seen time and time before. But when you read it, it's so much more. And that's mostly because Kestrel is not like other YA narrator.

Kestrel is not kick-ass

Kestrel is not strong. Kestrel does not have any superpower. Kestrel is basically just a normal girl who is stuck in a difficult position. Some might argue that Kestrel is extremely intelligent, but I don't think that's even the case. She's just smart enough to know how to survive, yet she doesn't do anything really extraordinary. Kestrel is brave and stands up for what is right and that doesn't always end well for her, which is so refreshing compared to the female YA characters that can defeat everyone and everything - it doesn't always work like that and it doesn't work like that for Kestrel.


Besides the fact that Kestrel is surprisingly normal for a fantasy narrator, the romance is also so much more realistic than the average YA book romance. Usually, it all goes VERY fast and it's intense - it either ends perfectly or it ends horribly. No in between.

However, in the Winner's Curse, there is a middle ground. Both Kestrel and Arin realise the difficulties that come from a relationship where one person is in power and one isn't at all (as slave, Arin really has nothing to say) and neither of them try to gloss over it. It's a real issue and the book takes the time to really explore what that issue means for both of the characters.


So basically, this book takes all the cliché YA fantasy elements and just gives them a little twists. You'll still recognise all the things you love to read in another YA books, but the story surprises you with all the twists and turns it takes. This book won't ever be one of my all time favourites, probably because fantasy just isn't my favourite genre, but it was a very enjoyable and surprising read so four out of five stars.