I heard about this book around the beginning of the year when Tor published a short story that worked as a prologue to the story and I was hooked. It was a subtle retelling of Cinderella and the setting was neat too. I entered more giveaways than I can remember trying to get an ARC of the book but sadly didn't win any of them and had to wait until the summer when I could snag it at my local library. So how did the actual book hold up to my (by that point) very high expectations?
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Summary: Cinder is a cyborg which makes her a second class citizen in New Beijing and she's already detested by her step-mother and one step-sister, even though since she's a gifted mechanic she's the only one who can earn money for the family. But her life becomes more confusing when she's drafted as a test subject to find a cure that's sweeping the world, has to avoid the mysterious, visiting dignitaries from the moon, and may have caught the prince's eye as well.
The Good: The setting is interesting and I really hope that the moon colony is explored more in the future books (even though I do read a good bit of sci-fi I don't find many YA books that feature colonies on other planets so at the moment it's still rather novel to me). The technology was often quite cool as well, everything managed to feel realistic enough (and, considering it turns out that there is outright magic, that's really impressive) which makes me a little sad that Cinder won't be the protagonist of the next book, having her be a mechanic was the perfect way to explain and flesh out that part of the setting and I can only hope the next book manages to do the same in an equally natural fashion.
The Bad: I don't know exactly why but I felt a little underwhelmed by the end of the book. I think part of it was that the story ended up following the Cinderella formula more strictly than I thought it would and another part was because there was a large plot twist revealed in the last few pages, a twist that I figured out by the halfway point of the book if not a third of the way in. A good twist will have enough foreshadowing in there that the reader can figure it out or at least go "ah yeah, that makes sense" which the book did in a way ("hmm, the book mentioned this thing and since everything mentioned must be related to the plot then this character must actually be this character"). However, I believe that you also need to reveal the twist quickly as well, not leave it dangling or else the readers will get bored. Finally, this is a bit of an odd one, but I'm really glad that I read that prequel before I read the book since it provided some nice background. I'm sure there were plenty of people out there who didn't read it at all and understood everything just fine but I'd still recommend people read it first (link in the top, plus it introduces you to the story so you can at least see if you want to read the rest).
So in the end, meh. I do plan on reading the next books in the series, and I'll probably enter a ton of contests for an ARC again (wait, I do that for nearly every book I can) but I won't be as excited. In the end I give this book 3.5 stars out of 5.