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Translate My Heart

I am a twenty-something year old with a fondness for books, snail mail and summer dresses. I work in a bookshop and live in the pages of books.

Cinder: Book One in the Lunar Chronicles

Cinder - Marissa Meyer Initially, Cinder drew me with its re-imagined Cinderella story. Fairy tales hold a dear place in my heart because those stories is what transformed me into a reader. As a child, I would ensconce myself in the fairy tale section of the library and read for hours. Additionally, all the buzz and positive feedback on Cinder help cement the idea that it would be a good book to start my 2012 reading year.Cinder retains some of the classic fairy tale elements: a girl under the thumb of her domineering stepmother, a prince charming, two stepsisters, and a missing shoe. However, it is in the details and world building that Meyer remakes Cinderella into a fresh tale. In this fairytale, Cinder is a cyborg. As not fully human Cinder faces discrimination from not only her family, but from society at large. People avoid her simply for who she is and legally her freedom is tied to her stepmother. I love this exploration of the divide between humans and cyborgs, which touches on issues of class systems, slavery and humanity. Meyer touches on this few and far between, but I hope that it will be addressed more in the later books. As the focal point of the story, Cinder's characterization shines through. A smart, capable heroine - Cinder's is not one to depend on others in determining her fate. Rather, she makes her own path. Even early on, she relies on her skills as a mechanic to save enough money to break free of her stepmother's hold. While she lacks ability to show emotion, Cinder is capable of feeling strongly whether it is love or sorrow. However, I have trouble with Prince Kai's characterization. Besides his conflict over his duty to his heart or his people and the fact that he is handsome, not much is known about him. He still is a mystery and the relationship between him and Cinder therefore does not feel organic to me. In terms of the world building, New Beijing brings to mind a futuristic city grounded in Chinese lore and culture. Besides the whole cyborg thing, I was excited about this world of New Beijing. As a Chinese-American, I am always excited when I read books featuring elements from my cultural heritage since there are not a lot of YA books that have that. I thought 'finally, a futuristic story with potential Chinese elements'. However, I did not feel any of that and I was a little disappointed with that. While it felt somewhat superficially Chinese at least in some of the names and manners of address, there were no strong details to tie this story to Beijing or China. Despite some reservations, I did breeze through the story and enjoyed reading it. Meyer create a fun revamp of Cinderella and I will definitely be keeping my eye out for the sequel, Scarlet.