Cinder is a cyborg living under the thumb of her wicked adoptive mother. In the world she lives in, she's considered barely human, and she dreams of a day when she can be free. When her sister falls ill with the mysterious plague that has befallen New Beijing, Cinder discovers she might be the cure. Mix in a ball and a prince, and her life gets pretty complicated.
This book is beloved, so I am not going to be too popular on this one. Where do I even start? There was so much wrong with this story that I can't even find a place to begin. Yet let's try.
Problem the first: the world building in this book is atrocious. That really is its worst problem, I feel. Such random information is plopped into the story without proper expansion on the very important whys, making this possibly the thinnest, softest science fiction novel ever written. Disregard the idea that maybe you need some science in your science fiction story. How about just some proper history for this future world? A third and fourth world war are both mentioned, but not how they started or who was fighting who or how it's possible that our planet could even remotely survive two more world wars. It's like she's never heard of nuclear weapons.
There's a colony on the moon (already there are so many problems with that) where everyone apparently has super powers (and it gets worse), and there is no explanation as to how that happened. Are we to assume they fiddled with their own bodies in a lab until they became crazy psychics? HOW? How even are these powers meant to work? She throws out things that sound more like magic than science but insists they are science and yet never elaborates. No, I didn't find that mystical and charming. I found it downright irritating.
Why does New Beijing have no cultural identity at all? Is that a byproduct of the wars? Why are cyborgs hated? It seems to me that the cyborg technology in place is meant to be a futuristic version of replacing lost limbs. Would people genuinely rather see the disabled in wheelchairs than with cyborg parts? Why? It's never said cyborgs are dangerous, so why are they discriminated against? When you can't even properly illustrate a social construct in your world, you're not even trying.
I walked away with so many questions that I knew would never be answered. There was not going to be a sequel that bound all this together and made me realize the depth of the story, and I could tell. This book exists on "rule of cool", the idea that if it's cool enough, it doesn't need any depth. I felt that every time I was demanding answers of this book that it was telling me to shut up and enjoy the ride, but if it's not a very good ride in the first place, I can't do that.
There needed to be something here to latch onto, and there wasn't. No well-developed characters I cared about. A thin story. Generic, unimpressive writing. It wasn't even fast paced. We also have the boring, blushy romance with a male lead that I felt absolutely nothing for, who even managed to make himself seem like a total tool by the end of the story. And a cliffhanger that was frustratingly unnecessary, seeing as how the first book didn't hook me enough to want to keep reading.
With the amount of vitriol I'm spitting, why not one star? I can't believe that I might actually be giving a book a pity star, but I think I am. It's so bad, it deserves my sympathy.