Author Marissa Meyer
The role of the book blurb is to get the reader interested enough to want to read the book. Book blurbs can be a challenge for writers since they often contain spoilers that the author would rather be revealed as the story progresses. However, the spoilers are usually what makes the book interesting in the first place. If you cannot get the reader interested in the book enough to read it, the spoilers will never be revealed so it is best to give it up in the blurb.
Genre – Young Adult Science Fiction, Dystopian
I love the cover, very eye-catching and beautiful. The red heel is striking, while the mechanical parts, shown under the skin, alludes to science fiction. Next, most potential readers will go to the book blurb.
EVEN IN THE FUTURE, THE STORY BEGINS WITH ONCE UPON A TIME…
Humans and androids crowded the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl…
Sixteen-year old Cinder, gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second class citizen with a mysterious past and is reviled by her stepmother. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future. Because there is something unusual about Cinder, something that others would kill for…
The first paragraph of the blurb does a great job of describing the precariousness of life in the future city of New Beijing: ‘raucous streets’, ‘plague ravages’ and ‘ruthless lunar people watch, waiting’. The people of Earth are weakened and on the brink of war. This future Earth sounds like a very scary place and the short sentences accentuate it.
The second paragraph of the blurb falls flat for me. It feels like one big cliche with too familiar references to the ‘Cinderella’ fairy tale. The protagonist, mistreated and unloved, falls for the handsome prince. The tag line ‘Even in the future, the story begins with Once Upon A Time…‘ contains the most overused cliche of all. The only difference is that high stakes are involved: the future of Earth. She is apparently the only one who can save the world.
The last line of the blurb hints at something mysterious, but I managed to guess what it was within the first four chapters. However, there are enough other twists and turns in this extremely well-written book to keep you interested.
The screw through Cinder’s ankle had rusted, the engraved cross marks worn to a mangled circle.
This is where the blurb plays an integral role in helping inform the reader so they are not utterly confused by the first line. If there was no blurb, the reader may get the impression that Cinder maybe undergoing a medical procedure. But the blurb has already told the reader that Cinder is a cyborg, so the line makes sense.
The importance of the blurb cannot be understated. It is as integral to the book as the first chapter. The blurb is the author’s first opportunity to interest the reader in the protagonist, the setting and the conflict.
In the first three paragraphs, Meyer creates empathy for the protagonist in her choice of words. For instance, the second line of the chapter:
Her knuckles ached from forcing the screwdriver into the joint as she struggled to loosen the screw one gritting twist after another.
Anyone can remember a time when their body ached, and they had to grit their teeth while performing a strenuous task. The next few paragraphs continue in this vein where ‘she slumped back with a relieved groan.‘ What you learn is she is struggling to remove an undersized prosthetic foot from her ankle. It makes you feel bad for her. It raises questions as to why she’d been forced to use an incorrectly sized foot. And will she be leaving this foot behind, instead of a shoe, when she leaves the ball? Fortunately, the plot does not follow the fairy tale that closely.
What is interesting about these paragraphs is that while Cinder is trying to remove her too small prosthetic foot from her ankle, the reader has no idea of the setting. Meyer describes the actions and feelings of Cinder so thoroughly, the reader doesn’t even notice they do not know where Cinder is. Although the book is written in the limited 3rd point of view, Meyer gets the reader so deep into Cinder’s head, it feels natural to only know what Cinder is feeling and thinking. I am impressed with Meyer’s ability to do this.
The next paragraph finally describes the setting, which is an outdoor market with Cinder manning her own booth where she performs mechanical and electrical repairs. The final sentence describes the other merchant’s thoughts about Cinder:
Cinder knew they really just didn’t like being next to her.
In the first four paragraphs of the book, Cinder’s most important characteristics are shown. She is capable yet ill-treated and ostracized by the majority of the population for being part cyborg.
The rest of the first chapter makes you identify with Cinder even further. Her feelings are hurt when a mother admonishes her son for playing near Cinder.
It’s not like wires are contagious.
She also tries to hide her cyborg parts from the prince during an awkward encounter at her booth. What girl hasn’t tried to hide a pimple or acted like a complete dork around a guy she likes?
Meyer has created a very enjoyable story with a well-rounded protagonist and cleverly written secondary characters.