Book Reviews

Book Review: Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

It’s 200 years after Cinderella found her prince, but the fairy tale is over. Teen girls are now required to appear at the Annual Ball, where the men of the kingdom select wives based on a girl’s display of finery. If a suitable match is not found, the girls not chosen are never heard from again.
Sixteen-year-old Sophia would much rather marry Erin, her childhood best friend, than parade in front of suitors. At the ball, Sophia makes the desperate decision to flee, and finds herself hiding in Cinderella’s mausoleum. There, she meets Constance, the last known descendant of Cinderella and her step sisters. Together they vow to bring down the king once and for all–and in the process, they learn that there’s more to Cinderella’s story than they ever knew . . .
This fresh take on a classic story will make readers question the tales they’ve been told, and root for girls to break down the constructs of the world around them.

Title: Cinderella Is Dead
Author: Kalynn Bayron
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Format: Digital ARC
Publication Date: July 7th, 2020
Rating:  3.2//5

I really wanted to fall in love with this story. It’s has everything I like:

– retelling

– lgbtq+ MC

– diverse and realistic cast

But for me, characters make or break the story telling. The story itself is wonderful and creative. 200 years after Cinderella, her story is still being used to stifle and control women, to allow evil men to sit on the throne, for men to rule over and over again.

It’s the women are suppressed story, living in a world where men make all the decisions, where they can do whatever they want behind closed doors and no one will bat in eye.

I love these kind of stories, I love reading as women come out of their cages and realize that they matter.

But the characters, OH MAN.

I’ll talk about Sophia in a minute – let’s discuss the rest of them.

Erin – If the book ended with Erin being brutally murdered I would not have cared at all. Her entire personality comes down to the fact that she’s pretty, Sophia is in love with her, and she has chosen to be the docile, good little wife and stay in her place. Other than that I have no idea who she is or what she wants.

Luke – he likes boys, and wanted to help Sophia. I’m pretty sure that’s his entire personality and I honestly forgot he existed.

Constance – she’s a descendant of one of Cinderella’s step-sisters. That fact is about 90% of her personality. Her family has spent generations training and learning to fight the king? Yet somehow, with all her pretty dagger work her family has done nothing but run for 200 years and hold on to old letters. She’s also super pretty with red hair.

All of these characters were so one dimensional. They’re personalities boiled down to one aspect of who they are, and all of their actions were driven by just that one small thing. It made it so hard to care about any of them.

Then we have Sophia. First of all, her last name is Grimmins which I thought was super clever. Sophia has more personality than everyone else, but she was a little too much of the “not like other girls” type. She questions the king and the traditions, she likes girls, she likes wearing pants, and has a sharp tongue. Sophia is the outsider, the wolf in a city of sheep. And although at times her character was extremely cliched, she did have some depth to her, she was constantly questioning herself, discovering who she is on her own, not by the measure of Erin, or her parents, or what the King wanted. I enjoyed her journey into knowing what she wants for herself.

Lastly, there’s Amina, who is a very spoiler-y character so I don’t want to get to into who she was. But I loved her. Amina was a very well thought out character, I was constantly questioning her motives and loyalty, and I loved how enough details were given about her to make you constantly question.

I felt disconnected from a lot of these characters, and even more say when it came down to the “telling” instead of “showing” of the plot. I think the focus on toxic masculinity and giving women a voice was well thought out, but didn’t always translate too well. There was a lot of explanations, instead of actually getting to experience the world and the story for myself.

However, I do think the various twists, and the overall idea behind the story was brilliant. I love the idea of a society built around the Cinderlla fairytale, and how it showed the serious dangers of silencing and alienating people based on their gender.

Overall, I liked this story – it wasn’t one of my new favorites, but it was definitely a worthwhile read. It was a good story about feminism, strength, friendship, and not taking any shit from other people.

Cinderella Is Dead is out now!

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