This is not a review of Cinders, nor a response to it, nor a commentary upon it. I am only a page and a half in. However, that first page and a half sparked one of my favorite memes for reflection and ranting and I thought I would share that with you all.
(Incidentally, in case you have been following my chatter the past few days, I decided to start with Cinders instead of The Dog of the North because it's shorter, comes first in alphabetical order by both title and author, and because as much as I have place-name envy for Tim's homeland, I'd live near the rockies in a heartbeat. But I digress.)
As far as I know, this rant has next to nothing to do with any ideas that are expressed in Cinders.
So here's the thing. I hate Cinderella. I hate Beauty and the Beast. I hate most popularized fairy tales that touch upon the notion of someone loving someone who seems unloved and unlovable. Why? Because they don't show what they claim to teach! Typically, the lovely person falls in love with the unlovely person while under the impression that the unlovely person actually is lovely. Often times, the unlovely person is rewarded by becoming permanently lovely.
This is touching? This is meaningful? This is deep?
The stories may be fun and entertaining at some level, but they really do the exact thing they claim to be teaching people not to do. Cinderella is not about a young woman overcoming her family and position to win the heart of the prince by her own strength and through her own virtues. It is about a young woman who is made to look like someone she is not, and who the prince cannot help but fall in love with because she's fake and created specifically to win his heart over.
She's an airbrushed fake.
The prince, essentially responds to her like some twentieth century schmoe responding physically to a porn star. It's got nothing to do with her. It's got to do with the fact that she's faked up specifically to be attractive to schmoes like him.
And, if I may, I'd like to suggest one further heresy. In the popular Cinderella, her step-mother and her step-sisters are cold and cruel and obsessed with status. Cinderella is humble and sweet and charming.
Ah, but on her own Cinderella has no gown or coach or slippers -- and certainly no right to dance with the prince at the ball.
Magic gives her those things.
She doesn't have to work for them at all. She's just given them.
So of course she's going to shine amongst all the other "proper" girls. She's not one. She just got the same place they did. You know what happens to the people who earn those things by position or effort? They become cold and cruel and obsessed with status.
One theme that runs through my own writing, pretty strongly at times, is redemption. For me, it's always been essential that that redemption not be for obvious reasons. If I want to show the importance of loving someone who is unlovable, that person better darn well be unlovable when someone loves them. If the person transforms first than they are no longer unlovable. And what's remarkable or interesting about people loving people who are lovable?
p.s. The three-dashes thing ("All---") is a homage to a punctuation technique I crafted in my teen years tour as a space opera writer. It's how people signed on to the communications system. Tap your your fingers together to bring the implants in contact, open the circuit through your body, say the name of the person you want to talk to, and supply three dashes. ---Out.