I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
TITLE: Cinderella Is Dead
AUTHOR: Kalynn Bayron
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
PUBLICATION DATE: July 7, 2020
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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.
Cinderella is Dead is a refreshing reimagining of Cinderella. It’s honestly one of the more creative retellings I’ve read. I really did not expect the story to go where it. Just the way elements of the age-old fairytale were reframed to fit into the world of this book blew my mind. It’s been a few days since I’ve finished reading it, and I’m still amazed at how Cinderella was retold.
Sophia, our lovely main character, is not quite another edition of one of my favorite princesses, but yet still embodies (what I believe are) Cinderella’s best qualities.
Important Read in Today’s World
Sophia lives in a world where all girls must attend a ball to be chosen by a man to become his wife. Girls who leave the ball without being selected risk their reputation, and that of their families, and may face exile or death. As such, Cinderella is Dead addresses many modern-day issues like sexism, freedom of choice, LGBTQ+ rights, oppression, and a little about race (subtly?). These struggles were all nicely woven into the story, and while maybe slightly overdone, I cannot imagine this book without these points. Some of the passages and quotes hit particularly hard at this time, especially given the United States’ current “leadership”.
Lack of development pretty much accounts for everything in this section, especially the characters, world-building, and romance. If any of the three were more fleshed out, Cinderella is Dead could have been at least a 4-star read for me instead of a 3.5-star one.
First up, let’s talk about the characters. The characters were fun to read, and I liked how they were all so different from one another. It was especially fun to see them bicker with one another. That said, most of them were pretty undeveloped. Like, I know more about what Sophia stands for than who she is.
Quick World Building
It didn’t take me long to understand the world Sophia lives in or the standards she has to conform to in this society. Which would typically be a good thing except most of the world was built through “telling” and not “showing”. It sometimes felt like I was reading a history textbook, but Sophia is not supposed to be a history teacher. On top of that, all the world-building in the first few chapters caused the beginning of Cinderella is Dead to be slow and awkward, which is not exactly the best way to start a book.
Sophia’s Love Life
Sophia’s love plays a significant role in getting the plot rolling in Cinderella is Dead – she’s willing to risk it all for the chance at a happily ever after with her girlfriend. However, their romance doesn’t read like some great love, and their friendship feels tenuous.
Sophia’s love life later in the book is sweeter, but I wish I could have seen more of their romance unfold in the story.
Cinderella is Dead is an important read and a unique reimagining of Cinderella. But it could have used some more development in some areas.