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Book Review: Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

Hello Readers & Friends,

Today I'm reviewing the much-hyped Cinderella is Dead. Usually when I share reviews, it's because I feel very strongly - whether positive or negative. This is a bit of a grey review, but because this book is currently being so hyped and talked-about, I felt I had a duty to share my experience which, to be honest, has been a huge disappointment and let-down.

The idea behind this book is amazing. It could not be more up my street. A wonderful feminist retelling of Cinderella with a black lesbian heroine who is fighting to take down the patriarchy? What could be better! That, packaged with a stunning piece of cover art and every booktoker and their neighbour ranting about this book means I was so excited to tuck into it. Sadly, I can only give it 2.5 stars.

Whilst the idea for the book is amazing, and we were given threads of interesting world-building and thoughtful themes relating to the male gaze and patriarchal society, everything else was a let down in my opinion.

The characters were painfully 2-dimensional, with very little backstory, unclear goals and no real personal hardships to overcome. They were all very beige and there was no humour or strength in their personalities. This leaked into the romance, which was lukewarm at best and had absolutely no spice, passion, or build-up at all. They could have been best friends for all I knew. Not the LGBTQ relationship representation I had hoped for.

The plot was boring and slow-paced, with barely any action and the characters sort of coasting their way through the plot-line with minimal struggles until the very last pages. Everything seemed conveniently easy and irritatingly simple. 

For me, the final nail in the coffin was the writing style. It was all tell and no show, meaning I felt absolutely no emotional connection to anything happening and it made a dull plot even more bland. One example: we have a scene where one character is sharing a personal story. Her dialogue is broken up by the following line from the main character: "Thinking of someone hurting her made me so mad I could hardly contain it."

This, to me, is poor, amateur writing style. Being YA isn't an excuse - it's us being told what the character feels without us seeing any evidence of this. And the whole book is written like this. We're constantly told where they're going without descriptions of the journey, being told how they feel without being shown body language or without the characters actually performing any actions to illustrate their feelings, being told what the plan is instead of being shown how they make the plan... it's such a huge failure from the editor.

Honestly, I know that I'm making this sound so negative but it's only because I had such high expectations and was so looking forward to this. The hype has made it an even bigger letdown than it would have been otherwise. The concept was brilliant and there was so much scope and potential for this to be an incredible book, a la Children of Blood and Bone (Tomi Adeyumi) meets Heartless (Marissa Meyer), but it just was a big miss for me. 

Did you read it? What did you think? 


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