Cinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron was one of my most highly anticipated new releases of the year. Because fairy tale retelling AND queer girls teaming up to overthrow the patriarchy! Need I say more?
Book: Cinderella Is Dead
Author: Kalynn Bayron
Published July 7th 2020 by Bloomsbury YA
TW: homophobia, sexism, misogyny, kidnapping, murder, physical assault, sexual assault, ableist language, violence, decapitation, death of a friend, torture, forced marriage, animal death
It’s 200 years after Cinderella found her prince. But in Lille, it is not happily ever after. Strict rules are restricting the women of Lille.
Sophia is not having it. She would much rather marry Erin than getting dressed up to parade around for potential suitors. She wants to be her own hero. At the ball, she makes a desperate decision to flee. She finds herself at Cinderella’s final resting place where she begins to realize, there may be more to the 𝘊𝘪𝘯𝘥𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘭𝘭𝘢 fairy tale than meets the eye.
Sophia, the main character, is very stubborn. She doesn’t like the way things are in Lille. Honestly, that is all I know about her. I feel like all of the descriptions about her barely scratched surface deep.
Sophia seems stubborn to the point of recklessness. Seriously, she is shouting all this rebellious stuff out in the middle of the freaking street. Be more chill. Channel your inner Katniss, not your inner Gale.
Also, Sophia talks about how she is so in love with Erin, but then she meets Constance and is swooning. Soooo, we are just going to forget about the entire relationship with Erin and date Constance? Okaaay then…
Cinderella is Dead checks all the boxes to be a very compelling dystopian and retelling. It is definitely one of the best dystopians I’ve read in a while (not that I read that many, but still). Exploring the society built on the structure of sexism and toxic masculinity was so interesting to explore, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching Sophia and Constance fight against it.
As for the retelling component, I love how Cinderella is Dead takes the original Cinderella tale and basically makes it law. It was terrible to see how the story we all know and love got twisted to fit the narrative of the future teller. The parallels to the way history is currently taught is similarly alarming. Using Cinderella as building blocks to create this society allowed for lot’s of twist and an unforgettable adventure.
The darker angle of the classic 𝘊𝘪𝘯𝘥𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘭𝘭𝘢 story is intriguing, but I wish it could have been more fleshed out. Everything seemed to be a bit rushed through. I think this was mainly a pacing issue. This story could have very easily been told as a duology and resolved some of the lingering questions.
There were a few parts of the book that were not very believable. Things only went wrong for the protagonist if it was convenient. Does that make sense? The only times Sophia’s plan didn’t work is when they needed to advance the plot.
a) When the king was dead, how did everyone just accept the new way of life? We only saw 3 decent guys in the entire book, so surely other men are mad and rebelling?
b) Are you telling me Sophia went to the winter ball under a stolen ticket and NO ONE notices? No one notices the most wanted person? No disguise or anything?!
c) Also, Sophia was able to stroll back into town and no once recognizes her? The people in this book are as observant as rocks.
Did anyone else wonder this, or just me? I am a chronic over thinker, so it could very possible be me.
Overall, it was an entertaining read. If you enjoy dystopia, fast paced books, and strong female characters, then Cinderella is Dead might be for you!
Have you read Cinderella Is Dead? What did you think of it? Do you read many retellings? Which are your favorite?