Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
Ebook available from: Barnes & Noble
Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.
Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.
Most fairy tale retellings that I've read have been just okay, though I still kind of love them. Cinder was in a different league from those. I LOVED IT. I read most of it in one sitting, and about cried when I realized the last page was just that. A cyborg Cinderella is crazy original and the world Marissa Meyer set her story in was fascinating to read about and explore. I honestly don't know how I'm possibly going to wait till next year for Scarlet!
First order of business, the world. I found it rather confusing at first, but I got my bearings rather quickly. Rather than giving us a big history lesson in one big dump, we got little bits of information at a time, accumulating quickly into a fully realized picture of the world. We quickly learn that cyborgs are sub-human, treated as property and live at the whim of whomever owned them, unless they were able to earn the money to live on their own. Meyer's vision of the world in the future isn't so much a dystopian one. We can see how the world is in a state of disorder, and the government doesn't hide this from the citizens. They're faced with the threat of attack from the gifted Lunars, beings who used to be human that have lived on the moon so long they've mutated into something else, and an incurable disease they don't know the cause of. A rather bleak picture for our fairy tale, but it sets a fascinating picture and creates a whole new set of problems for our characters past, "Will she get the prince?" and therefore a much better story.
I loved loved loved Cinder. She's had a hard life, and really wants to complain about it, but she squares her shoulders and does what has to be done. She doesn't dream big at first, but as she learns just how valuable she is--despite being a second class citizen--she really comes into her own, fighting for what she wants most of all, rather than believing she can't enact change. I loved how human she was, even though she can't remember being treated as one, and how much love is in her silicone heart. She fights for the ones she loves, even if they can't or won't love her back, even if she knows there's nothing she can do, even if she knows the truth will make them hate her. I also loved Kai. He was adorable, loving, strong, sweet, compassionate, and basically everything good. I couldn't get over his devotion to doing what was right for his people, even if it meant unhappiness for him. SWOON.
Really the only reason I didn't give this a big, glowing five stars is that I figured out the big twist way too early. By one hundred pages in, I had almost every detail figured out. I don't know if we were supposed to do this or not, but I like to take more time to figure things out, and I like to not be so sure. I love to question my conclusions over and over again until the big reveal, but once I had the idea, things kept compounding to make me surer and surer. Seriously, this is not a big detail, but it slightly detracted from my enjoyment. I'm silly.
Cinder is a practically perfectly executed fairy tale retelling. It brings the details and basic plot of the classic story of Cinderella while adding in new, unexpected ideas and creating a fresh spin. We get the best of both the classic story and a modern novel.
Risk a paper cut? If you've ever found yourself smiling at any Disney movie ever, READ IT. If you love robots and/or China, READ IT. If you like plagues, READ IT. Just find some excuse to buy it or borrow it. Make sure you get it into your grubby, grease-stained hands before I force it into them. :)