Cinder – Marissa Meyer
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.
Review: I’m not usually a fan of fairytale retellings, but Cinder is a little unusual. The main character is a cyborg who lives in plague-infested future Beijing. She falls in love with Prince Kai, but she’s afraid to reveal her true identity to him.
Cinder takes a well-known fairytale (Cinderella) and transforms it into a quick-paced sci-fi story. It’s the most creative and entertaining fairytale retelling that I’ve come across so far. I flew through it. It’s definitely a fast, fun read.
The characters are the best part of the story. Cinder is a strong woman who can take care of herself. I was also very happy to discover that the prince actually has a personality. In many fairytales (and their retellings), the prince is just a plot device to move the story forward. That’s not the case with Cinder. Prince Kai is likeable, funny, and tries hard to do the right thing for his kingdom.
Even though I found Cinder entertaining, I still have a lot of problems with it. My biggest issue is its predictability. Nothing in this book surprised me, but I think I was supposed to be surprised. I wasn’t. I was just frustrated that it took the characters so long to figure out something that I saw instantly.
The story has some inconsistencies. For example, the plague is highly contagious and can live on clothing, but nothing happens when Cinder goes straight from the quarantine facility to the palace. She doesn’t seem concerned that she could infect someone.
I know that this book is part of a series, and the world will become more developed as the series progresses, but there are a ton of missed opportunities for world-building in Cinder. The reader does not learn much about the history or culture of New Beijing. The bias against cyborgs is never fully explained. Even the landscape and layout of the city is unclear in my mind.
I did have fun reading this book. It’s imaginative, but I’m undecided if I’m going to continue with the series.