Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1 by Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Macmillan/Feiwel and Friends (Jan 3rd, 2011)
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.
Cinderella is, by far, one of my all-time favorite fairy tales. Add sci-fi/futuristic elements, and I’m totally there. Cinder is a teenaged cyborg, orphaned at 11, then taken in by her stepmother and 2 stepsisters after the man that adopted her was killed. Adri, her stepmother, is cruel and bitter, and the oldest sister, Pearl, isn’t much better. However, Cinder has a friend in Peony, the youngest sibling, and loves her like she would a real sister. Four years later, we find Cinder in New Beijing, carving out a meager existence as the town’s best android mechanic, and turning all of her earnings over to Adri. One day, at her booth in the town market, Prince Kai pays her a visit. His favorite android is on the fritz, and he heard Cinder was the best. For years Cinder has done her very best to hide her “dirty” secret (that she’s a cyborg), and she has no intention of letting handsome Prince Kai find out otherwise. However, bringing that android to Cinder is the start of something big, and will reveal secrets about Cinder’s past, and alter her future, forever.
Cinder retains just enough of the original story to make it a joy to pick out certain parallels, but the author has set her story in the rich environment of New Beijing, years after a devastating 4th World War. There is a terrible plague on the loose, and Cinder will experience the fallout of this plague first hand and become an unwitting pawn in the search for a cure. Her charming android companion, Iko, is endearing and sweet, and steals nearly every scene she’s in, also adding levity when needed. When the hated and feared Lunar Queen pays a visit to Earth, hoping to forge an alliance with New Beijing through marriage, all hell breaks loose, and she brings with her a terrible power and secrets that only Cinder can unlock. Prince Kai is charming, and I fell in love with Cinder from page one. You’ll root for them to fall in love, but the author doesn’t hand you that on a silver platter, not by a longshot, and the ending is wide open for another installment in this series. Nothing is wrapped in a pretty bow in this one. The pacing is rapid and tense, and builds to an exciting last page that will leave you anxious for the next installment. It’s going to be a hard wait for me! I’d recommend Cinder to any fan of sci-fi and fairy tales, and it’s a story that can be enjoyed by teens and adults alike! This one’s a keeper.