Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
May Contain Spoilers
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.
I love reimagined fairy tales, so I was delighted to learn about Marissa Meyer’s Cinder. The first book of the Lunar Chronicles launches the series with a bang, and kept me reading late into the night. Set in the future, in the streets of New Beijing, the world building makes this dystopian Cinderella story a fun, interesting read. The citizens of New Beijing live in fear of a deadly plague that kills indiscriminately. There is no cure, and it is always fatal. To give Prince Kai even more heartache than watching helplessly as his citizens succumb to the disease, he must also watch his father, a plague victim, slip ever closer to death. He doesn’t feel that he is ready to assume the throne, and he frets about the Lunar Queen and her ambitions to rule Earth as well.
Cinder is a mechanic. She’s also a cyborg, and in her society, she has fewer rights than a vid screen. She is only a possession, and worse, she is at the mercy of her stepmother, a woman who has no love for her. Cinder’s skill at fixing things keeps her busy at her repair shop, but all of her earnings go directly to her stepmother. When disaster befalls Cinder’s younger stepsister, the only person in her family to show her any kindness, Cinder is handed over to the government for medical research. Yeah, I said her stepmother wasn’t very nice, right? This heartless act was proof beyond believe that the woman had a heart of stone.
I don’t want to delve too deeply into the plot, because it was a lot of fun following along with Cinder as she discovered the truth about her past, as well as learning more about her world. As she learns more about who she really is, she also learns about the plague and the cruel ambitions of the Lunar Queen. Just when things start to get overwhelming, Cinder’s relationship with the handsome Prince Kai deepens and grows to friendship, and quite possibly more. I loved the soft pacing of this story thread, as Cinder and Kai slowly got to know each other. From totally different backgrounds, they discovered that they had a lot in common, and their romance bloomed very convincingly. They needed each other, someone to lean on and confide in, and since both of them were isolated due to their relative positions in their society, it seemed natural that they would gravitate toward each other.
Cinder is a cyborg, and she doesn’t want Kai to know what she is, so she keeps it a secret. She is afraid of how he will react to the knowledge, and fearful that their friendship will change. At the same time, she knows that a future with him isn’t possible, so she attempts to keep an emotional distance from him, something that is easier said than done. Forbidden romance is a trope that I love – how is it possible for them to ever have a happily ever after, especially with all of the other disruption occurring in their lives? There are so many forces at play to push them apart, and yet they still kept drifting back together. I enjoyed that aspect of the story very much.
The only reason Cinder didn’t get a slightly higher grade is because of the ending. Once again, it’s not so much of an end as it is a stopping point to be continued in the next volume of The Lunar Chronicles. That is my biggest pet peeve about publishing right now; all of the series and all of the cliffhangers drive me nuts. I usually can’t remember what I read yesterday, let alone what I read last year. When new installments of series that I am following are released, there is an uncomfortable adjustment period when I start reading the new adventures. With all of the unread books surrounding me, I don’t feel that I have to time to re-read any, so sometimes the magic doesn’t re-ignite when I pick up a new volume, especially one where high expectations are involved. End rant.
Cinder is an engaging story with touches of fantasy, science fiction, and romance. The setting is richly imagined, and the characters and their situations are compelling. This is a fun read, and I am eager to see what happens next.
Review copy provided by publisher
Cinder is available in both print and eBook