This book is: a futuristic, dystopian reimagining of the Cinderella story.
Other elements: cyborgs, people who live on the moon, global pandemics, hot Princes, strong and admirable women.
Read it: if you love a good fractured fairy tale.
Overall rating: 8.75/10
This book has so many elements that I normally dislike. There are spaceships and moon people and robots – even Cinderella herself is part-robot. If I had read even one summary, I would probably never have given it a chance. But I did no research, just impulse bought it during a Kindle sale, and I’m so glad I did.
The story that begins in Cinder is woven around the bones of the Cinderella story but it goes above and beyond (and under and around) to such a degree that I found myself really wondering what was going to happen. The familiar Cinderella tropes appear – there is a ball, there is a dress from an unexpected source, there is a prince – but the situations are so different that it feels entirely fresh.
She wouldn’t fit in a a formal ball anyway. Even if she did find dress gloves and slippers that could hide her metal monstrosities, her mousy hair would never hold a curl, and she didn’t know the first thing about makeup. She would just end up sitting off the dance floor and making fun of the girls who swooned to get Prince Kai’s attention, pretending she wasn’t jealous. Pretending it didn’t bother her.
Although she was curious about the food. – Page 30
Cinder herself, a “gifted mechanic” and cyborg, is a strong, independent, and resourceful sixteen-year-old with a mysterious past. The accident that nearly killed her when she was a child – the reason she has a mechanical hand and leg – left her with no memories from before age 11. As the story progresses and events converge, Cinder starts to learn that she might not be exactly who she always thought she was.
There’s also a planet-wide plague, a looming inter-galactic military conflict, and a complex and brilliantly crafted world with political and social issues of is own. As a cyborg, Cinder has fewer rights than the human members of her adopted family; something that her stepmother takes advantage of. And of course, there’s a ball.
I actually am going to make this a book review and a half…I read the next book in the series, Scarlet, right after finishing Cinder. Scarlet continues the storyline begun by Cinder but weaves in another storyline – that of tough, Red-Riding-Hood inspired Scarlet and her new friend, who she calls Wolf. Scarlet is just as good as Cinder but for all the same reasons, which is why I’m sticking it onto the end of this review instead of giving it its own. There’s also the fact that I only paused for about 10 minutes between the two books, so I might be fuzzy about where one ended and the other began.
This is the beginning of an excellent series, and I can’t wait to see what Marissa Meyer does next with it. Two more books are expected; the first due in 2014.