Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1)I'll admit to being fairly skeptical, though admittedly intrigued about Cinder when it first came out. Cinderella had always been my absolute favorite fairytale growing up - my mom used to read me the book when I was little and after that I'd just adored the Disney animated film...so this story was very much engrained in me as I'm sure it was for so many other readers. I know I'm not the only one who was a little bit hesitant of the thought of a beloved classic fairytale character being... a cyborg! But, considering my recent love affair with all things sci-fi (thank you Doctor Who), I decided it was high time I bow down to peer pressure and see how me and Cinder would hit it off. I am happy to say that you were ALL right about this book! So if anyone out there is still on the fence about Cinder, I recommend picking it up right now - you won't regret it!
by Marissa Meyer
Published January 3rd, 2012 by Feiwel & Friends
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.
The story takes place in an Eastern setting on a futuristic planet Earth - which reminded me of Sailor Moon (Eeek)!! In this story though, cyborgs are well integrated into society, even though they are seen and treated as 'less-than human'. Cinder is clearly the outcast in her adoptive family but not because she's adopted. No, it's because Cinder is a cyborg. It's not all bad though because being a cyborg has it's benefits, chiefly her uncanny ability to fix things, earning her a reputation as the best mechanic in New Beijing! It is that reputation that attracts the charming Prince Kai into her shop one day needing an android fixed in a hurry. While he tries to downplay it's importance, Cinder sees the urgency in his eyes and vows to get it done in a hurry - which would be simple enough for Cinder, but soon she'll have a lot more to worry about: the Plague that has been devastating Earth for over a decade strikes Cinder's younger (and beloved) sister. Fear of losing her youngest daughter makes Cinder's stepmother make a horrible choice, threatening to end Cinder's life as she knows it...
Cinder the first book in the Lunar Chronicles and it's is a bit tough to characterize - On the one hand, it's clearly sci-fi with the cyborgs, androids and even Lunar people. On the other hand, the plague Earth is dealing with gives the book a dystopian quality as well, even though it's only been going on for ten years. On top of all that it is obviously a fairytale retelling! You wouldn't think it would mesh so convincingly together but author Marissa Meyer does it flawlessly. I found myself quickly engrossed in the story and wanting to know more, because even though it is a retelling...and you can sort of guess the overall direction of some events, the story still manages to ooze originality and the futuristic modern take on the MC makes even the parts you're expecting seem fresh. Big props to Miss Meyer for that remarkable feat!
Cinder herself is very relatable despite her foreign surroundings and I found myself taking to her quickly. She is far from a damsel in distress even her home situation does indeed cause her some distress. She's independent, level-headed and she doesn't spend the book running after her Prince Charming. She has a quiet honor and fire that really tugged at my heartstrings and made her feel very real to me. Dr Erland, Iko & Peony were all memorable and endearing secondary characters but none was more memorable than Prince Kai himself. Charming in all kinds of ways, this guy was a really welcomed take on your typical prince. Cinder also has it's fair share of villains, in all varieties: from the selfish adoptive mother, a bully of an older sister...even an evil Queen! All of this combined more than enough to hold my interest throughout, AND leave me eager to start Scarlet!
Cinder did very much feel like a first book in a series to me though, not because of excessive world building but more due to the fact that we're only being introduced to everything - and everyone. I wanted to go deeper into the world, Cinder's past and well, everything else! The ending made it clear though that the story is just beginning and I have a feeling the best is yet to come. I'd recommend Cinder to anyone and everyone, even readers not usually into sci-fi, or even dystopians - if you loved Cinderella and other fairytales as a child and are willing to try out a story with a unique premise and modern characters, then Cinder is a must-read!
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars ★★★★✩