“Even in the Future the Story Begins with Once Upon a Time.”
Cinder was the July Book of the Month for the YA Book Bloggers group on Goodreads. If you are a YA Book Blogger, consider joining our group by clicking on the blue cloud below.
Fairytale retellings are notoriously difficult to pull off – at least so far as this reader is concerned – but Marissa Meyer managed to successfully do just that by expanding on the humdrum classic that is Cinderella with a fresh cast, captivating setting and world-building, and an extraordinary plot.
Sixteen-year-old Cinder is considered a technological mistake by most of society and a burden by her stepmother. Being cyborg does have its benefits, though: Cinder’s brain interference has given her an uncanny ability to fix things (robots, hovers, her own malfunctioning parts), making her the best mechanic in New Beijing. This reputation brings Prince Kai himself to her weekly market booth, needing her to repair a broken android before the annual ball. He jokingly calls it “a matter of national security,” but Cinder suspects it’s more serious than he’s letting on.
Although eager to impress the prince, Cinder’s intentions are derailed when her younger stepsister, and only human friend, is infected with the fatal plague that’s been devastating Earth for a decade. Blaming Cinder for her daughter’s illness, Cinder’s stepmother volunteers her body for plague research, an “honor” that no one has survived.
But it doesn’t take long for the scientists to discover something unusual about their new guinea pig. Something others would kill for.
When I think of Cinderella, I think of a perky, blonde-haired, annoyingly chirpy girl who sings to birds. What I don’t think of? Cyborgs. But once I realised that’s exactly what Cinder is, I quickly fell in love with the novel. Cinder is one of the most amazing protagonists I’ve come across in YA fiction. Aelin Galathynius? I don’t know her.
Cinder is a mechanic with a wry attitude that made me laugh out loud. She is feisty, damaged, and wants to be normal more than anything. Cyborgs are detested in Cinder’s society and Cinder has never fit in, even within her step-family. Her stepmother, Adri, despises everything about Cinder and is cruel to her. Pearl, her stepsister, is mean and spiteful. But Peony, her sweet stepsister, genuinely loves Cinder and wants the best for her. And Iko, the family’s personal robot, adores Cinder. Cinder goes through some fascinating character development as she comes to terms with who she is, and learns to accept what she has become.
I had mixed feelings about Kai, the “Prince Charming” of the story. There were many moments I, like Cinder (and Iko and everyone else) fell for him, but just as many where I wanted to, for lack of a better term, punch him in the face. His interactions with Cinder were written to perfection – you could practically feel the chemistry between them. And while he was the romantic interest, that wasn’t his only role like the prince in the original story. Prince Kai genuinely cares for his people and would, literally, do anything for them. At times, this includes making some hard decisions, although he thinks they are for the right reasons.
“Imagine there was a cure, but finding it would cost you everything. It would completely ruin your life. What would you do?”
The plot was ingenious, and I’m a little jealous I didn’t come up with something like this myself. But what impressed me the most was the world building: set almost 150 years after World War IV, the world is split into seperate kingdoms and presidencies – a global Union with one common enemy: the moon; or rather, the people who live on the moon. Levana, the Queen of Luna (moon), is set to wage war against Earth and the only thing that will stop her is marriage to Prince Kai. Levana is a vindictive and unforgiving queen who will stop at nothing to get what she wants. I really look forward to seeing what else she does in the next novel – you guys all know I love the villain.
Meyer’s writing was astounding, and the characters were incredibly well-written. They were fully fleshed out characters, with distinctive personalities. Even the characters I hated I had to admit were real. The story also progressed perfectly, and the scenes, as well as pertinent information, were paced out very well.
I have had Cinder on my TBR longer than any other YA novel. I have been meaning to read this book for years, and I’m so glad I finally got the chance. I can’t wait to read the other novels in the series. If you haven’t read Cinder yet (which I doubt because I’m the last person in the world who has read it), do so immediately. You are in for a wild ride.