**** Cinder, by Marissa Meyer


A forbidden romance.

A deadly plague.

Earth’s fate hinges on one girl . . .

CINDER, a gifted mechanic in New Beijing, is also a cyborg. She’s reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s sudden illness. But when her life becomes entwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she finds herself at the centre of a violent struggle between the desires of an evil queen – and a dangerous temptation.

Cinder is caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal. Now she must uncover secrets about her mysterious past in order to protect Earth’s future.

This is not the fairytale you remember. But it’s one you won’t forget.

I don’t remember who suggested that I read Cinder, but I am very glad I did. I read through this book is only four days, and from the very beginning I knew that it had the page turner factor – that quality of writing that makes it so that you can’t stop reading, even though you should really just go to sleep now.

Cinder is a science-fiction novel that is based on the fairy tale of Cinderella, but that isn’t too tethered to it. Some fairy tale re-imagining suffer from predictability, but it is not the case here. While the author slips in many nods to the original story throughout the course of the book, and some things are universal (the ball!), the story remains fresh and surprising. I am very curious to see what she does with the other three books in the series, based respectively on Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Snow White. I have already ordered all three of these books as soon as I finished the first one. I just couldn’t wait!

Some of my favourite elements in the story were things that aren’t inspired by Cinderella, but completely original to this version, such as the sci-fi world building. I loved that it was placed in an Asian nation, although I am weary of these western science fiction worlds that are “inspired” by Asian culture, like Firefly that the author credits as an inspiration. Firefly is a well known offender of the “Asian culture without any Asian character in it” trope, and while I love the concept of a futuristic world where every culture is meshed together, I just don’t know enough to tell whether this goal is well realized in this book or not. I do wish there was more world building in this book though: more descriptions of the buildings, and people, and costumes. More customs and culture, more of a glance into what this worlds is like so that I can better imagine it. I feel like the author delved deep into her characters and the plot, which I adore, but might have left aside some of the more complex context of the world that would have made it feel more real. For example, I didn’t get a clear idea of why the cyborgs are so hated, or the change that a united world government would bring, or anything about the Lunars and their impact on culture, aside from « everyone is scared of them. » I suppose that the author might be waiting to bring all of this up in other books, and I am excited to find out. But all of this are thoughts that I had after reading the novel; the writing is so gripping that while reading the book, I had absolutely no dissatisfaction with it at all, which is a goal that all books should strive to reach.

I also very much enjoyed the androids, as I have a soft spot for semi-sentient AIs in fiction. I wished there were more description of them though, as I had trouble picturing what the robots looked like, or how big they were.

I also really, really liked that Cinder got along well with at least one of her step-sisters. As the years pass, my tolerance for girls hating each other and being « bitchy » has really decreased, and while I absolutely adore Cinderella (which is probably my favourite of the classic princesses), this makes a lot of adaptations of the tale (including the original one, or as original as I can find) really painful for me. I love the versions of the tale in which she has at least one ally in her household, one sister that isn’t as mean as the other one and their step-mother, and the quiet story of resistance that happens between the lines of this acknowledgement of each other in shared misery. I was also surprisingly fond of prince Kai, although I do hope that the author will not inject a lot of angst based on misunderstanding and people not talking to each other into the other books. 

The sequels to Cinder should arrive at my house any day now, so stay tuned for more! (Also: the covers are beautiful.)

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