Cinder is set in the future and ties in with the When Are You Reading? Challenge I am taking part in.
Cinder is the most renowned mechanic in New Beijing and she’s also a cyborg. When Prince Kai arrives at her market booth one day, he needs Cinder’s help to fix his android in a matter of great urgency. But before then, Cinder’s stepsister gets infected with a deadly disease. Her legal guardian blames Cinder and volunteers her for the cyborg draft to find a cure. Scientists have Cinder’s DNA sequenced and they make a startling discovery about her origins. As the rival Lunar Queen Levana threatens a war against the Earthen Union, the key to Earth’s fate lies with Cinder.
This is the first time I’ve read a retelling and I like that Marissa Meyer has put a different spin on the fairy tale by making Cinderella a cyborg and setting the story in a dystopian futuristic Asia. There are a number of changes in her retelling which adds to the originality, for instance the younger stepsister, Peony, is actually kind to Cinder. Meyer’s world-building of Earth in the future is believable. AI exists in the form of androids. The novel is full of imaginative touches, one of which is that as a cyborg, Cinder can get information from the net database displayed across her vision. Also, since it’s a sci-fi Cinderella, you can expect nice substitutions for the pumpkin-turned-carriage and glass slipper.
The story is predictable early on, with relation to Cinder’s past. As a result, the big reveal at the end was unsurprising. Some of the clues were easy to guess.
Cinder is impulsive and far from a damsel in distress character. She feels like an outsider because she’s a cyborg. I felt that Cinder’s attraction to Kai seems to be mainly because 1. he’s handsome and 2. he’s the prince. On a positive note, these two characters have a refreshingly subtle romance. Prince Kai himself doesn’t seem to have much of a personality. All we learn is that he really hates Levana. Kai has the makings of a good ruler, though: he is shown to put his duty for his people before his own personal feelings.
Ironically, the only thing which I found far-fetched in a novel set in the future was Kai’s openness with Cinder. He barely knows her and yet he shares a lot of information about Levana. Maybe it’s because they’re both of a similar age and Kai feels that he can trust Cinder. Neither Kai or Cinder seem to have any friends who aren’t androids.
Levana is a great villain; she’s scheming and ruthless. There’s not much grey area, however, and she is depicted as being purely evil.
I think the character who is closest to being Cinder’s fairy godmother is Dr Erland, the scientist. Although he’s a male, it is Dr Erland who reveals to Cinder what she is truly capable of.
Interestingly, the author has interwoven the story and characters from the series, and you get a glimpse of the Snow White retelling in Cinder. Overall, I enjoyed this debut novel by Marissa Meyer and would like to read the next books in The Lunar Chronicles series.
My rating: ★★★★☆