by Marissa Meyer
Book One in the Lunar Chronicles
In one of the markets of New Beijing, a young woman named Cinder works hard to keep her stepmother and stepsisters fed and sheltered. She is a gifted mechanic, so talented that word of her reaches the royal palace, and the prince himself brings his android to her for repair. People might wonder how a girl like her became so good at fixing machines, but it’s no surprise, for Cinder is a cyborg, part machine herself. Cyborgs are treated as second-class citizens in New Beijing, though, so she does her best to keep it hidden. There’s enough trouble going around as it is; a horrible plague is sweeping through the city and killing indiscriminately, while the queen of the Lunar people has threatened to declare war on Earth if the prince doesn’t marry her. Through a series of unfortunate events, Cinder becomes enmeshed in the drama of the palace in this sci-fi retelling of the classic fairy tale Cinderella.
I loved Cinder. I couldn’t put it down, so I whizzed through the entire novel in a couple of hours. It was just so much fun! Since the book is a retelling of Cinderella, there are certain plot points that must be hit: Cinder must have an evil stepmother, she must go to a ball and dance with the prince, so on and so forth. But it never seems as if the characters are being forced into certain situations due to plot restrictions by the original tale. The action and events all unfold quite naturally.
One of the best innovations that Meyer brought to the original story was the introduction of a secondary villain/rival for Cinderella. The course of true love never runs smooth and all that, so the beautiful Queen Levana appears to muck up the budding romance between Cinder and the prince. Cold, calculating, powerful and lovely beyond measure, Queen Levana is a classic femme fatale who will stop at nothing to get what she wants…and what she wants is to marry Prince Kai and bring all of Earth on its knees before her. She’s dangerous and cruel, and more than a little power-mad. Levana is the perfect foil to Cinder, who doesn’t even control her own life, thanks to her bitter stepmother Adri.
I also really liked that the story was set in a futuristic China. So much of young adult fiction seems to be set in America, even when the authors themselves are from other countries. It was really nice to get a different culture for once – and wait, does this mean we have an Asian male romantic lead, that rarest of creatures in pop culture? Why yes…yes it does. Score one for cultural diversity!
5 out of 5 stars
To preview the first five chapters of Cinder for free, click here.
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