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.
(Summary from Goodreads)
Review: I happen to love fairytale retellings. When I first started reading, I devoured books like Ella Enchanted, Fairest, and The Frog Princess. It'd also be a good time for me to admit that I grew up with the Disney classics, and among the classics, a fair amount of them were princess stories. So yeah, obviously, I like princesses. And tall tales. That kind of stuff.
Cinder takes place in a futuristic setting here on Earth. There are quick mentions of the other parts of the world from Prince Kai's point of view and vague comments about Europe from Cinder's, but the main focus in setting is New Beijing. Cinder is a cyborg who works as a mechanic. She lives under her distant and bigoted "step mother" and has to make the money to support her household. In this society, cyborgs serve as second class citizens and Cinder faces a lot of prejudice because of it.
I liked the characters in this book very much, specifically, Cinder. Unlike the original Cinderella, Cinder didn't just sit there and take the crap people threw at her. She fought back. She had opinions and wants and dreams that didn't include getting gussied up for a prince. (Although however much she denies it, she does like Prince Kai.) Cinder was smart, strong, and rather determined. Of course, she had her vulnerabilities as well, but her traits tended to balance each other out. Cinder didn't just sit there and let things happen; she made things happen.
Prince Kai was a great character as well. His unease with his position seemed realistic and was actually charming. But despite his uncertainty, Kai still stepped up and did his best. Marissa Meyer really took the whole "Prince Charming" cliche and beat it to death with a screwdriver. He was a genuinely likable character.
Peony and Iko were adorable as well but I'm not even gonna start on those two.
The setting of New Beijing captivated me. I felt like Marissa Meyer could have fleshed out East Commonwealth a bit more, or at least give us a more descriptive taste of it, but it was still pretty amazing the way it was. There were some very visual scenes in the story and it left me craving for more. The culture Marissa integrated into the story takes some traditional Chinese influences and and added a few sci-fi elements to it. There's a lot more potential in her world and I feel like she could have dug deeper.
Another complaint I have about this particular book are the surprises. I'm not sure if the author wanted us to catch on before Cinder did, but I felt like the surprises were pretty obvious from the beginning of the story.
All in all, this was a captivating and thrilling read. It sucked me in from the first page and didn't let go until the very last word. The ending seems a bit unresolved and I can't wait to get my hands on the next book in the Lunar Chronicles.
Rating: 4/5 stars