‘Cinder’s netlink took over, as it did in moments when she couldn’t think for herself. Searching, connecting, feeding information to her she didn’t want.
Letumosis. The blue fever. Worldwide pandemic. Hundreds of thousands dead. Unknown cause, unknown cure.’
Cinder is a talented mechanic in New Beijing, providing for her stepmother and two stepsisters in a society ravaged by a terrible plague, for which no cure can be found. Reviled by both her stepmother and society for being a cyborg (a human with mechanical parts) she feels like a constant outsider and longs only to escape from her humdrum life, until a chance meeting with the handsome Prince Kai and a terrible tragedy throws her life into chaos.
I have always been a huge fan of fairytale retellings, and this has been one of the best ones I’ve read in a long time. Although it is only very loosely based around the Cinderella story, it is definitely an incredibly unique and imaginative adaptation, and despite it having many of the typical YA sci-fi elements in it, I have never read anything quite like it.
The world of the story immediately drew me in; I loved how it was both similar yet completely different from our own world (which is actually the same world…it’s just years and years in the future in this book!). Whilst there is still our modern day obsession with celebrities and people seem to be glued to their port screens (what I assume is like a tablet or iPad or something?), technology has advanced massively to the point where people who have lost limbs can have them replaced by mechanical ones, and fully functioning androids are commonplace. However, despite the advancement in society from our own time, the people live in constant fear of an incurable plague and a dangerous race of people who live on the moon (yes, it sounds kind of far-fetched, but it’s awesome!), which certainly gives the novel a dystopian edge, and raises the stakes.
Cinder was also immensely likable as a main character, and you could really sympathise with her as due to her being a cyborg she is considered to be a second-rate citizen, and suffers a lot of discrimination from both strangers and her own family because of it. Her relationships with her stepsister Peony, and her android Iko (who was a really loveable character, to say she was a robot!) were really heart warming, whilst I immediately came to hate her stepmother Adri for the way she treats her.
Prince Kai was also incredibly likeable, although in many ways he was quite a typical love interest, and I wasn’t overly wowed by his character. However, I liked that their relationship was relatively realistic (well, as realistic as a Prince/Cyborg relationship can be) in that although they may have been initially attracted to each other, they didn’t catch sight of one another and immediately fall in love and be unable to think about anything else, as so often happens in YA. Their relationship was a nice, slow-burning one, and wasn’t the main focus of the book, which made for a refreshing change. As for the Lunar Queen Levana, she made an incredibly frightening villain, and I truly felt for Kai in his dilemma over whether or not he should marry her.
Plot-wise, this book was pretty fast-moving, which I liked as I didn’t find myself getting bored at any point. However, I did find that the big twist at the end was very predictable. Almost as soon as a certain thing was mentioned within the first few chapters (I’m trying not to be spoilery!), I knew where the book was heading, and in some ways I found the way the book ended a bit of a let down, and not altogether satisfying. It also left me wondering how the next book in the series is going to start. Is the next book going to be about Cinder, or is the idea of the series that each book has a different central protagonist who is based on a fairytale character (I could actually just Google this but I’m lazy!)?
I’m certainly interested to carry on the series though, and overall I really enjoyed this book. It was unlike anything else I have ever read, and I really liked both the characters and Marissa Meyer’s depiction of a future Earth. I really can’t believe I waited this long to read this, and I can’t wait to carry on the series!