I love a good fairy tale retelling. (That is clear to anyone who follows me on Twitter and sees my comments about Once Upon a Time every Sunday night.) I also enjoy really well-written science fiction. It should come as no surprise, then, that I found Cinder by Marissa Meyer to be a real winner. This book combines the classic tale of Cinderella with cyborgs…kind of Disney meets Terminator (or Battlestar Galactica). What more could a nerdy girl ask for?
Cinder doesn’t have what one would call an easy life. Her stepmother treats her as nothing more than a slave. Everyone around her gives her a wide berth. But why? What’s wrong with Cinder? Well, she’s not entirely human. After a horrible childhood accident (that she has no memory of), parts of Cinder’s body were replaced with mechanical and computerized parts. Those around her consider Cinder, a cyborg, to be disposable and easily overlooked…unless they need something fixed, of course. Cinder has an uncanny ability to fix nearly anything that’s broken…and it’s this ability that leads her to an encounter with the Crown Prince of New Beijing, Kai.
Kai goes into the local marketplace looking to have his android fixed, and his search leads him to the best mechanic available, Cinder. He doesn’t know she’s a cyborg, and she has no intention of telling him. But Cinder—and Kai—have no way of knowing that forces are at work that will reveal all their secrets and put both of them—and the people they love the most—in more danger than they could possibly fathom…
A devastating plague is sweeping across the earth. The emperor, Kai’s father, is in the final throes of the disease. Peony, Cinder’s beloved stepsister—and her only real friend—has just been infected. Cinder is blamed by her stepmother for Peony’s sickness, but even Cinder is not prepared for the lengths her stepmother will go to for retribution. Cinder is “volunteered” as a test subject for plague research. As everyone in New Beijing knows, this is a certain death sentence…one that Cinder has no intention of accepting quietly.
As it turns out, Cinder will have bigger problems than being a glorified science experiment…for she is immune to the disease that is engulfing the world. How is this possible? What’s so special about Cinder, a cyborg that no one—except maybe Prince Kai—wants to befriend? Cinder soon learns that she’s even more special than her cyborg parts would indicate. She may, in fact, be the salvation that the entire world is looking for. As everyone knows, though, one person’s salvation is often another’s destruction. Who will ultimately be destroyed? Who will be saved? That answer may just rest with the decisions made by Cinder, a girl forced to deal with more than anyone should ever ask of her. What will happen? I’ll leave that for you to find out!
I admit that it took me a little while to get truly invested in Cinder. About a quarter of the way through, though, I got absolutely hooked, and I couldn’t wait to get home from work to immerse myself in this story. Yes, there was a ton of foreshadowing, and anyone familiar with the basics of the Cinderella story could predict what was going to happen, but there were a few surprises thrown in that made this an action-packed tale that, in my opinion, male and female readers could enjoy.
Cinder is also a fine read for readers in middle school on up. I’m not one to pay a huge amount of attention to bad language in books, but I can’t recall much of it jumping out at me in this book. There was a sort of innocent love story in this book, but, again, there was nothing that really struck me as being inappropriate for middle grade readers.
I love that, at its heart, Cinder is a science fiction book geared primarily toward teen female readers. For too long, girls (and women) who love science fiction have been bombarded with loads of male protagonists, but we’ve had very few—relatively speaking—that we as females could identify with. I hope many other authors will follow Marissa Meyer’s example and write quality science fiction with strong female characters!
I look forward to reading more about Cinder in the next book in this series, Scarlet, which will be released on February 5th of 2013. Book three, Cress, is scheduled for a 2014 release, and book four, Winter, is set for a 2015 release. There are also a couple of free ebook novellas that go along with this series. You can find more information about those on Goodreads.
If I still haven’t convinced you to give Cinder a try, visit the author’s website at http://www.marissameyer.com/ for a closer look at this series. You may also want to check out the video below to hear author Marissa Meyer tell even more about this fabulous first book in the Lunar Chronicles.