Author: Marissa Meyer
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Publisher: Puffin Books
Publication Date: 3rd January 2012
Rating: 4/5 stars
Cinder, a gifted mechanic in New Beijing, is also a cyborg. She’s reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s sudden illness. But when her life becomes entwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s she finds herself at the centre of a violent struggle between the desires of an evil queen – and a dangerous temptation.
Cinder is caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal. Now she must uncover secrets about her mysterious past to protect Earth’s future.
I read a lot of fantasy but am always wary of science fiction. My current obsession with YA, however, wouldn’t let me overlook the series of the moment (according to my tumblr feed, that is). In addition, I couldn’t stay away from a fairy-tale retelling! While there aren’t too many links with the original Cinderella (aside from the handsome prince, a wicked stepmother and a fancy ball), having the connection with a familiar story helped me to relate to this entirely new world of science fiction.
The book is set in the future, in a universe ravaged by the fear of a deadly plague. In the past, people were sent to the moon and have evolved to become Lunars, an eerie race of people who resemble humans, yet have the power to manipulate electromagnetic energy to both create glamours for themselves and to control the actions of others. The Lunars are ruled by an evil queen and Prince Kai, of New Beijing, is searching for their lost princess in an attempt to thwart Queen Levana’s power.
Cinder is a fantastic character – I fell in love with this hard-working mechanic who, in this new world, still has teenage problems, albeit slightly more serious than anything I have had to deal with. She is relatable and at times very witty. I liked Marissa Meyer’s exploration of intolerance between humans and cyborgs – Cinder is disenfranchised and distrusted because she has robotic elements. Iko is another wonderful character, a robot with a personality malfunction which leads to her adopting human traits. Her actions make the book light-hearted in otherwise serious moments.
There is a minor love story between Cinder and Prince Kai – two people who come from very different social classes and shouldn’t be together but it leans more towards the young adult trope where Cinder can’t figure out her feelings and doesn’t want to encourage him. There is also the additional problem that she doesn’t want him to know of her cyborg-ness. Her deliberations over Prince Kai were a little irritating but not so much as to make this a bad book.
Being based on a fairytale, the plot is very predictable but I don’t think that detracted from the story at all. The setting along with the robots and cyborgs were incredibly entertaining and I think the predictable story actually increased my enjoyment. It is a very easy, relaxing read with great entertainment value – I read it in an afternoon and can’t wait to get my hands on the rest of the series! I also think that this might lead me to explore more science fiction novels, a genre I have previously avoided; Marissa Meyer, I think, has given young adult readers a step into this genre and especially given girls a reason to consider reading more of what has always seemed to me a male-targeted category of book.