Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Author: Marissa Meyer
Series: Lunar Chronicles #1
Release Date: January 3, 2012
Dates Read: May 5-7, 2012
Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, the 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.
Cinder is utterly original, with stunningly familiar glimpses of a recognizable fairy tale. The story is indeed a retelling of Cinderella, but it is so much more. Meyer creates a world where humans and androids coexist in the crowded city of New Beijing. However, the androids and the cyborgs are sub-class citizens, considered property of their wards. Even if cyborgs are mostly human, they are not allowed money, possessions, or freedom. A deadly plague called leutomosis is cutting its way through the population, affecting humans and cyborgs alike, sowing panic and fear through the city in its wake.
Lihn Cinder is New Beijing’s best mechanic, but she is a cyborg. She knows little to nothing about her past, only that she was left by her stepfather in her stepmother’s care when he succumbed to the plague. Her stepmother continues to rue the day her husband left her with such a creature. When one of her daughters falls ill, she is quick to blame the cyborg mutant she has been saddled with. Cinder is caught between a past she doesn’t remember, a future she doesn’t know how to deal with, a doctor who holds the key to more knowledge about her than she possesses, and an alarmingly friendly prince who enters her life but doesn’t know the first thing about her darkest secrets. With the constant threat of the cunning, ruthless Lunars looming ever closer, both Prince Kai and Cinder must make some very difficult decisions, and pray that they will not do something they regret.
Marissa Meyer’s debut effort is a clear success. Although the premise originally sounds outlandish, she succeeds in building a world, atmosphere, characters and relationships that make the story not only acceptable, but captivating and immersive. This novel is so much more than a simple retelling of the Cinderella fairy tale, but every time a parallel arises, it is a pleasure to recognize the similarities. I had solved most of the novel’s mysteries and twists long before they presented themselves, but this did not impact my enjoyment of the story. The only real flaws I picked out were a few instances of incorrect word choices or phrasings or spellings that momentarily disrupted my immersion in the book. One such example is “coy pond”, which put me in mind of the Twitter account, @stealthmountain. But these are small, nitpicky things. The story itself was very well-crafted, original, and entertaining. I would recommend it to fans of science fiction, androids, plagues, fairy tale retellings, and those just looking for something different. I eagerly await Scarlet in 2013.