Cinder by Marissa Meyer
CInderella with cyborgs is the best way to describe the first book in the Lunar Chronicles, because that’s exactly what it is, and exactly why I was hesitant to read it. That, and the hype surrounding it. But I gave it a chance, and ended up really enjoying it.
Cinder is a sixteen-year-old cyborg in New Beijing. She doesn’t remember her past, just that she woke up at eleven as a cyborg and a new adopted family. Kai is a Prince of the Eastern Commonwealth who must take up his father’s reign as Emperor much sooner than he anticipated, with the threat of war hanging over his head. There’s a plague ravaging Earth as well, and an evil space Queen with plans of her own.
If you know the story of Cinderella, a tale with 6th century Asian roots, you know the basic premise of Cinder: Outcast-but-secretly-princess lives with mean mother-figure and sisters, forced to do their bidding in order to live. Prince falls in love with sooty girl, her past unbeknownst to him. Major events take place at a ball.
Except Cinder leaves the reader on a cliffhanger and doesn’t end with the happily ever after (I’m assuming that will come at the end of Book 4?).
The Lunar Chronicles are a quartet of fairytale retellings, with books focusing on Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White, and each girl will have her own struggles, but they must unite over their shared interest: their hatred and desire to bring down the evil Queen Levana.
My favorite thing about Cinder was the characters. I liked that Kai wasn’t a perfect leader immediately. He made mistakes, he had awkward moments, and he didn’t seem older than he was. Cinder was sarcastic and smart and brave. And Iko was amazing, and I want my very own Android complete with Iko setting.
My only complaint was that at times it did seem to drag, though I don’t know if it was because I already knew (guessed) what would happen so I wasn’t speeding through, because it had a slow pace, or because I was just extremely tired from work. And as much as I loved Cinder, sometimes I found her slightly annoying (just tell him already, stop reveling in your own misery, etc) and selfish, but she ended up redeeming herself.
I was worried all the people telling me I’d love this book would tarnish my reading and my pleasure of this book, but Cinder didn’t disappoint. It was easy to read, easy to picture (it had a nice East-West blend going on), and fun to read. Yes, we all saw it coming that Cinder is in fact Selena, but that’s not the point. The point is watching Cinder learn it, watching those around her learn it, and watching what happens because of it.
Congratulations world, you were right. The Lunar Chronicles are a delight.