Author: Marissa Meyer (author website)
Release Date: January 5th 2012 by Puffin
Age Group: Young Adult/Adult
Cinder is not the fairy tale you remember. Dark and strange—as all proper fairy tales are—it seamlessly blends old and new with a future so bizarre it would not seem out of place alongside the twisted stories of the brothers Grimm.
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
The StoryLinh Cinder is New Beijing’s most talented mechanic. Broken androids, hovers, ports, she’s your girl. Yet despite her reputation and skill, Cinder is a cyborg—a human ‘repaired’ with robot parts following a horrific accident—for all intents and purposes, a slave. Reviled and subjugated by her stepmother and stepsister, her closest friend is an android with a faulty personality chip. But Cinder’s problems are about to get worse. The world is being torn apart by a devastating plague, and the Empire lives in constant threat of war with the strange race of—wait for it—moon people, called Lunars. When Crown Prince Kai turns up at Cinder’s shop with a broken android she finds herself thrust into political intrigue, betrayals and secrets that could change not only Cinder’s fate, but that of two worlds.
Once Upon A Time, There Was a Girl…She was fair and kind, but she had a wicked stepmother who… hmmm…
Let’s start again.
Cinder is not Cinderella. Resigned to a life of injustice and hard labour, Cinder is no damsel in distress. She longs for something more, certainly, but she harbours no expectations or dreams of a knight in shining armour, or a happily ever after. The life of a cyborg is hard and cruel in Cinder’s world, and they’re treated as second-class citizens or tools at best, and reviled and used as test subjects at worse. But Cinder isn’t a tool, and she isn’t an object. She’s a very real teenage girl trapped in a shell of flesh and fabrication, one who feels with the intensity of any other, holds the capacity to love, dream and learn. Cinder isn’t the sobbing scullery maid of folk tales gone by—in fact, she’s physically incapable of tears—she’s something more. Something stronger, tougher. Pieces of her are forged steel, and they’re not her prosthetic limbs. This steel is tempered with fragility, and an aching longing for something more that makes her sympathetic, while never pathetic, or pitiful. Perhaps best of all, Cinder is smart. She’s intelligent, resourceful, and she has real skills and a trade. She’s an admirable and genuinely likeable character. Her humanity makes her relatable, and Cinder is, for all intents and purposes, as human as you and me.
Humans and Cyborgs and Androids, Oh My!It’s the question of Cinder’s humanity that drives a crucial part of the book’s plot. Alongside the prince charmings, wicked stepmothers and extravagant balls is a completely different moral story. The legal standing and recognition of cyborgs in Meyer’s world mirrors our own world’s civil rights shame, but in this world, there is no Martin Luther King Jr, no Ghandi, no Dalai Lama. There is no champion of equality, of the downtrodden. The towering sense of injustice is crushing and infuriating, and it lends Cinder a gravity completely separate from its classic roots. There is hope in this world, though. In one Prince Kai. While it would not be hard to wax poetic on the young prince’s many positive attributes, it’s sufficient to say that yes, he is a perfect Prince Charming, but more so, he’s the face of hope. He’s more than a happily ever after, if he is that at all, he’s the face of change, or a better future for his people.
The Verdict:Cinder (the book, not the character) is like the classic Cinderella you know and love in many ways. Except it’s not. Meyer’s writing has a dreamy, faery tale-like quality which perfectly complements Cinder’s faery tale premise. An odd, quirky world perpetuates the folk story feel, and it’s dark and twisty in a way stories like Cinderella traditionally were, pre-Disney. Yet it’s gritty in a manner these stories weren’t. Meyer’s taken Blade Runner, stuck it in a blender with Ever After—hell, why not add some Sailor Moon, too—to create something different, and wholly unexpected.
Cinder is tantalisingly familiar, but filled with archetypes, not clichés. Loathsome characters are tempered with touches of humanity, and the ‘good guys’ have faults that go beyond mere foibles. While one character in particular could go down as being all bad, it is diabolically well done.
Sci-fi for people who don’t ‘do’ sci-fi, Cinder has something to offer everyone: action, romance, politics, pending interplanetary war and cyborgs. Compelling and gripping from start to finish, Meyer has cut a rare and sparkling gem. Shining and multi-faceted, Cinder is rich and colourful. It’s not the faery-tale you know. It’s something more.
Books in This Series:
- Scarlet (expected 2013)
- Cress (expected 2014)
- Winter (expected 2015)