Publication Date: January 3, 2012
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction with a splash of Fairytale.
Source: Bought it
Book Description from Publisher:
Sixteen-year-old Cinder is considered a technological mistake by most of society and a burden by her stepmother. Being Cyborg does have its benefits, though: Cinder’s brain interface has given her an uncanny ability to fix things (robots, hovers, her own malfunctioning parts), making her the best mechanic in New Beijing. This reputation brings Prince Kai himself to her weekly market booth, needing her to repair a broken android before the annual ball. He jokingly calls it “a matter of national security,” but Cinder suspects it’s more serious than he’s letting on.
Although eager to impress the prince, Cinder’s intentions are derailed when her younger stepsister, and only human friend is infected with the fatal plague that’s been devastating Earth for a decade. Blaming Cinder for her daughter’s illness, Cinder’s stepmother volunteers her body for plague research, an “honor” that no one has survived.
But it doesn’t take long for the scientists to discover something unusual about their new guinea pig. Something others would kill for.
In this futuristic retelling of the classic Cinderella story we are introduced to Cinder- a cyborg (human but with technological enhancements) and famed mechanic of New Beijing, working in her weekly stall at the market when she meets Prince Kai of the Commonwealth. Incidentally, he needs her mechanical expertise to repair an android that holds some critical information. This fateful encounter begins Cinder’s whirlwind quest for freedom from her ‘wicked’ stepmother, with a backdrop of political intrigue amid a widespread deadly plague. I picked up this book after hearing nothing but high praise for it in the days before release. Plus I’m a huge science fiction geek, and love fairy tales, so this just seemed like a perfect combination for me.
I loved the cover, it’s simple in its design but iconic in the way it brought together the story of Cinderella using the ‘slipper’ and science fiction by showing the tiniest hint of mechanical skeleton with a bold red colouring for the shoe to catch your attention.
I tore through it in a day, I honestly couldn’t put it down because the pace was perfect. The moments of action were interspersed with slower dialogue scenes, but these slower scenes are vital to explaining the intricacies of the plot and tended to have one-liners, but I absolutely loved the one liners - no matter how corny they are, they lightened the mood in serious situations and brought life to the characters. The plot was a bit predictable, but I think that’s to be expected with a retelling- most people know what generally happens, but the foreshadowing and twist reveals were still brilliantly executed.
The setting is a rich eclectic mix of modern and traditional architectures which make up New Beijing. The technology mixed with the more slum like areas were extremely effective in showing the social divide, and the gruesome details of what becomes of plague victims.
Oh the characters. I LOVED Cinder’s sidekick robot Iko!! Iko was just so adorable and reminded me of the Tachikoma tanks from the manga/anime Ghost in the Shell, I had the dubbed voice and their little claw flailing expressions running through my head whenever Iko was talking. If you’ve never seen Ghost in the Shell and these Tachikoma’s read Cinder and then watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52qPU0lWqhU&feature=related .
Cinder to me was a very level headed, rational- straight forward individual, and this is probably the robotics side of her talking, but you can see the human side in the way she shows concern and emotions for others, Marissa just did a great job balancing out her features.
Then there’s Prince Kai… I’m quite conflicted as to what I think about him, one thing’s for sure he’s not your typical hoity toity royal, and that’s where he wins some brownie points, especially in the way he interacts with others, but there’s just some certain elements to his character such as self depreciation that gets a little annoying over time.
One set of antagonists in the form of Cinder’s stepmother Adri and stepsister Pearl are perfect as the cruel slave drivers, in contrast with the other stepsister Peony as a kind friend to Cinder. Then there’s Queen Levana, ruler of the totalitarian and threatening Lunars from the moon, with their whole mysterious background filled with myths, legends and magic. I can’t wait to find out more about the Lunars.
When I finished reading Cinder, my first thought was huh, this is kind of like Sailormoon meets Battlestar Galactica. At this point I didn’t know that Marissa started out writing Sailormoon fan fictions - but after I found out I was even more excited about this because as a 90’s kid, Sailormoon was the standard breakfast TV show (I was almost always late for elementary school because the show didn’t end till 9 am. ) and it was just a great reminder! All in all Marissa did a great job taking the bones of the Cinderella story and making it her own, this is definitely a must read!
Rating: 5/5 Steaming Cups of Tea