Cinder by Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles #1)
Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a 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.
As a kid, I loved fairy tales and princesses as much as the next little girl. My favorite was Cinderella, and I was obsessed with her. I owned every version of the story I could get my hands on - including a retelling where "Cinderella" was a cowboy named Bubba. Cinder blows all of those versions out of the water. Meyer captures the best parts of Cinderella's story and the best elements of sci-fi and turns them into a phenomenal book.
When I was little, the thing I loved most about Cinderella was her strength - despite everything. Meyer expresses that perfectly. Linh Cinder is by far my favorite incarnation of Cinderella. While the Grimm brothers portrayed a girl waiting for her prince to save her, Meyer brings a more heroic Cinderella to life. Cinder is determined and brave, both loving and lovable. Casting her as a cyborg was an ingenious decision, and it adds another whole dimension to the story.
The detailed way Meyer intertwines science fiction and fairy tales is imaginative and engrossing. I enjoyed looking for the classic elements of Cinderella that found their way into Cinder, and I was not disappointed. From the lost shoe to the magic pumpkin, Meyer finds ways to adapt the fairy tale to a futuristic setting - which is ingenious in its own right.
For the most part, Meyer's world-building is spot-on. The few little slips here and there could very well be explained in the next book, and they weren't major enough to interfere with the story. Cinder's world is inventive and well-thought out, from the ruthless Lunars to the almost-human androids. A race of people living on the moon could have seemed far-fetched and even silly in some plot lines, but the struggles of the characters and the fairy tale make the story seem familiar and realistic.
Even if you don't typically like fairy tale retellings, if you're a fan of sci-fi, you should definitely check out Cinder. While I'm fairly biased to Cinderella stories, this book has a lot going for it. Unlike most fairy tales, Cinder is exciting and unpredictable - once upon a time doesn't necessarily lead to a happily ever after. Cinder is one of the best books I've read this year, and I absolutely can't wait to read more.
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