I kept seeing this book being recommended on the book blogs I frequent, so although I’ve more than enough mounting up on my TBR pile – I decided to get hold of it. Would it be worth the trouble?
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. 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.
Initially, I wasn’t too sure. The premise seemed rather far-fetched and while I enjoyed the world, I found the overlay of the Cinderella story a bit intrusive. However as the book progressed, I found the ways in which the story spun off from the original, playing against my expectations, added to my appreciation of the world rather than detracting from it – and I was hooked.
Cinder is an interesting character. She could so easily have come across as a total victim, or the vanilla character celebrated by Disney – and she’s neither. She’s awkward, socially inept and a mass of contradictions, which is to be entirely expected with someone who has clearly suffered a major trauma and surfaced to find herself in a largely hostile environment.
The worldbuilding is interesting and nuanced. And, so far, I like the antagonist but I am hoping that during the series, which I intend to read, she will develop so that we better understand her motivations, rather than her merely being the inevitable evil-queen-intent-on-conquest. Meyer has already managed to make us appreciate that Adri, Cinder’s harsh stepmother, is largely motivated by shame and fury. This unwanted cyborg girl was foisted on her by a husband who then upped and died, leaving her to deal with the social stigma surrounding such a being… It doesn’t make her any nicer, but I always appreciate a reasonably well rounded antagonist. I also like the fact that Dr Erland’s role is somewhat ambivalent within the story.
All in all, with the cliff-hanger ending that I sort of expected, it was a far more satisfying, enjoyable read than I’d initially feared and both Himself and I want to read the next book, Scarlet. If you’re looking for a fairy-tale based fantasy with a pleasing science fiction spin and a whole overlay of unexpected plotlines sparking off it, then get hold of Cinder – you won’t be disappointed.