(Cover picture courtesy of Books By Their Cover.)
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.
(Summary courtesy of Amazon.)
When my best friend gave me this book and said, “Carrie, you have to read this!”, the first thing I did was roll my eyes at her. Yet another fairytale retelling. Yawn. But since she’s my best friend, I read Cinder, expecting the worst.
Once again I learned that you can’t judge a novel by its premise.
Cinder, the first book in the Lunar Chronicles, was not at all what I expected. Set in the distant future and told from the point of view of a cyborg mechanic, there was no way I could have predicted that. I couldn’t even predict the ending, like I usually can with fairytale retellings. So what makes Cinder stand out from the crowd so much?
Well, the first thing is the fantastic world-building. Marissa Meyer has obviously thought this world where cyborgs are second-class citizens and the plague is rampant through very well. The level of detail she goes into, her descriptions of otherworldly technology and her avoidance of all the worst science fiction clichés…I could go on and on. So let me summarize her world-building thus: if there are any aspiring novelists out there that need to know how to world build, you need to read this book.
As for the plot, wow. Being a retelling of Cinderella, it had the handsome prince, evil stepmother and royal ball, but that’s where the similarities end. And even with those similarities, Marissa Meyer has added her own science fiction twist. Sometimes pre-determined plot markers spook the author and they ruin the character development completely by focusing on the plot instead of the characters. Yet this is absolutely not the case in Cinder. Cinder herself is believable, Prince Kai has many different sides and even the ‘wicked stepmother’ has reasons for being wicked.
If you’re looking for some new science fiction or even an unconventional love story, I would recommend you pick up Cinder. Like me, you won’t regret it and you’ll be clambering for the next book, Scarlet, which is where Cinder gets to meet Little Red Riding Hood. Alas, Scarlet won’t be out until February 5, 2013.
I give this book 5/5 stars.