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.
— Goodreads Description
Oh. Oh wow. This was… exquisite.
Now I judge myself for being so hesitant to read this book. I’m not even sure what put me off; I hadn’t read the blurb, so it wasn’t that. It may have been the cover art, which in hindsight is absolutely beautiful and fitting. I really don’t know what it was, but this teaches me to be more open towards things I don’t know.
I hadn’t realised that this would be a retelling of Cinderella and once I did, I was a bit disappointed because why go to the trouble of retelling something instead of creating something original? I was wrong. Very very wrong. This novel is utterly beautiful and intriguing. It retells Cinderella, yes, but only to a point; it uses the fairytale only as the smallest basis for the rest of the plot. Do we have a a young girl being exploited by her step-family? Yes. Do we have a prince taking an interest in her? Yes. There’s even a ball. But this novel is so much more and I didn’t think I could love it as much as I do.
We get to learn so much about the characters — who only share some surface resemblance to the original fairytale characters, really — and I’ve had a hard time letting go of the novel while reading it. The most fascinating part about the book however is that it’s set in a future where cyborgs and androids are a normal part of life and just how life plays out for them. Aside from the main plot, I really enjoyed that the story shifted common prejudices and bigotry from different groups of humans to cyborgs and robots and shows just how ridiculous it is to carry those prejudices with us. Cinder is just a lesser being to society, even though she has feelings like any other person. It’s fascinating to see what a difference organic vs. artificial body parts can make to society and just how pre-occupied society is with that difference. I’m sure many readers would agree that Cinder is no less of a person just because she is a cyborg — in fact, I envy her technological interfaces and some of the abilities that being a cyborg has given her. The same goes for androids, especially ones like Iko, who captured my heart the second she first appeared.
Another thing I really adored and was overjoyed for was the setting. Most YA literature is set in the Western culture and while that is all nice and dandy, Cinder is an utterly refreshing read; it’s not just the plot or the characters that are interesting, but also Eastern culture mixed with futuristic technology and a glimpse into what the future could look like.
The writing was at times predictable, but I think that was due more to the original fairytale plot than bad plotting. Marissa Meyer has written a novel with a convincing outlook on future society and her world-building is amazing. It’s been so much fun to figure out some of the words that I couldn’t make sense of right away and the aha moment that comes with realising what thaumaturge or magbelt mean is lovely.
All my love for this novel, I am overwhelmed by how much I like it when I was prepared to do the opposite. And now on to Scarlet!