Cinder by Marissa Meyer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.
When I first heard about this book I saw the words "cyborg Cinderella" and I wasn't interested at all. I really want to thank other bloggers and reviewers for keeping on raving about how great this book is, and making me curious enough to pick it up- because it's fantastic! Reading this has made such a refreshing change for me, and I love it so much I want to urge others to read it who are cynical like I was!
Cinder is so magically written that it really manages to conjour up images of dusty streets and crowded markets, cleverly mixing the sense of an old fashioned fairytale with futuristic technology, and with an eastern flavour about it. I became completely absorbed in this beautiful writing and swept up in the excitement of the story. It is based on the fairytale Cinderella, but is also so adapted and different, as to make it seem completely new and fresh. I have heard it decribed as a futuristic steampunk sci-fi novel, and as impossible as that is to imagine, it is also a very accurate description! You cannot pigeon hole this novel into any one category!
Cinder is a smart hard-working mechanic, but because of an accident as a child she is now mostly mechanical. Her hands and her leg below the knee are artificial, and she has built in sensors and programming in her head. She can access the net, and a light in the corner of her eye alerts her when someone is lying to her. Unfortunately for her, there is a lot of prejudice against cyborgs and they are treated as second-class citizens, even to the extent of being drafted in to be used as guinea pigs to find a cure for the plagues that have swept through the world. The perfect representation of this hatred of cyborgs is Cinder's stepmother. She can't stand having her around, and is so cruel to her.
The story is set in New Beijing, after a series of wars that have devastated the world, and people are only just starting to pick up the pieces and start growing into a time of prosperity again. There are so many different threads to the story- the completely different slant on world politics, the wars on Earth, the devastating plagues, and the colonisation of the moon by a people with powers of manipulation and control. The Lunar queen is so terrifyingly evil and manipulative, and with her seeking an alliance with New Beijing with underlying threats of war if they don't comply, the royal family is in a difficult position.
Prince Kai is the kind of charming and down-to-earth prince that every girl hopes to stumble across and be swept off their feet by, and I just adored him instantly. He is just so friendly, and adorably insecure, and completely lovely. The growing attraction between him and Cinder was so sweet. The mixture of other characters really makes this story what it is. Cinder's wicked stepmother is deliciously spiteful and nasty. And the invading Lunar Queen is the epitome of evil conqueror. One of my favourite characters has to be Cinder's android assistant Iko, who has such a funny quirky personality about her. She has to hoard all sorts of odd treasures and wants to put on lipstick and talk about boys! She has a very sarcastic sense of humour for a robot! But Kai and Cinder are the stars of the story, and although I could go on and on about them, I'll instead just urge you to read the book for yourself.
I have been blown away by this fresh and magical debut novel. This has romance, mystery and intrigue, moments that make you smile, moments that make you cry, and a flawed but determined heroine. The descriptions of all the technology made it all seem very real as well. This story is so cool, and I adored these wonderful characters, and the whole world they live in. This is going to be a series, and the next book is due out in 2013. I can't wait!
Thanks to Macmillan Publishers and Netgalley for providing a copy of this book for review.
This is also available as an audiobook.
Audio Clip from the Macmillan Audio audiobook: