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.
I didn’t know what to expect from Cinder. It’s certainly very unique – the idea of a futuristic Cinderella as a cyborg! I enjoyed it for the most part but felt at times that there was something lacking.
Cinder is set in New Beijing, after the 4th World War. For me there wasn’t enough background or world building for me to grasp what New Beijing was like. There was hardly any mention of anything remotely Far Eastern which is the part of the world I assumed the book was set given the city name. From the lack of description, cultural information, customs etc it could have been set anywhere. I guess I expected a bit more of an oriental feel to things.
This book has all the elements of the fairy story we know so well; the evil stepmother, the two sisters – although one of them is lovely and a real friend to Cinder, and of course, the handsome prince. Although in this story there is a hefty dose of a dangerous life threatening plague – Letumosis, which Cinder’s sister falls ill with and which, unbeknownst to her, Cinder will be central to the cure for.
Cinder is a skilled mechanic working in the Market place. As a cyborg she is pretty much a second class citizen and more or less lives to serve her step mother and sisters. However as the story progresses we see that in fact she may have a far greater purpose than she could ever have imagined.
As it’s based on a well known fairy tale it does mean the story is fairly predictable, however I think there is a great potential for Cinder’s story – as ‘Cinder’ is the first in a series of The Lunar Chronicles. I liked Prince Kai and I’m intruiged by the dangerous Lunar people and their deadly but interesting skill of being able to ‘glamour’ the people and hide their true selves. The book improved as I read it and I much preferred the last third or so, when I felt it started to get going a bit.
While it’s certainly not in the category of, say, The Hunger Games, it has good potential and I will buy the next book in the series to find out what happens to Cinder as there are a lot of loose ends left to tie up.
Verdict: A largely enjoyable read, a bit slow to get going but good potential as a series. I look forward to the second instalment
Reviewed by Lesley