To say that I loved this book would be an understatement. As a rule, I adore fairy tale retellings. I also love dystopian settings. Combining the story of Cinderella with a dystopian theme = win! Cinder is the kind of novel that really ticks my boxes. I mean, a cyborg Cinderella – it is absolute genius. Yet Cinder is more than just a fantastic premise. There is a lot of surprising depth to this book and I was really moved by Cinder and her unfortunate plight.
Cinder is a mechanic living in New Beijing – the capital city of the Eastern Commonwealth, along with her stepmother and two stepsisters. Cinder is viewed as a second-class citizen as she is part cyborg, she has a cybernetic hand and foot and most of her internal wiring is made up of machine parts. Having been in some kind of an accident when she was much younger, Cinder has no memories of her younger days. She was adopted by the Linh family when she was around 12 years old.
After the death of her benefactor Linh Garan, her stepmother put Cinder to work, eking out a living in the marketplace. It is through working in the marketplace that Cinder meets Prince Kai, and this meeting sets off a chain of events which will change Cinder’s life forever…
Cinder was a truly fantastic novel. I have read a lot of YA novels over the last couple of years and I must say that Cinder was certainly one of the most innovative stories I have had the pleasure of reading. It put a very interesting spin on the classic Cinderella story and although parts of the story were influenced by the classic fairy tale, it also managed to be new and refreshing at the same time which I was not expecting at all.
Linh Cinder was a very likable protagonist. Despite the fact that she was part android she felt very real and very human to me. I related to her, I was moved by her circumstances, and I was desperate to find out the mystery behind her forgotten past. I also adored Iko her faithful robot companion!
Prince Kai seemed a little stiff at the beginning of the book but as the story progressed he became a fully formed, three-dimensional character with flaws and quirks enough to make him interesting to me. The Prince character in the Cinderella tale has always fallen a little flat to me, all surface charm and no depth, but Kai was a likable character in his own right and I enjoyed the chapters which gave real insight into his character.
The over-arching story was also exciting. A futuristic China setting, a deadly plague that is sweeping the nation, and a seemingly all-powerful enemy waiting in the wings, all combined to make this story have a real sense of danger lurking behind the traditional Cinderella story. Queen Levana, the leader of the moon colony Luna, made a very interesting villain – one which I am looking forward to being expanded on in the next couple of books in the series.
Overall, this was a very promising start to what looks like an amazing series. I am actually kicking myself that I didn’t get round to reading it sooner (it has been lurking around on my bookshelf) but the one benefit of this is that two of its sequels Scarlet (based on Little Red Riding Hood) and Cress (based on Rapunzel), are already out. Winter (a Snow White retelling) will not be out until next year unfortunately.