Cinder - Marissa Meyer
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.
My Review: 5/5*
I had very high expectations of this book considering all of the amazing reviews about it, and I will admit, once I started reading it I was a little worried that it was all hyped up for nothing. This lasted for the entirety of a chapter. Once that first chapter was out of the way I felt so relieved as I started to fall in love with this brilliant book! The first thing that drew me to this book was the adaptation of the classic fairy tale, Cinderella. I absolutely love any sort of adaptations of classical literature, especially fairy tales! (I'm currently reading Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber & Other Stories - seriously recommend if you want some absurd adaptations!) Ms. Meyer succeeds in completely blowing my mind with this wholly original take on the original story.
We are immediately confronted with Cinder, our protagonist, running a mechanic booth in the market of New Beijing. We instantly learn a few things about her, she's unhappy, she is a cyborg and her best friend is the adorable android, Iko. She is the stepdaughter of a ruthless, and judgmental Adri, and stepsister to Pearl and Peony. If there were any two characters which juxtapose each other at such extreme levels it is the two sisters. Unlike the original, Cinder has one 'good' sister, and one 'bad' sister. Peony is kind, loving, an absolute girly-girl at heart and treats Cinder as if she was 'one of them' i.e. not part cyborg. Pearl is the complete opposite. Selfish, spiteful, spoilt and cruel, she lives to make Cinder's life a living hell. She is concerned only with events which affect her or her 'true' family and is keen to avoid any association with someone as 'unnatural as Cinder.
Back to the market booth, it is here that Cinder (and us!) are first introduced to the figure of Prince Kai. I. Loved. Him. It has been awhile since I have felt a strong connection with a male character within a book. They're usually a semi-developed love interest but Ms. Meyer treats this differently. We are given insight into the frighteningly fast death of his father due to the contagious, incurable plague which is spreading through the city. He is full of emotion, empathy and is in awful turmoil as he tries to escape having to get engaged to the Lunar queen, Levana. This potential engagement is all brought on due to the craving of power that the queen has and is attempting to threaten the Prince with the option of war or marriage in order for her to sign the peace treaty between Lunar and the Commonwealth.
The concept of Lunars I found incredibly fascinating. They are beings which live on the moon and have the power to manipulate the appearances which they output (unless they KNOW what they themselves look like - hence the fear of mirrors) and have the ability to manipulate the actions of all of those around them. They are feared and hated on Earth, with the people having no desire to unite with them. The cold, calculating, murderous Queen Levana is known to have killed her only potential successor in order to obtain the throne - but rumors are ripe as to whether this is true, or to whether the young Princess Selena escaped the house fire many years ago.
I loved this book. It was amazing and I am so glad that it lived up to its hype. Even though I figured out the twist in this book fairly early on I still loved discovering how it would all unfold. I'm currently reading Scarlet and cannot wait to find out what happens next! Much too scared to check the release date of the next book, however. I hate to think how far away it is!