Over the years, I’ve read countless fairy tales and their retellings. Some retellings would be almost identical to the fairy tale itself, while others were vastly different. I can honestly say that Cinder by Marissa Meyer is the most unique retelling of Cinderella that I’ve ever read. The biggest difference is that Cinder, the heroine, isn’t even human – she’s a cyborg – and while she does have an evil step-mother, there is a deadlier villain that Cinder will have to face.
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.
Cinder was everything I love in a heroine: tough but emphatic, intelligent, loyal, and a little bit snarky. And mature. Unlike a lot of YA heroines, there was no excessive angst in Cinder. She didn’t complain, or cry about her situation. She gritted her teeth and set out to save Earth.
The secondary characters were just as well-rounded and real as Cinder was. I can’t express how much I loved the fact that Prince Kai wasn’t just a pretty face. He was real. He struggled with his new found responsibilities, with the weight of his kingdom, of doing what was right for the people versus what he wanted for himself. Most fairy tale princes don’t have to struggle with much, but his journey is nearly as important and captivating as Cinder’s.
The plot was a tad predictable – hello, Cinderella retelling. I see your plot points. However, the rest of the story was unique enough to keep those plot points feeling natural. The Lunar Chronicles has definitely become one of my all time favorite YA series. Meyers was able to seamlessly blend fairy tales and science fiction elements and create a new, unique story. Cinder is for anyone who has ever wanted a different kind story for Cinderella.
Forewarning, there is a cliffhanger at the end of Cinder. Nothing dramatic, but it’s clear that it will take more than one book for the plot to be resolved. But luckily for you, the entire series is out and very binge-able.