In this futuristic re-telling of the classic fairy tale, Cinderella, Cinder is a dirty, greasy mechanic who lives with her stepmother and two stepsisters, while working endlessly to pay their bills. She is also a cyborg. Hold on. A cyborg? This is definitely not something I would normally pick up, but I heard so many good things about this book that I had to give it a try.
I'm a big fan of Cinderella and the Terminator series including the Sarah Connor Chronicles. I loved seeing a female terminator. How anyone could think to mix aspects of the two together and create a unique story is beyond me, but it works!
Prince Kai meets Cinder when he brings his defective android to her to have it fixed. Prince Kai is friendly, likable and treats Cinder with respect despite her filthy appearance, grease smudges and all. He doesn't see a beautiful woman in a fancy ball gown and doesn't fall instantly in love. He sees an intelligent, flawed, person and takes the time to befriend her. I found that refreshing.
The story takes place on earth in New Beijing after World War IV. There is a plague spreading and no known cure. An evil Lunar Queen has her sights set on marrying the Prince and becoming an Empress. Where do cyborgs fit into all of this? With the scientific breakthroughs of the future, people can be saved by replacing their body parts with those of machines.
Cinder was in a terrible accident when she was young. Her body was severely damaged but she was able to survive when doctors replaced her leg, hand and various internal organs with prosthetic parts. She is now nearly half machine, making her a cyborg. Cyborgs are shunned and looked down on and Cinder's fear is that Prince Kai will find out that she is one of them and become absolutely repulsed by her.
I enjoyed finding the subtle and not so subtle parallels between the original Cinderella tales and this one. I'll leave my thoughts on them out of this review to keep things spoiler free, but half the fun of reading this book was finding those little gems. Be prepared for the cliff hanger ending. You will be left with many unanswered questions because Cinder is only the first book of the Lunar Chronicles.
I liked that the story moved along quickly and never gave me a chance to get bored. Despite a certain important plot point that was fairly easy to guess early on, there were many other surprises and unexpected twists and turns.
Overall, I loved this book. There were some flaws but this story was so creative, so unique and charming that I could easily overlook them.