Series: Lunar Chronicles #1
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Date Published: January 3, 2012
Genres: Dystopian, Science Fiction
Description: 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 is definitely a unique retelling of the Cinderella fairy tale. Cinder is an orphan with no memory of who she is. She was told she was in an accident, and needed to be “repaired”, which is why she is now a cyborg. Her adoptive step-father dies of the plague and her step-mother and step-sisters are left to care for her. One of her step-sisters is her best friend, but her other step-sister and step-mother hate her. Cinder is treated as sub-human and is treated more like a servant by her step-family. Because of her upgrades, Cinder can download instructions for anything, and her abilities make her an excellent mechanic. Her reputation as a great mechanic leads Prince Kai to ask her to help repair his android. Cinder learns some secrets from the repaired android and the story unfolds from there.
We know there will be 3 more books in this series, each covering a new fairy tale, the last one being about Snow White, so it makes sense that the Lunar Queen appears to be a major player through the series. Lunars have glamour, and the Queen can control what others think of her and how she looks to others. Can we say evil Queen from Snow White? She can’t stand mirrors since they show her as she really is, and she obviously can’t control the mirror’s perception.
We’re told in the beginning of the story that the current Lunar Queen killed her extended family members in order to secure her continued position as Queen. But there are rumors that the Princess survived and is in hiding until she can claim the throne. Ok, so right away after reading that part of the book I knew what the “big reveal” in this story was going to be. Through the rest of the story it felt like I was being hit over the head with clues and it was just obvious to me. But, that didn’t make the book less enjoyable to read.
I liked the unique setting and world, and thought the characters were interesting enough while staying close to the essence of the fairy tale. Cinder was naïve and made some strange decisions at times, but it made sense based on her upbringing and the way she is treated. The paperback comes with discussion questions that we used in the Creatures of Nyght book club this past weekend, and it was really awesome how many deep conversations we had based on the issues touched upon in this book. Overall, this was an interesting read and even though it seemed obvious to me, there were still other interesting developments that contributed to the plot and gave the story an interesting flavor.