- Title: Cinder: Book One in the Lunar Chronicles
- Classification: Young Adult (Ages 12 and up)
- Genre: Science Fiction / Fairy Tale Remake
- Format: Hardcover, 400 pages
- Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (January 3, 2012)
- ISBN-10: 0312641893
- ISBN-13: 978-0312641894
- Author's Website: http://marissameyer.livejournal.com/
Once upon a time in an alternate fairy tale reality there lived a cyborg named Cinder. Many years ago her family was in an accident and she was the only one to survive. She lost more than just her family that day, she lost a foot and hand, but luckily, unlike the story of that poor Humpty Dumpty, Cinder was merged with machine and made whole again. Then a kind man adopted her. Unfortunately, fate was not nearly done with poor Cinder and bad luck once again befell the poor child when her adoptive father died of a quick killing disease called Letumosis (aka the plague). Now her lot in life is uncertain. She lives with her two stepsisters and a stepmother who doesn't understand why her husband would have adopted a cyborg. Some do not consider cyborgs human and her stepmother is one of them.
The kingdom of New Beijing is in turmoil at the moment. The King is one of the plague's latest victims. Prince Kai is attempting to maneuver the difficult and dangerous waters of the political arena without the political guidance of his father. Queen Levana of Luna is putting pressure on Kai to marry her, but Kai is aware that her political agenda and his do not coincide. She may not be the best of allies, but he knows it would be a grave mistake to have her as an enemy, so he needs to proceed with caution where she is concerned or all could be lost.
No one would have suspected that Cinder might be the key to saving both Kai and the kingdom.
Lately, I've been finding I like my fairy tale remakes to be a little more subtle when it comes to linking them with the original version of the tale. There are just so many out there and let's face it, after a while hearing the same story over and over again in slightly different way can get a little boring. In the case of Cinder, however, I'm finding I truly like the twists Ms. Meyer put into her version because I keep wondering how closely she's going to stick to the original. I read this book with my Goodreads group and there is a debate going on about whether or not a 'Fairy Godmother' will or has come into play in this version. I think Ms. Meyer is taking a line out of one of a Cheetah Girl's song about Cinderella where Cinder would rather rescue herself, while others feel another character (and yes there is controversy over which one) is/will act in that role. I personally think people expect a fairy godmother to be in Cinderella so therefore see what isn't there. I guess you'll have to be the judge of that yourself. I find the controversy makes the book that much more fun and interesting to read and makes me want to read the sequel that much more to see who's right. Right now it looks like I'm in the minority.
Cinder is a smart, strong, and a thoroughly manipulated character. Not old enough to live on her own, she's under her stepmother's thumb. All the money she earns as a mechanic goes to her stepmother so even if she were to run away she has no means to immediately support herself. As most people don't see cyborgs as people, there is always the threat that her stepmother, as her legal guardian, could decide to trade her in for the money that is being offered to families whose cyborg children 'volunteer' to act as test subjects for a new vaccine and/or cure.
Prince Kai is handsome, smart and attempting to avoid being manipulated into something he doesn't want--namely a marriage to Queen Levana. He's also concerned about his father who is suffering from an illness which at present has no cure. Under stress and feeling like the weight of the world is upon his shoulders he meets Cinder and the two hit it off.
There is only one very minor issue I had with this version of Cinderella and that is the use of the term 'step'. Would Cinder's stepmother and stepsisters truly be considered 'steps' if she was adopted by the husband/father of the trio? If only her adopted father, Garan, adopted her without his wife would that make Ari her stepmother? I'm unsure. It sounded like Peony and Pearl were Garan's biological children, but maybe I'm wrong?
I truly enjoyed this rendition of Cinderella and look forward to reading the sequel which looks like it might deviate away from the original fairy tale and write its own path to what I assume will be a similar, if not the same, outcome. The addition of Queen Levana to the tale had me wondering if Ms. Meyer was attempting to mix in a touch of another fairy tale, namely 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs'. Levana, who is allegedly a very beautiful character, for whatever reason reminded me of the evil queen who used to admire herself in a mirror. Granted Queen Levana wouldn't go near a mirror (there is some sort of glamour involved), but there is something that I can't quite put my finger upon, perhaps her personality, that just brought the evil Snow White Queen character to mind. Overall I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. Ms. Meyer was able to add a new twist to an old favorite and so far I'm enjoying the tale.