Paperback, 390 pages
Published January 5th 2012 by Puffin
Description via Goodreads:
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 thanks go to Puffin for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
After all of the hype that Cinder has received in the past couple of months, I was so happy to finally have a copy in my hands! I loved both the cover and the premise and, thankfully, it certainly lived up to my expectations. This is a retelling of the classic Cinderella, and it is very loosely based around the idea with some parallels. The book starts with a quote from the original version, but we can tell that this is a very different setting and story from the first paragraph.
This story is set in New Beijing, which I thought was original and effective. Often a lot of Young Adult books are set in America or England, so this was a refreshing change. It was interesting to have a story set in a very different cultural background and to see the different aspects of society. We are also introduced to the Lunars - a very interesting society, based on the moon and led by the power-hungry Queen Levana, who is very hostile towards the Earthen. There was also some mentions of 'Princess Winter' of Luna, who I believe we will be seeing in the last novel of this series - and I can't wait!
Cinder, as our main character, was fantastic. I really loved reading about her and she was fantastically formed. Cinder is a cyborg and a mechanic. She is not a 'girly girl' - most of the time she is walking around in her combat trousers which are covered in oil and grease. She is certainly her own person, with a strong determined personality which isn't easily swayed by others. She had a very real attitude, which is what I loved about her.
Of course, she had an evil stepmother called Adri and whom I really disliked, but liked as a villain - she was cruel and spiteful. I actually didn't mind one of her step-sisters, Peony, as their relationship did change and was quite sentimental at points. However, her other was a great reflection of her mother, with a very cruel streak to her.
Prince Kai was our second prominent character in this novel, and I can see why he had such a fan base! From the very first encounter we had with him, he was a likeable character. He didn't give much away and he was very intriguing. Although he is a handsome prince, Kai is not perfect and this is why he is so loveable. He is realistic in his emotions - he gets scared, but he also has confidence and can be brave. The romance between Cinder and Prince Kai was not instant, but the chemistry built throughout the book, which I really enjoyed. There was also quite some subtle humour thrown in by Kai, which lightened the tone of the story.
The whole sci-fi aspect of this book was fascinating. There were some great descriptions of mechanics, especially when considering androids - robots which worked with and around the people of New Beijing. Iko, Cinder's android, confidante and friend was very fun to read about and it was surprisingly easy to build an emotional connection to her, even if she was completely made of metal. A lot of morality issues are discussed in this book and a lot of questions regard personality versus body or shell. Cyborgs and androids are classed as second class citizens in this new world. Cinder discovers more about herself as the novel progresses and faces a lot of internal battles.
There was, somewhat, a sense of mystery to this novel, but unfortunately I found it to be quite predictable and knew what the outcome was going to be around the first quarter of this novel. However, it was still interesting to see how things unfolded and how facts were brought together. The ending was quite a cliffhanger which was disappointing to me as things weren't completely resolved. It's not very clear whether this will be resolved in the next novel, as I believe it focuses on a different character, but I'd like to hope there will be some sort of closure to the story.
Overall, whilst this novel wasn't completely perfect, it was interesting and engaging. I loved the idea of it and thought that the execution was well done. I never thought that a book that was so heavily based around androids and cyborgs would capture my attention as well as this one did. With it's feisty heroine, atypical romance and fantastic idea, this is a book that I'd certainly recommend. I can not wait to read the next instalment to see what Meyer has to offer us next!