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Cinder is a cyborg living in New Beijing with her evil guardian (read: adoptive mother) and two adoptive sisters. She single-handedly supports the family by working as a mechanic in the local market. One day, she looks up and finds young, handsome Prince Kai in her booth. He asks her to fix a broken android for him and engages in some pretty harmless flirting.
That night, Cinder’s life takes a turn for the worse. Her beloved younger sister, Peony, is diagnosed with an incurable plague. Her guardian blames Cinder and starts making life much, much harder.
Prince Kai is having a hard time himself. The Lunar Queen has decided that she is going to marry him or start a war. Kai genuinely cares about his people and would do almost anything to protect them, but he just can’t bring himself to agree to marry the evil queen. She invites herself to his palace, where he gets to see what a ruthless ruler she really is.
I had my reservations about this. I love me a retold fairy tale, don’t get me wrong. But it’s all science-fictiony. Cyborgs? Androids? Not my thing. And then it’s set in a future that sounds a little post-apocalyptic? Definitely not my thing. And yet, searching around for something mildly dystopian to read for a reading challenge, this is what I chose. That cover. The rave reviews. It’s worth a shot, right?
Absolutely. Yay! I pretty much loved it!
Cinder had me from the beginning. She’s so self-reliant but she doesn’t hate people. Give me an evil stepmother and make me do all the work to support her lazy ass? I would hate everybody. Cinder loves her younger sister and even the family android, who was very spunky and cute, I must admit. She tries so hard to forget about Prince Kai and not be all fan-girly like the rest of the country, but she just can’t get him out of her head. She faces everything that is thrown at her without a whole lot of resentment; she just tries to do what she can to get through it. She could easily have been a whiny teen and I wouldn’t have blamed her, but I wouldn’t have liked the book either. She rocked.
Prince Kai. We came so, so close to a lasting character crush. It’s there, don’t get me wrong, but he isn’t way up in my top tier. He had the perfect opportunity but he just didn’t do what I wanted him to do. He took the high road and did what was best for his country. I should love him for that, shouldn’t I? No. I wanted the gigantic gesture for the girl that he is on his way to loving. Screw the millions of other people in the country. I’m only being slightly sarcastic. He was great though. Funny, smart, approachable, and accessible. He seems to be wise beyond his years, but he could be a snarky teen too. I kept picturing him as Disney’s Aladdin for some reason. Maybe because he first shows up in a market? That didn’t help the crush-o-meter any.
There’s enough of the original fairy tale here to be recognizable, but it is very much it’s own story. My poor husband had no idea what I was reading.
“Hey. You know that Cinderella-cyborg book I’m listening to? You won’t believe what just happened in it.”
“The Cinderella-cyborg book.” Duh.
“Oh, come on. I’ve told you all about it. You know, the prince’s android is broken and she’s a cyborg and she’s fixing it and there’s this plague–“
“Suresuresure. What about it?”
“We-ell,” and off I would go. Poor thing. He heard all about it and he never did understand what I was talking about. He’s so good about humoring me.
Reading it, it all makes sense. Cinderella as a cyborg? Abso-freaking-lutely. She kicks ass.
There were a few times when I wondered if it was supposed to be quite so obvious where things were headed, but then a big twist that I didn’t see coming would throw me off. I was right about the big things but a lot of the details were surprising. I’m very happy about that.
I was not happy with the ending. It just sort of stops! I hate that! Good thing the next book, Scarlet, comes out today!
The narrator, Rebecca Soler, did a great job. She sounds young enough to match the part and she didn’t hesitate to reflect Cinder’s emotions.
If I haven’t confused you past the point of no return, read this. It’s a good story that transcends whatever genres we might try to fit it into.
If you liked Cinder, you might also like my reviews of
- Geekerella (Once upon a Con #1) by Ashley Poston
- Heart of Iron (Heart of Iron #1) by Ashley Poston
- Santa Olivia (Santa Olivia #1) by Jacqueline Carey
Buy Cinder from Malaprop’s Bookstore in beautiful Asheville, NC or