Cinder by Marissa Meyer. Square Fish, 2012. 387 pages. Age/interest level: 14-up.
Linh Cinder is a teenage mechanic, the best mechanic in New Beijing. She is also a cyborg, part of her limbs robotic due to a childhood accident. Early in the story, Cinder meets Prince Kai, heir apparent of New Beijing. Kai needs a mechanic and is intrigued by Cinder’s no-nonsense personality. Romance could seem predictable, but there is much more to this futuristic fairytale.
Although the streets of New Beijing are bustling, a deadly plague is spreading. World peace and security are threatened by the machinations of Levana, the Lunar Queen. (Civilization has reached the moon and a new race of people has developed.) Cinder is unwillingly swept into this conflict and finds herself increasingly deep in a tangle of mysterious intrigue.
The setting is great. East meets west in a swarming, muggy, futuristic city where hovers have replaced cars, and people rub shoulders with androids. Star Wars has come to life though there is no ‘force’ here. While temples are mentioned, religion is not. Still, characters maintain a moral standard. This is no Hunger Games with undefined principles. Themes of loyalty, patriotism and selflessness pervade the story and serve to make it stronger.
Cinder is intended for teens, and several sexual references and one mild curse make it inappropriate for voracious middle-grade readers. Given the increasing sensuality of YA fiction, Cinder serves as a refreshing change. Marissa Meyer is storyteller enough to rely on plot and character development to engage readers, and discerning readers will appreciate the allusions, hints, and nods throughout Cinder to other fairytales.
Lovers of fantasy, science fiction, and dystopia will certainly enjoy this intriguing retelling of Cinderella. Since it is the first book in The Lunar Chronicles, Cinder ends on a note that will leave many readers hurrying to get the second book in the series. With the final book still to be published, Redeemed Reader cannot implicitly recommend the series. That said, if the The Lunar Chronicles continue as Cinder began, it will be a series worth reading.
Worldview/Moral Value 3.5 (out of 5)
Literary/Artistic Value 4 (out of 5)