I heart everything about this story. I'm intrigued that it touches on society's prejudice and treatment of marginalized people (in this case human cyborgs). I enjoy how the narrative parallels a fairytale (Cinderella, obvs.) but not to the point of being cheesy or forced. And I loved how this story started as the author musing "What if CInderella didn't just leave her shoe of the steps of the palace? What is she left her whole foot?"
The character of Cinder, herself, is possibly the biggest draw for me. I always enjoy when the author develops a protagonists self-awareness and inner strength through the course of the story. I think that offers a wonderful and empowering message to readers. This theme runs through many of my favorite heroes from Jane Eyre's titular character to Hunger Games's Katniss to Mare in Red Queen. Some authors, however, seem to create characters that start out as impossibly weak and unbelievably meek. These shrinking violets seem to find their power only after they are paired with a dreamy (and sometimes vampiric) guy with shades of obsessive stalker.
Hey, I'm all for a love story, but I internally cringe when the besotted heroine, pining for her man, questions "why is he even with me? He's so (insert shallow attribute here), what could he possibly see in me? Omigod I can't live without him!" No, girl.
Well, Cinder is not that girl. She is believably flawed, without being whiney. She is a competent and sarcastic, and most of all- relatable. She is also one of the best mechanics in town... annnnd a cyborg. I mean, she's not all "We are the Borg. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile." She just has a mechanical leg and hand and a computer brain interface that is kind of like permeant Google Glass. She is owned by her "evil stepmother" and is forced to work for the family as little more than a slave.
There is a prince, and- of course- a ball, and even a subtle nod to a pumpkin coach. Cinder's fairy godmother, however, isn't a wand wielding frumpy fairy, he is a enigmatic research doctor who dares to connect Cinder to her mysterious past.
The story takes places on a future Earth. Lunar colonization, generations before, has led to a split in human evolution. The so-called Lunars have the ability to control the thoughts and actions of those around them by manipulating.... er.... something about bio-electricity, I don't know. Because of this, they are seen as ruthless and manipulative and are not trusted by those living on Earth. The negative stereotype of the lunar people is embodied by their wicked ruler, Queen Levana. Levana is, in fact, so grasping and power-hungry that she has even killed off every threat to her claim to the throne, including, her older sister and infant niece. Now, Queen Levana sets her sights on Earth and will stop at nothing to rule it.
Meyer weaves the interplanetary political element seamlessly into the fabric of the familiar fairytale. I can't wait to read the rest of the Lunar Chronicles! Also, as a note, this one is a great recommendation for younger fans of YA. The language is pretty safe and the violence is minimal. The plot is engaging and the characters are dynamic and interesting. All in all, I highly recommend this book!
Meyer, M. (2012). Cinder. New York: Feiwel and Friends.