I had been seeing the book cover for Cinder for several weeks before I was able to snag a digital advance readers copy. You know I love a good book cover and this one was very intriguing. Marissa Meyer’s Cinder is Book #1 in her new Lunar Chronicles series and it’s one of the most original takes on a fairy tale that I’ve seen. Although it’s a young adult novel, this one is going to appeal to science fiction fans of all ages.
Earth in this dystopian future still retains technology. The moon has long been settled to mine its ore and has developed into its own sovereign nation, ruled by Queen Levana. Lunars have evolved and have psychic-like abilities not found on Earth.
Cinder lives with her stepmother and two sisters in New Beijing on Earth, where she works as a mechanic to support her family. Cinder is one of those people who just has an innate talent for fixing things. The only problem is that Cinder isn’t considered a person; she’s a cyborg. And cyborgs are shunned and mistrusted by most people, and are basically second class citizens with no rights. It’s not as bad as being an android but it’s still bad.
“Cinder was the only full-service mechanic at New Beijing’s weekly market. Without a sign, her booth hinted at her trade only by the shelves of stock android parts that crowded the walls. It was squeezed into a shady cove between a used NetScreen dealer and a silk merchant, both of whom frequently complained about the tangy smell of metal and grease that came from Cinder’s booth,…Cinder knew they really just didn’t like being next to her.”
She doesn’t recall anything about who she was before her accident. She doesn’t even recall the accident unless that’s what she dreams about in her nightmares. She just knows she woke up with one mechanical arm and one mechanical leg to replace the ones she lost, and she has some kind of brain implant that augments her vision and gives her the ability to tell when people are lying.
Cinder’s life was easier before her inventor stepfather, Garan, died, because he was very kind to her. Her younger stepsister, Peony, is a very sweet girl and has always been kind to her too. Peony is her only human friend. Her older stepsister, Pearl, is just like her stepmother, Adri, who despises Cinder. The closest thing Cinder has to a cyborg friend is an old android, Iko, who is an outdated hunk-o-junk with a quirky sense of humor.
“’It’s going to be a bundle of fun,’ said Iko, scanning the makeshift bracelet with her sensor again and again.
‘Really?’ said Peony. ‘Can I come?’
Cinder laughed. ‘She’s kidding. Iko’s been practicing her sarcasm.’”
A horrible plague has struck New Beijing, including the king. The plague’s progression is fast once the disease shows up on a person’s skin and there is no known cure. Cyborgs are being drafted to test for a cure and everyone knows it’s a death sentence to be drafted or to be volunteered by one’s guardian. When Peony is stricken with the disease just days before Prince Kai is to host a ball, Cinder’s stepmother blames Cinder and, in the ultimate betrayal, volunteers her to test the new vaccine. And that’s as far as I’m going to take this synopsis because taking it any further would give away too many spoilers.
“Legally, Cinder belonged to Adri as much as the household android and so too did her [Cinder’s] money, her few possessions, even the new foot she’d just attached. Adri loved to remind her of that.”
If you’re looking for a Cinder(ella) who sees herself as a victim then you’ll need to look elsewhere. Cinder recognizes the family dynamics she lives with in a realistic way but she is remarkably mature and determined to persevere so she can make the most of her life. This is no wilting violet by any means, and that quality alone made me her biggest cheerleader. She is determined to keep Iko safe and to save Peony if possible.
Of course Cinder meets the prince – this is a futuristic version of a classic fairy tale after all – but how and the political intrigue involved afterward is very unique, so you’ll just have to read this novel to find out cause I’m not telling. I am now anxiously awaiting Book #2 to see where Marissa Meyer takes this adventure, as you will be also once you read Cinder.
Here’s a free chapter from a prequel to Cinder, Glitches, that you can read online. Thanks to Tor Publishing for providing this link.
Cinder will be released on January 3, 2012, but it should be available for pre-order at your favorite bookseller below. Just click on the button and go there to get it.
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