Raise your hand if you’re years behind the curve and have only just gotten to the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer? *Raises hand*
I buddy-read Cinder with one of my Goodreads groups back in July and I actually burned through it way quicker than I should have and skipped ahead of the rest of the group. Sorry guys! But it’s a really great read if you love fairy tale retellings with a twist. Sci-fi isn’t usually my first choice, but I enjoyed this fresh take on a much-loved classic.
TL;DR Cinder, a cyborg, lives in New Beijing and works on a market stall as a mechanic. One day, the prince drops by with an android he needs her to take a look at, but a plague breakout shuts down the market. Cinder’s evil step-mother sells her to a medical study which is testing the plague on cyborgs and looking for a cure. There she discovers the truth about herself and the moon-residing beings called Lunars…
Cinder is set in a futuristic, fantasy version of China, and the Moon is now home to a colony of humanoid creatures called Lunars who possess the ability to manipulate Earthans. A deadly plague has killed thousands of people, and a medical study has been set up to test potential cures on cyborgs – people who are part human, part robot.
“I’m sure I’ll feel much more grateful when I find a guy who thinks complex wiring in a girl is a turn-on.”
As a cyborg, Cinder is treated like a second class citizen, not least by her step-mother, Adri, who blames her for the death of her father years earlier. After an outbreak of plague at a nearby stall forces Cinder to flee the market, and her sweet but spoilt step-sister Peony falls ill, Adri sells Cinder to the medical study out of spite. Desperate to help save her sister’s life, Cinder goes willingly and works with the doctors to discover why she didn’t become infected, but was able to pass the disease on to Peony.
“Imagine there was a cure, but finding it would cost you everything. It would completely ruin your life. What would you do?”
In the meantime, Cinder keeps bumping into the handsome and charming Prince Kai, whose android needs fixing after crashing in possession of an important message. Unfortunately, she’s a little busy being a test subject and trying to hide the fact she’s a cyborg from him to actually fix the robot. That is, until the Lunar Queen decides to make a rare visit to Earth, and specifically to New Beijing, to talk potential marriage plans with the King.
“Prince Kai! Check my fan, I think I’m overheating.”
And, what would any Cinderella retelling be without a ball? Prince Kai convinces Cinder to join him at the ball thrown in honour of the Lunar delegation’s visit, but with no dress and an old, ill-fitting robot foot, how can she possibly accompany the most eligible bachelor in the whole of the Eastern Commonwealth to the biggest party in decades?
“She was a cyborg, and she would never go to a ball.”
As fairy tale retellings go, Cinder is an incredibly inventive and fresh take on an old classic. There are just enough familiar elements to keep it in line with the original, and plenty of new twists to make it a fun read for fairy tale fans (the robot foot instead of a glass slipper is a cool update!).
I gave Cinder 3.5 stars, because whilst I enjoyed it I wasn’t gripped like I hoped. Usually fairy tale retellings are my jam, but sci-fi isn’t, so I didn’t love this one as much as I wanted to. I still plan to carry on reading the rest of the series as that cliffhanger ending was a killer! And I’m hoping to enjoy each book more and more as I get accustomed to the sci-fi elements and get more invested in the characters.
Have you read the Lunar Chronicles? Did you instantly love them, or does the series get better with each book? I’m hoping to read Scarlet next year at some point, once my raging TBR starts to dwindle. Maybe I’ll love another protagonist better, I’m not sure what it was about Cinder that just didn’t click with me, so maybe me and Scarlet will get along better!