This was a book that I passed over several times before I sat down to actually read it. I would see the interesting cover and be drawn in by the fact that it was a fairy tale adaptation, which I love, and then be dissuaded by the fact that it was science fiction. I didn’t see myself wanting to read about cyborgs and androids. Boy, was I wrong.
I absolutely adored this book. Meyer has truly come up with a wholly original version of Cinderella. I loved the little nods that she gave to the original tale with the prince and an old orange car, Cinder’s version of the pumpkin, while still fully fleshing out an entertaining and original story.
Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, is a fantastic female lead. She is confident in her work as a New Beijing’s most skilled mechanic, just the right amount of snarky, and a strong young woman. However, she still has insecurities and self-doubt, that make her character believable. She is a very interesting narrator as she struggles with being a second-class citizen as a cyborg and not being a real part of her adopted family.
I appreciated that, when Cinder met Prince Kaito, she was obviously interested in him, but didn’t become obsessed and completely taken over by her epic love for him. She finds him very charming, but also intimidating and off limits; as he is royalty and she’s a cyborg. Kai, as he’s called, really is a swoon-worthy love interest. He is sweet and funny around Cinder and almost bashful in his interest with her. We see that, although is the crown prince, he has his insecurities. He pursues her without ever turning into a sociopath stalker that must have her at all costs. Their interactions will leave you rooting for them to get together, in spite of the obstacles.
All of the secondary characters are well written and dynamic. The wicked stepmother, Adri, is appropriately hateful and the Lunar Queen, Levana, is evil enough to be an excellent antagonist. Iko the android, and possibly Cinder’s closest friend, is really amusing and is a nice contrast to Cinder’s dry humor.
What really took this story past the point of being just a sci-fi Cinderella to a fantastic story in its own right is the plague storyline. You get to experience the pandemic that is ravaging the world through someone close to Cinder, drawing you in to the horror of what is really going on. I loved the concept that this is a futuristic world, with advanced technologies, but it is still not squeaky clean and perfect. There is still disease and grit and fear.
The ending will leave you completely ready to dive in to Scarlet. I’m just sad it will be so long before Cress and Winter come out. This really is a fantastic series that I would recommend to anyone. You won’t feel like you wasted your time on a single page you read.