Book Review: Cinder

CinderCinderella goes steampunk. It’s a sexy concept, and from the cover you might expect some kind of femme fatale Cinderella who can punch out baddies in a single blow without missing a step in the waltz. Marissa Meyer’s imagining, however, is far more human.

Cinder is a cyborg in a futuristic Earth where the human race is served by machines and cyborgs are feared and revolted. Cinder is entirely the legal property of her stepmother, Linh Adri. She is also the best mechanic in New Beijing – so much so that Prince Kai, royal heart-throb, seeks her services. As she is drawn further into Prince Kai’s world Cinder is desperate to keep her “deformity” hidden.

Prince Kai’s problems are far greater – he is struggling to maintain peace with the race of Lunars that inhabit the Moon, and to find a cure for letumosis, the plague-like disease ravaging Earth.

Sound complicated? Cinder does feel overloaded with plot at times and sophisticated readers will see, like a cyborg’s parts, the mechanics at work.

What saves Cinder is the strength of its characters. Cinder’s struggle to accept herself and her efforts to carve a space in the world for the people (and androids) she loves is easily relatable. Iko, the WALL-E-esque sidekick, provides heart as well as comic relief. And it’s a pleasure to see Adri given more depth and nuance than most stepmother tropes.

Cinder is an easy and enjoyable read. It’s Meyer’s debut novel and the first in The Lunar Chronicles – with three subsequent titles already slated for release,┬áthe future looks promising.

Penguin: Read an extract.

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