Saturday, 15 March 2014

Cinder, by Marissa Meyer

Cinder both is and isn’t what it appears to be: a clever retelling of the Cinderella fairytale. We all know the basics: orphaned girl in indentured servitude to wicked stepmother who, after a visit from her fairy godmother, sneaks out to the Royal Ball, at which the handsome prince falls in love with her. Cinder has all of these essential elements, but also has a lot more: bigger enemies than just the wicked stepmother, wolves in sheeps’ clothing, political upheaval, a deadly plague, and no guarantee of a happily ever after.

This is New Beijing and Cinder is not your average girl. Part human, part android, master mechanic. She doesn’t remember anything from before she was eleven years old, but has been told her parents died in the same crash that caused Cinder herself such extensive injuries that only with the installation of android parts was she able to survive. This makes her a second class citizen though, and at any moment she could be called upon to become a test subject for the doctors working to find a cure for the deadly plague that’s ravaging New Beijing. So she’s just trying to get through each day as easily as possible, running her mech shop, and staying out of her stepmother’s way.

Inevitably, though, it’s not long before events take over. First, the Prince strolls into her mech shop with a robot he needs fixing – a robot that could contain vital information for the survival of the kingdom – and then Cinder’s little sister contracts the plague and Cinder is shipped off to become what she fears most: a test subject. Yet this is just the beginning: Cinder’s body is hiding secret information too. Who is she really? And can she stop the evil Lunar queen from getting her claws into Prince Kai, New Beijing, and the rest of earth? Kai’s robot holds the key, but how will she get the information to him in time?

Immensely readable, in Cinder Marissa Meyer has created a dystopian fairytale that keeps the reader on their toes. The characters are a nice mix of moralistically black, white and everything in between, while the action, intrigue, and emotions are perfectly spread through the story, making it a remarkably hard book to put down even at those times when you can see what’s going to happen. Meyer did keep me guessing as to how it would all end though; how much information would be revealed both to the reader and to the characters? – which, as this is just the first book of four, is enough to keep me wanting more.

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