Friday, January 13, 2012


I love fairytales, particularly fairytales that are retold in some unique way. I love Gail Carson Levine for that, and in fact, I'm reading one of her stories now. But I just finished Cinder, a young adult debut novel by Marissa Meyer, and Cinder is based on the story of Cinderella, except that it takes place in our world at some point after World War IV when the whole world is united under an Emperor and on the brink of possible war with the people of the Moon, the Lunars. Earth is a world of humans, androids, and cyborgs, a mix of the two others: humans with machine parts in them. Humans and cyborgs battle a plague for which there is no cure, and cyborgs are drafted to be test subjects. In this world lives Cinder, a cyborg with a metal hand and a metal foot and machine parts in her brain and other places, comprising 36.28 percent of her make-up.

Cinder is a mechanic whose life changes the day Prince Kai comes to her market booth, urgently requesting that she fix his android. But Cinder is not a free agent. She is a ward, owned by a stepmother who will take any excuse to get rid of her and does when Cinder's most sympathetic stepsister gets the plague. Her stepmother volunteers her for plague testing, and that's when Cinder finds out that she is special, but she doesn't know the half of it.

I appreciated how loosely this story was based on Cinderella. You can recognize the key elements of that fairytale, but Cinder's story takes place in such a different world with different motivations that you still feel like you're reading a unique story. However, the part that most diverged from the original fairytale is the part I wish hadn't: the end. So many young adult debut novels these days are the first of a series, and since I read them as advance reader copies, I usually don't see more than that first book unless I love it and keep up to date with the sequels. Cinder is the first of a series, so I'm going to tell you, folks, she doesn't end up with her least not yet. That is frustrating, and I feel like you should know it right up front so that you aren't disappointed. However, there's more evidence than with most series that this author knows where she is going and will wrap up everything satisfactorily. For instance, we already know that the series will be four books long, and we have titles and release dates, too, one a year through 2015. Cinder is good enough that I'm looking forward to seeing how it all ends, and believe me, there's enough plot there that it's not going to be just a simple, "Here's your prince." But it's a fairytale, so yes, I do expect and hope for "happily ever after."

Whether or not this series will be popular I don't know, but it's one to watch out for. And I don't have any complaints yet on moral appropriateness. I'm all for this one.

Four stars.

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