Eight months after a lovely young woman recommended Cinder to me at a conference, I got around to reading it. And by “got around to reading it,” I mean, “Read the first three pages, got hooked, bought the book, and devoured the whole thing in one sitting.” I don’t know why it took me so long. The reviews are good. The cover is swoon-worthy. And it didn’t disappoint. With an engaging writing style, (mostly) well-drawn characters, and fascinating futuristic setting, this fresh take on the Cinderella fairy tale kept me spellbound.
Cinder, a teenage mechanic, dreams of escaping her guardian’s control and starting over fresh in Europe. Perhaps, she thinks when she’s especially optimistic, she could even get skin grafts to pass as fully human. No one in Europe would recognize her. It would be a good place to build a life and hide her identity as a cyborg–a second class citizen, part human, part machine. But instead she gets caught up in a world of intrigue and danger when, in the span of a single day, Prince Kai asks her to fix his android and her sister falls ill with a deadly plague. Can an antidote be developed in time to save her sister or the prince’s father? Can she discourage the prince’s growing attraction to her before her cyborg identity is unmasked? And will the hypnotically beautiful Lunar queen strong-arm the prince into a devastating alliance?
Cinder is a lovely novel, paced to perfection and rendered against the stunning backdrop of New Beijing on an earth that has rebuilt itself after World War IV. Three issues in particular kept it from reaching a 5-star rating for me: 1) The plot was a bit too transparent–I accurately deduced the big twist at the end well before I reached the halfway point, 2) Levana–the villain–didn’t strike me as compelling, and 3) There were a small handful of plot inconsistencies. But, even though I knew the ending early on, I was still compelled to turn pages, which speaks highly of Meyer’s writing style and leads me to give the book a solid 4 stars. In short, read it. It’s well worth an evening. I’ll be reading the next book soon!