I absolutely loved this book! I’ve known about it for a while because I ordered it for my volunteer library months ago. And I knew from my first glimpse of the cover in that catalog that this was going to be a fantastic read.
It started a little slow for me, mostly because there was no extensive introduction to Cinder’s world. The story just sort of started and readers are meant to figure some things out on their own. And in the long run, I liked this technique, but at first it made my absorption of the story a little slower.
It’s about Cinder, a cyborg (part girl/part machine), whose been adopted into a cruel family. She survived a serious accident and surgery at the age of 11, but has no memories of her life pre-surgery. The man who adopted her died of the plague before she got to know him, and she was left to an evil stepmother, an evil stepsister, and one nice stepsister. Cinder, being part machine, has no legal rights to anything. Her stepmother practically owns her. She can’t leave, can’t keep the money she earns, and can’t even go anywhere without her stepmother knowing her exact location.
Cinder lives in the future, on earth. There has been 4 world wars. And large portions of the earth’s population have disappeared due to the plague. There’s robots, flying cars, space ships, cyborgs, and Lunars (people who live on the moon). The story really takes off when Cinder’s good sister obtains the plague, and the rest of Cinder’s family blames Cinder for it. There’s a frightening scene in the beginning where Cinder is forced to leave her home, and robots drag her to the palace to be a “volunteer” for finding the cure. Cinder thinks she’s going to die, but soon learns she’s immune to the plague.
And of course she’s dragged off after befriending Prince Charming (Aka: Kai). He came to her booth at the market to have his android (not phone, but personal robot) fixed. Cinder is famous for her mechanic skills.
After realizing she is immune, the doctor in charge lets Cinder go and agrees to pay her money (that doesn’t go to her stepmother) as long as Cinder agrees to help him find a cure. Cinder agrees on the note that her sister will get helped if a cure is found.
There’s a ball, some serious spying, mind manipulation, disguises, a lot of mechanical work, and some very interesting cyborg politics. Cinder and Kai have a lot of important decisions to make through out the book about what’s best for the people. Everyone wants a cure to be found. But, soon Kai’s father dies, and the queen of the moon wants to make a marriage alliance with Kai. She makes all sorts of threats to get what she wants.
And the book ends with a cliffhanger, but I know at least three more books are in the works. I know a war is brewing between earth and the moon. And I know it’s up to Kai and Cinder to prevent it.
I loved the world this book took place in. I found everything about this futuristic society fascinating. And I’m grateful that the author allowed for a lot of space for me to imagine my own additions to the world. The characters are excellent. I liked Cinder, I really did. I just wished sometimes that she would stop doubting herself. I was a little sick of all the “How can anyone like me? I’m just a cyborg?” comments. And I predicted the ending pretty much from the very beginning. So I’m assuming I was supposed to guess what I did? But, sometimes what the characters never guessed for themselves was downright ridiculous. And I still don’t get how Kai could have been that blind.
I thought all the tie-ins to the fairy tale were fantastic. The girl left behind a whole foot (as compared to the glass slipper), and who would not find that better? There were still all the embarrassing “Ever After” type realizations that Kai came to. There was Cinder’s late entrance to the ball. And I’m interested in seeing if the author will be tying in other fairy tale elements with the rest of her books (entitled Scarlet, Cress, and Winter –all different fairytale sounding names).
I liked that Cinder was a mechanic and I liked that she wasn’t totally alone; she had the one good sister and her best robot friend too, both of whom I ended up caring for. And I liked that Kai wasn’t the most important element for Cinder. She seemed to value her freedom, her friends, and her sister above all else. And yes, she went back to share some important information with Kai at the end, but I don’t think she would have if it didn’t seem she could save his life. Though, I did find myself wishing for a little more romance. I get why Cinder liked Kai so much, but I feel like Kai's "love" for Cinder kind of came out of nowhere, and he was so persistent for something that came out of nowhere. I'm sure this will be added to with the rest of the books, and I can't wait.
All in all, I really enjoyed this one. And I give it a 9/10.