Cinder – Marissa Meyer
Penguin Books, 2012
Cinder is a cyborg. In the city of New Beijing, that means however gifted a mechanic she may be, her earnings can be controlled by her malicious stepmother; that however hard she works, it will never be enough to make her a ‘proper’ human; that when her stepsister falls sick, she is immediately blamed. Her only dream is to someday escape. Then she meets Prince Kai, son of the dying emperor, and a wider picture opens up before her eyes. These are dangerous times, and not only for cyborgs. As Cinder uncovers secret after secret, she may have to make an impossible choice – between a dream of freedom, and saving those she loves most.
Of all the many retellings of ‘Cinderella’ I have read, this quirky science fiction version is one of the most original. I love the concept of Cinderella as a cyborg – elements of the original fairy tale are used in an enjoyably subversive way and references to other fairy tales offer a tantalising glimpse of what may lie ahead in the rest of this series. The ending, however, felt messy and confusing – while I expected loose ends, I hoped for something more satisfying. Cinder is the first book in the Lunar Chronicles. Its sequel, Scarlet, is scheduled for release early next year.