Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Release Date: January 3, 2012
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Pages: 387 (ARC version)
Reading level: Young Adult
Cinder, a gifted mechanic in New Beijing, is also a cyborg. She's reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister's sudden illness. But when her life becomes entwined with the handsome Prince Kai's, she finds herself at the centre of a violent struggle between the desires of an evil queen - and a dangerous temptation.
Cinder is caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal. Now she must uncover secrets about her mysterious past in order to protect Earth's future.
-- from Goodreads.com
I am a huge fan of retold fairy tales, especially if they are done well, but Cinderella was never one of my favorite fairy tales. Even the Grimm Brothers couldn't make it all that interesting to me because hey, it's a story about a pathetic girl who can only escape oppression by marrying a prince. It's a sad tale on so many levels. NOT Cinder.
Cinder snagged me from the first few pages when I was thrust into a future society (not quite a dystopia but futuristic & gritty enough to keep me interested) and viewing it through the eyes of a girl who has grown up as a second citizen thanks to the cyborg implants that keep her functioning. I found that, in spite of her differences from anything remotely similar to my life, I identified with Cinder. She was immediately likable, smart and witty without being wishy washy or whiny. She withstood her hardships with grace and aplomb. I admired her immensely as I watched her progress through the story. And, while her personality wasn't many-layered, her history was rich with twists that unfolded in just such a manner as to make me want to keep devouring the story until I discovered every single secret her past held. And believe me, it's a fun ride!
The world is brilliant as it remembers still how it rose from the rubble of World War IV and is populated with characters who were believable and wonderful. From the charming Prince who is much more than a pretty face to the snarky android sidekick with her own wishes to go to the ball to the creatively designed diplomats from other countries. They didn't annoy me (well, maybe the stepmother & stepsister did but they were supposed to, right?) nor did they bore me.
This story had so many elements that I absolutely love. Gritty, hurdles for the protagonist to overcome or stumble over -- Cinder does both at different times which added to my enjoyment. Dark past secrets. Mythology authentic to only the story itself. Wide-ranging conspiracies. Evil that is purely evil & good that is purely good. Not to mention a fine ribbon of realistic romance. It's an all-around great story. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys stories that think outside the box, retell fairy tales, or even have a craving for something sort of steam punk and fun. Read it. Seriously.
And if you are feeling lucky, stop by next week. I'll be giving away my ARC of Cinder during my week-long 2nd Annual Cleaning My Bookshelf Giveaway!