Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .
Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.
I am so incredibly late to get on board with this series. Seriously, I have no idea what took me so long to finally read “Cinder”, but now that I have, I definitely have a new obsession. This book was honestly so good, and seeing as the series just recently ended and I’ve heard great things about the rest of the books, I feel like I’m about to go on a major marathon read session.
For the longest time I have had a total thing for fairy tales, so fairy tale retellings have always been among my favorite books. So again, on that note, I have no idea why I took forever to finally pick this up. “Cinder” is the first book in the “Lunar Chronicles” series, and it follows a version of “Cinderella” in which Cinderella is a cyborg in a world set years in the future.
So I went into this book expecting kind of a typical Cinderella retelling with the standard plot, and it sort of starts out with some typical stuff, like we’re introduced to the Cinderella character, and the stepfamily, and the prince, and there’s stuff you know is going to come up later since it’s a fairy tale retelling. But then it turned out to be really unique! Like for one the story retained a lot of aspects of the original fairy tale, but it also created an entirely new story. I think the moment when things really turned for me and it broke off from the traditional retelling is when Adri volunteered Cinder for the cyborg draft. I seriously got so bleeping mad at this point, like I always find myself seriously hating the stepmother characters in most Cinderella retellings, but this was straight up knowingly sending her to die.
And then from we diverge even more from the traditional retelling and into a really unique story as we get all this really interesting world building stuff where we learn about Lunars and how they can control people’s minds through “bioelectricity”, and then we learn that Cinder is a Lunar but she can’t be controlled so Levana is going to want to kill her and let’s just say everything gets even more interesting from there on out.
So anyway, let’s talk about the characters. In case you don’t know by now I am a really character driven person when it comes to books, and after reading this one I can tell that I am going to form intense attachments to a lot of these people.
Cinder, for one, was honestly such a good main character. She was just such a strong character even though she had been through so much, but you can tell she struggles emotionally, and god, you really just want to see her win for once. Seriously, everything that could go wrong does go completely wrong for this poor girl through the whole book and the whole time I just wanted something good to happen to her! Anyway, I’m really excited that her story is going to continue, because I could definitely follow Cinder through the whole series.
Kai, meanwhile, was such a sweetheart, and I spent the whole book getting so insanely attached to him. You know, I have recently realized there is a character type that I always get really emotionally attached too, and that is young princes with way too much responsibility thrown on them, and Kai is definitely an example. It’s actually really interesting though that Kai’s father actually seemed like he may have been a good ruler, like there’s some questionable stuff like the cyborg rights issues, but it doesn’t really follow the typical good prince with father who is a terrible person thing that shows up in a lot of stuff. And we also see Kai pressured with having to fill his father’s shoes and run an entire country that is facing a serious plague and war threats from the Queen of the freaking moon while he’s only a bleeping teenager, and oh my god, I have so many feels for this poor child.
And then there were the other characters. I absolutely loved Iko, for one. She was just so sweet, and it was so good to see Cinder have a friend and OH MY GOD when Adri disassembled her I was so bleeping ticked off. I really hope we find a new body for her soon, because that was honestly just cruel.
The stepfamily I think was probably the closest part to a traditional fairy tale retelling for me. Like we have the evil abusive stepmother who I absolutely can’t stand and the evil stepsister who both constantly ruin everything, but I’m glad the author followed the version of the story where one of the stepsisters is sympathetic, because we don’t really see that a lot. After she got the plague though I kind of had a feeling that Peony was going to die, because I’ve read so many books where the younger sibling character dies to motivate the main character that I just kind of expect it now. So I did kind of call that, but it still emotionally killed me because honestly the last thing Cinder needed in her life was more emotional pain.
Dr. Erland was an interesting character, and I look forward to learning about him. Also I’m calling it now, his daughter Crescent Moon is totally Cress from the third book, and she was also totally the girl who gave Cinder the message before the ball.
I can already tell that I am going to be infuriated by Levana. She seems really interesting, and maybe I’ll read “Fairest” to learn her backstory, but everything she did in this book was horrible, and I know that I am going to want to see her taken down as soon as possible.
So skipping ahead a bit, I have to talk about the whole ball scene. I loved everything that had to do with Cinder and Kai’s developing relationship and through the whole book, and I was really hoping that she would go to the ball and stuff would start to work out between them. So I was really excited when Cinder got the message and there was this really cool dynamic where Cinder takes full control of the situation since there’s not really a fairy godmother equivalent unless you count the girl-who-is-totally-Cress giving her the message and everything was getting really intense and climatic.
And then we get the whole scene I’ve been waiting for where they’re dancing, and it’s wonderful and romantic, and it looks like everything’s going to be ok. BUT THEN everything goes to heck, and Levana exposes Cinder as Lunar, and she gets revealed as a cyborg, but then she starts escaping and her foot comes off, and I’m like, ok, here’s the glass slipper equivalent, she’s going to get away and be a fugitive or something and Kai is going to use the foot to find her and then they’ll work together to create some plot to defeat Levana.
BUT then, everything gets even worse and Cinder gets arrested and sentenced to death and there’s terrible secondhand embarrassment everywhere, and I’m just mentally screaming “NO. THIS IS NOT OK. THAT IS NOT HOW CINDERELLA IS SUPPOSED TO END!!!”
But then we get the scene where Dr. Erland gives her the new hand and foot and she learns that she is Princess Selene, and she’s about to escape and everything is getting all intense, but then- there’s a BLEEPING CLIFF HANGER.
And all I can think is “what the crap is going to happen now?!?!?!”. Because obviously we have to see Cinder escape from prison, and we have to see her and Kai become a couple, right? I can’t see him being prejudiced against her for being a cyborg, and the whole Lunar thing may take some working over, but I can see it happening eventually. (In all actuality, I’m pretty glad that this book didn’t focus on romance as much as I expected, especially for a fairy tale retelling). And we need to see Cinder escape and reclaim her title! So yeah, I was seriously messed up over that cliff hanger.
And because of that I went straight to my kindle and got “Scarlet”, because I had to know what happened next. Even though it was literally like 2:00 in the morning on Christmas Eve and I knew I was probably about to get a bunch of books, I had to know what happened next.
Speaking of which, I guess that’s where I’ll leave off until I see you next time for my book talk for “Scarlet”! Thanks for reading!