Ｒａｔｉｎｇ：★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Sixteen-year-old Cinder is considered a technological mistake by most of society and a burden by her stepmother. Being cyborg does have its benefits, though: Cinder’s brain interference has given her an uncanny ability to fix things (robots, hovers, her own malfunctioning parts), making her the best mechanic in New Beijing. This reputation brings Prince Kai himself to her weekly market booth, needing her to repair a broken android before the annual ball. He jokingly calls it “a matter of national security,” but Cinder suspects it’s more serious than he’s letting on.
Although eager to impress the prince, Cinder’s intentions are derailed when her younger stepsister, and only human friend, is infected with the fatal plague that’s been devastating Earth for a decade. Blaming Cinder for her daughter’s illness, Cinder’s stepmother volunteers her body for plague research, an “honor” that no one has survived.
But it doesn’t take long for the scientists to discover something unusual about their new guinea pig. Something others would kill for.
✩ I liked Cinder because she was independent and hardworking. She knew not to rely on others.
✩ A lot of people from my read-along were totally “swooning” over Kai, but I just didn’t see it? I mean, he was funny and kind of nice. I liked the gift he gave Cinder, but I wasn’t swooning.
✩ I also liked Levana’s fierce and unforgiving character. She was cunning, manipulative, and vain.
❝ The moon had always given her a sense of paranoia, like the people who lived up there could be watching her, and if she stared for too long, she might draw their attention.❞
I’m not really that big into sci-fi or cyborgs so I was hesitant to start this series. It’d been sitting on my TBR for the longest time and then I finally got it because it went on sale. But it kept sitting there, lol. I finally decided to give it a shot because one of my groups on Goodreads was doing a read-along for it this month so I said “Hey, why not?”
Cinder is a sci-fi retelling of the classic fairytale, Cinderella. And–surprisingly–I ended up liking this book a lot more than I initially thought I would. Although, it didn’t get to that point right away. In the first 50-60 pages, things moved pretty slow. I didn’t hate the book, but I wasn’t crazy about it either. It really wasn’t until Cinder went to the lab that things really picked up.
Cinder was a good character. I liked that her motivation was to leave and that it didn’t really change for anyone else. She was really driven, dedicated, and hardworking. I think her character lacked any other motivations and her personality was funny but also … flat at times? I think the reason it came off that way was simply because she was in a tough situation and she was so focused on her goal that it didn’t leave room for anything else. I’m hoping we get to know her better and see her character develop further later in the series.
Kai’s character also had similar issues. He was really wrapped up in doing his job so there weren’t too many moments when we could see him outside of that role. Still, I thought he was really funny, sarcastic, and dedicated. I liked how he was kind to everyone despite their station so long as they weren’t jerks. However, I was not impressed with how he acted at the end of the book, although I understood how overwhelming it was.
The romance in this book was okay. I wasn’t going crazy over it, but I did think it was kind of cute. It didn’t completely develop and things were left standing kind of awkwardly at the end of the book so I do want to see what happens with it. At first, it just seemed driven on looks (her being pretty), but I saw moments when it was more because they treated each other with respect, almost as equals. I think what really pulled them together was the honesty they shared in terms of they could share things with one another that no one else could.
❝ He despised her–for everything she was, for everything she’d done, for how she’d turned Earth’s suffering into a game of politics.❞
I’m also giving props to Levana because I like her as a villain. She knew how to manipulate people not just with her powers, but also by knowing how to play people’s emotions and needs. She was smart, and that’s what really made her a formidable enemy.
Meyer drops plenty of hints of where the story was going (plus it’s a Cinderella retelling) so it was fairly obvious what Cinder’s role was going to be. However, I still enjoyed reading the story. I still felt like something was still missing from the book, and it took me a while to really figure out what it was that really kept this book from being amazing: world building. There were little details here and there–they did state it was New Beijing–but really the story felt like it could be taking place anywhere. They brought up the advanced tech often enough and I felt like that was used as a crutch/in lieu of world building in terms of traditions, history, trends. I would have liked more detail about the world and maybe even more about the Lunars–although that one is more forgivable because I figure we’ll learn more in another book when things get more tense between Levana and Earth/Prince Kai.
So, overall, I’d say this is a really fun and creative take on Cinderella. I would recommend it to people who like sci-fi, fantasy, or retellings.