I love Cinderella stories. I have a collection of picture books of different Cinderella stories from around the world. I loved the novelizations by Gail Carson Levine (Ella Enchanted) and Margaret Peterson Haddix (Just Ella). I think I may have just read my all-time favorite Cinderella story when I finished Cinder (Feiwel and Friends 2012) by Marissa Meyer over the weekend. Here is what I love about it:
- Cinder rocks. She is a cyborg and the best mechanic in New Beijing. It’s her mad mechanical skills that bring the prince to her booth. Not only is she a genius mechanic, she is smart and kind. Rather than worrying about a dress for the ball, she is working on repairing her getaway car. However, being a cyborg makes her a social outcast. Most people view cyborgs as less than human and are more than willing to sacrifice one or two where needed. Somehow, Cinder knows her value and fights to be recognized for it even though she is reluctant to tell the prince her true nature. My favorite part about Cinder, though, is the way her body blends technology. I would love to have a warning light that flashed orange any time someone was lying. Despite her cool technology, Cinder is clueless to the secret that hides within her body. It is a secret some would kill her for.
- Stepmother Adri is wicked and so is the older stepsister Pearl). She fully believes that cyborgs are detestable and only keeps Cinder because she needs the income and services Cinder provides. As her legal guardian, Adri has complete control over Cinder and her money. To get rid of Cinder, she “volunteers” her as a test subject for the research to find a cure for the fatal plague sweeping the Earth. Adri doesn’t care that no cyborgs have ever come back alive. Too bad she doesn’t know that Cinder has a secret that protects her.
- Peony (the younger stepsister) is just lovely. She loves Cinder and offers friendship. Why does she have to be the one to get the plague?
- The doctor conducting the plague research is intriguing. For the longest time I wasn’t sure what to make of him. Was he on Cinder’s side? Could he be trusted? After finishing, I think him very brave and smart, but not perfect. I hope we get to know him more in future books.
- Prince Kai is not only gorgeous, he’s funny. I love how he sneaks out in disguise to the market and keeps trying to get Cinder to accept his invitation to the ball. He also has big problems. He brings his android to Cinder to fix as a matter of national security. His father, the emperor, is dying of the plague. The Lunar Queen is coming in person to make her demands to avoid war with Earth. He does not feel ready to lead his people as emperor, but soon he will have no choice. I’m not sure how he would have reacted if Cinder had told him about her cyborg nature earlier, but maybe he’ll have a chance to make it right in future books.
- An incredibly complex and troubled world provides more than just a backdrop for the story. The letumosis plague is our worst nightmares of swine flu or bird flu pandemics multiplied many times over. The Lunar Queen with her magic (or biochemical) powers is more evil and dangerous than any stepmother. It is her threat that looms over the entire Earth and over Cinder and Kai in particular.