Author: Marissa Meyer
Narrator: Rebecca Soler
Audiobook Length: 10 hours 2 minutes
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.
Cinder is the first novel in the Lunar Chronicles, which has been on my radar for quite some time. This story is a retelling of Cinderella set in a dystopian world. While there are some familiar elements with a lot of predictability, there were also some fun twists, too. The world is set in the distant future where the continents have come together in a single empire with seven smaller nations within it. This tale, the story takes place in New Beijing. Here cyborgs, anyone who has any type of automated part, are considered second-class compared to their fully-human counterparts. Additionally to those that live on Earth, there are also those that live on the moon, the Lunars. In New Beijing, a plague has begun to spread with no cure in sight.
This story follows Cinder, a 16-years-old cyborg, who has been raised by her stepmother, Audrey, and two step-sisters, Pearl, who does not like Cinder, and Peony, who supports her. As a mechanic, she has a booth set up in the market where people can drop off things for her to fix. One of these customers is Prince Kai, the heir to the throne of New Beijing, who asks her to fix his android that contains some secrets. Cinder develops a small crush on him but knows that nothing can truly happen as she is a cyborg. As the kingdom is trying to find a cure for the plague, cyborgs are being submitted for experiments. After Peony catches the disease, Audrey blames Cinder and volunteers her for the experiments. Here Cinder meets Dr. Erland and begins to discover more about herself as she learns more about her present, past, and potential future. While being a part of the experiments, Cinder continues to work as a mechanic where Kai’s android holds secrets involving Levana, a Lunar, who is on the verge of waging war against Earth.
Cinder was a fun character as she wants to be accepted, but society is not quite there yet and she has lower confidence in herself at times. She was a great character that was determined and feisty yet vulnerable while trying to learn from her mistakes. Prince Kai may not be the most memorable personality in the story compared to some other characters, but he is fun and sarcastic with a huge political weight on his shoulders. His character builds up a lot in this novel and I expect he will experience a lot of development as the series moves forward. In this novel, I enjoyed his sweet yet snarky personality and, again, I cannot wait to read more about it in the rest of the series. Other notable characters were Iko, who was amazing, along with the fun of the mysterious Dr. Erland, and the excellent villain, Levana.
While the details themselves may be original, there is a lot of familiarity with the incorporation of the Cinderella tale plus a lot of foreshadowing for some twists. Even though it was easy to guess the ending, it was still a very interesting ride. The novel is slower and the pacing seems purposeful to flow from one story to the next. The romance element was present, but in the background in favor of the story focusing on the bigger picture. For the world-building, I liked the politics that were explored, but I wish the story went into a background about the reasons for cyborgs to be treated differently (when did it start, by who, etc.). The story was very enjoyable and kept me interested from start to finish. Even though not every element was perfect, all of the potentials is there. I am extremely looking forward to continuing the series with the second novel, Scarlet!