Author: Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #1
Publication date: 3rd january 2012
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Page number: 387 pages
Facebook: The Lunar Chronicles
Post World War IV New Beijing. Linh-Cinder, a cyborg girl at the mercy of Adri – her step-mother – works as a mechanic at the market. Earning the family’s wage fixing droids, hovers and netscreens in her market booth, Cinder’s life is about to change when the heir to the Eastern Commonwealth, Prince Kaito, comes to get his old droid fixed.
While step-sisters Pearl and Peony prepare for the annual ball given at the palace, Cinder slaves away repairing the family hover in the hope that she may join the rest of the city for the ball. But when Peony falls victim to the devastating letumosis, an uncurable disease that plagues the Earth, Cinder knows her days in the family are numbered.
Retelling old stories seems to be a trend amongst authors these days, and I have to admit I prefer brand-new stories to vintage ones. When I first got my hands on Cinder, I wasn’t sure how much I would enjoy it. The summary at the back of the book did not seem particularly inspired, and despite the good reviews floating around the blogosphere, I had a few reservations that stopped me from reading it earlier.
And this, my friend, was a mistake. You may remember a few things from Cinderella, be it the awful step-family or the coveted ball, but let me get this out of the way now: the similarities stop there. Cinder has a distinct dystopian feel to it and Meyer lets us indulge in it with her interesting world-building. A couple of World Wars later, the planet has become the Earthen Union and countries have teamed up to form the Eastern Commonwealth, the European Federation, and others. Except now, there are Lunars. These aliens from the moon are led by the fearsome Queen Levana, who is intent on getting her hands on the Earth.
Back on their green planet, Earthen citizens are now divided between humans and cyborgs, a lower caste of humans who have been subjected to technological modifications on their bodies, generally in a bid to save their lives or make their lives easier. Both, however, are equal when faced with a deadly disease to which no cure has yet been found: the letumosis. In an attempt to find a cure and save Prince Kaito’s father, Emperor Rikan, the leader of the royal team of scientists, Dr Erland, organises a cyborg draft to generate a steady supply of test subjects.
When Linh-Adri, Cinder’s step-mother, decides it is time to enrol her in the draft, Cinder prepares herself for death. What no-one expected, however, was her body’s reaction to the virus…
Although the plot is somehow predictable (I guess that’s what you get for reading too much!), the twists are numerous, not always expected and generally quite clever. This makes for an interesting and thrilling story, to which a little bit of romance has been added for the pleasure of all.
Meyer has succeeded in creating interesting characters who are easy to relate to and who will no doubt make the reader reflect upon societal problems we experience even now: discrimination towards people who do not fit the norm, problems within families, acceptance and rejection. Cinder is far from the one-dimensional fairy tale we grew up with, and the simple yet efficient and energetic writing style used by the author makes for a light and enthralling read.
For those of you in search of a short page-turner, for those of you who like to read about the future of our planet, and for those of you who are in love with fairy tales (thank you Alexander!), now is the time to get your hands on the first book of The Lunar Chronicles series.