I am extremely excited with the prospect that at least two of the Cinderella stories coming out this year feature heroines who are totally bad ass. Cinder, the first volume of a series by Marissa Meyer, features the half-cyborg mystery woman Linh Cinder. Cinder is considered to be basically a form of property owned by her mean step-mother, in a society where cyborgs are considered less than human. In a futuristic world where a mysterious plague threatens to kill everyone, and a crazy warring queen on the moon also threatens to kill everyone, Cinder is just trying to get by with what she can. But like any good hero, she just can’t manage to stay out of trouble.
While the book has many classic elements of the Cinderella tale (the fight to get to ball, the prince, the step-mother and sisters), there are a ton of neat ways in which Meyer enhances the story, and in some cases, rips the original story off it’s beaten path and drops it out of a helicopter somewhere in the jungle to find its way back. Cinder isn’t content to spend her days on the fringes of society, making money for her stepmother as the city’s best mechanic. She makes her own plans to get herself out of there, and none of them include the fabulous Prince Kai (at least not at first). And the story is not only about Cinder. While she deals with things in her own life, she becomes part of a huge web of people whose actions are going to decide the fate of the world. Because of it’s 3rd person narrative, the novel pops in and out of several different characters, all giving their own sides of the story. There is Prince Kai, the young man who must deal with not only the plague, but also an evil queen who has designs to marry him and take over. I find Prince Kai endearing because he falls for the Cinder that is covered in grease, who fixes cars and androids and hasn’t worn a dress in her known life. And there’s Dr. Erland, the mysterious man charged with finding the cure for the plague, but who is really looking for something else entirely.
I highly recommend this book, not just to people who love reading retellings of fairy tales, but really to anyone who is looking for a well rounded adventure series to get into. But now, we wait, for 2013 that brings the sequel, Scarlet. Happy reading!