Where to begin, where to begin…
I had no plans to read this book. It wasn’t on my TBR and I really knew nothing about it. Sure, I’d noticed people talking about it here and there and my younger cousin had mentioned once that she enjoyed it but it just didn’t ping on my radar. But, meandering through the library one day while waiting for my daughter to decide between a book about Christmas (it is March) and another about a trash truck (this was apparently a taxing book choice for a toddler) I stumbled across Cinder. I’d read Heartless before by the same author and loved it so into my bag it went without much thought.
When I sat down and opened this book up the next morning I can’t say I really knew what to expect. So, with the vague understanding that I’d be getting myself into a Cinderella retelling, in I dove.
What I didn’t expect was to be entertained.
“Even in the future the story begins with Once Upon a Time.”
We begin with Cinder, a teenage girl who is part machinery which makes her a cyborg. The year is…well, sometime in the future. I’m sure the date was mentioned but I couldn’t be bothered to jot it down. Cinder runs a mechanic’s repair booth in the market in New Beijing where people bring her datapads, androids, and other electronic odds and ends to fix. Her life gets turned upside down one day when Kai, the crown prince, brings her his android incognito for repair. He hints to Cinder that he just has a sentimental attachment to the machine but she can tell he is lying and there is something more important to the android beneath the surface. Cinder, despite being a cyborg, is still a teenage girl and gets all awkward with the handsome prince but does promise to fix his android.
In recent years, New Beijing and other parts of the world had been having trouble with a plague. Scientists couldn’t figure out where the plague was coming from and there appeared to be no cure. The disease is highly contagious and had been decimating populations and has found it’s way into Cinder’s home.
Of course, being a Cinderella retelling, Cinder lives with a guardian aka wicked stepmother and her two daughters. Most cyborgs were treated as property but one of her “stepsisters” had become friends with Cinder and treated her as just another person. A friend. This stepsister contracts the plague and Cinder is devastated. Her stepmother/guardian blames Cinder for her daughter catching this incurable disease and “volunteers” Cinder to be taken by the government for testing as they try to find a cure.
“My only mistake was in waiting too long to be rid of you”, Adri said, running the washcloth between her fingers. “Believe me, Cinder. You are a sacrifice I will never regret.”
From there Cinder’s life changes irreparably. Moon people are involved. Okay, they aren’t called “moon people” but that is what they are. Also with any Cinderella story, even a futurist retelling, we have our pumpkin coach, glass slipper, and ball gown. I did enjoy seeing how those themes were worked into Cinder.
The story turns out to be fairly interesting and being YA it was an easy read. Admittedly I had reservations about a story with a cyborg Cinderella from the future. It just didn’t tickle me the way so many other people seemed to enjoy it. The story was quick and caught my attention but I probably won’t be handing it more than 3 stars on Goodreads. For me it just didn’t have any meat. Everything was expected and that just makes things dull. Not to mention the whole awkward teenage girl thing. Why is that necessary? I’d love a YA novel with a strong, intelligent, not silly young protagonist. One that doesn’t get the flutters around visually appealing Y chromosomes. Sigh…
In a nut shell, entertaining book but it could have been better.