“She was a cyborg, and she would never go to a ball.”Marissa Meyer, Cinder
I was hooked with that one line. I love fairytale retellings, but adding Cyborg parts and a Lunar colony? That was all new to me.
Rather than being the first child of her deceased father, he adopted Cinder under mysterious circumstances. Upon her father’s death, her stepmother uses her as labour, to provide income for the family. Unlike the original story where she maintains the house, this time Cinder(ella) is a mechanic, and a great one. It helps that she is part cyborg, so mechanical parts are natural to her nature.
The story takes place in New Beijing, far in the future, where technology is more developed but there remains social class separation and a newly developed class of part cyborgs. I don’t truly understand why people who receive cyborg parts as a medical condition reduces their status, but the story is told from Cinder’s point of view and she experiences the world as a cyborg.
The use of cyborgs in medical trials I found disturbing. More so, that no groups protesting were protesting the experimentation. Even if some of it was voluntary.
I travel in books; it is one reason I love picking up travel guides, historical books, and genre fiction. So I can travel through real and imaginary lands. I intended to travel to New Beijing through Cinder’s journey, but I found the setting details sparse. I would have loved more. Cinder’s job in the market could have been an incredibly detailed escape from her family, relationships develop in micro-communities. But we only saw her dissatisfaction in her life. This is possibly a challenge of book-length and story length. I am happy to read thick books with deep settings, so I look for that in books. Perhaps the series fills out with more details as it progresses.
Cinder is lonely and focused a lot of her internal thoughts on escaping her stepmother and finding her own life.
I liked the beginning of Cinder’s character. She is resourceful and cares about the beings important to her. When she sees a wrong against someone she cares about, she stands up and tries to make a difference. I appreciate her having agency and decide, even with the besotted prince asking her out, she focuses on her goals for a new life. Prince Kai, I wish, was more rounded. He has a lot of potential as a likable character, but I needed more to care about him. But I wasn’t a fan of Romeo in Romeo and Juliet either, I am not a big fan of the fall in love at first look and forget everything else important in their lives.
There are several developed characters all with their secrets, however, as this is a Cinderella retelling, we can match pretty well how they all fall into place. The twists were expected, but I enjoyed them regardless. Reading about a plague during our pandemic probably is why I had trouble immersing myself in the settings and the characters. All I have to do is look online or watch the news and I can see the finger-pointing and anger. The lengths people will go in their pain and fear. Her story was not too far off the mark.
I think it will be worth re-reading this in a couple of years when the pandemic has moved into memory, even as we live our new realities. There are always long-term effects when humanity undergoes duress. Hopefully, we will remember more of our lessons and humanity the next time around. Then I can read Cinder for the escapism instead of an alternated current event.
One last thing, the story does not end. I am not a fan of cliffhangers, so I will not continue reading the series. I purchase a book to read a full story. And it did not meet my needs for a satisfying ending. Regardless, the book series has great potential with more world-building. It is also unique from anything I have read before, and I appreciate that.
So, If you want to try a new take on Cinderella, this might be a good fit for you. You can go buy the series so you will not have to deal with the cliffhanger if they are not your thing.