In this futuristic retelling of Cinderella, Cinder is a cyborg (which means she has some robotic body parts, like a hand and a foot) and a gifted mechanic. She lives in New Beijing (the old Beijing was destroyed after the fourth World War) with her stepmother and two stepsisters. At the beginning of the story, the Emperor’s son, Prince Kai, brings Cinder one of his android robots to fix. Cinder discovers that this android carries information that is very important to Kai (and perhaps the future of the country).
Meanwhile a plague has broken out, killing Kai’s mother and threatening to take his father, too. When one of Cinder’s stepsisters falls ill, the stepmother volunteers Cinder for medical testing, a series of experimental trials conducted by the palace doctors in an effort to find a cure. When the results of Cinder’s tests are unexpected, she begins to question who she is.
I know the plot sounds strange, and mixing fairy tales and sci-fi seems odd, but somehow it WORKS. I’m not really a sci-fi gal, but this new world was well-developed. The idea of cyborgs and androids fit right in and wasn’t clunky within the story, I think mostly because of Cinder’s voice. She still functions as a human (she doesn’t talk like a robot or anything), but she just happens to have a computer in her head that can link her to any information on the internet within seconds. Pretty cool! Unlike many Cinderella stereotypes, Cinder is strong, sarcastic, and caring. She adores her younger stepsister, the one who catches the plague, which was a refreshing twist on the original Cinderella story.
Honestly, CINDER really only uses Cinderella as a springboard. The plot is completely new. There are small pieces from the original tale—an orange car Cinder is trying to fix up to be her ride out of New Beijing, the yearly festival thrown by the palace—but CINDER follows its own story arc. I think that’s one of the reasons I adored it so much. It’s such a creative, original story.
CINDER is the first book in The Lunar Chronicles series. The next two books continue Cinder’s journey while introducing new characters: SCARLET (Little Red Riding Hood) and CRESS (Rapunzel). The final book, WINTER, has not been released yet, but I believe it will focus on Snow White.
I’ve been starting a lot of new book series lately, and this one is by far my favorite. I was so excited every time I picked the book up. I bought SCARLET and CRESS and cannot wait to read them!
What do you think about fairytale retellings? Have you read CINDER?