When it comes to the story of Cinderella, you’re stuck with either images of dancing and singing mice, or the bloody limb version from Grimm’s. CINDER, however, introduces a whole new twist on the beloved fairy tale that is sure to be something you’ve never read before --- and is just as exciting. There’s a handsome prince, a lost shoe, a horrible stepmother, and even some semblance of a carriage, but not in the way you remember.
"I’ve read some 're-imaginings' of fairy tales before, and CINDER is by far the best. Marissa Meyer manages to use a fairy tale to provide a glimpse into the future that is more realistic than you might think."
Cinder spends most of her days in a booth in the market place in New Beijing fixing other people’s mechanical problems. Nothing out of the ordinary ever really happens until the day Prince Kai comes in begging for his android to be fixed. Prince Kai and Cinder immediately hit it off, but Cinder knows nothing will ever come of it. There are too many obstacles in the way. For one, a deadly plague is ravaging the countryside, and Prince Kai surely has to focus on finding a cure before he could ever get involved in a relationship. There is also another little problem that Cinder is too afraid to tell Prince Kai, something that Cinder’s stepmother and stepsisters won’t let her forget --- Cinder is a cyborg. Part human and part robot, Cinder is an outcast in society, and there is no way royalty would ever get involved with a social reject.
Of course, the royal ball is coming up soon, and Cinder would like to think that she could attend and perhaps even dance with Prince Kai. Things start to unravel quickly, though, and this dream goes up in smoke. One of Cinder’s stepsisters contracts the plague, and Cinder is blamed. Then comes the announcement that the cunning and ruthless lunar queen is coming for a visit, and she intends to force Prince Kai into marrying her or else risk starting a war. While fixing Prince Kai’s android, Cinder discovers a secret message about a long-lost lunar princess that may just bring peace between the lunar people and earth.
You know the rest of the story, right? Cinder is visited by her fairy godmother who turns a pumpkin into a carriage, Cinder and the prince fall madly in love, Cinder runs away and leaves her shoe, and everyone ends up happily ever after.
Think again. This is not the story you grew up with, and let’s just say that there is a little more at stake than making sure the shoe fits.
I’ve read some “re-imaginings” of fairy tales before, and CINDER is by far the best. Marissa Meyer manages to use a fairy tale to provide a glimpse into the future that is more realistic than you might think. It’s not hard to imagine technology becoming integrated with humans, nor is it hard to realize that our world will be facing much more difficult problems in the future than we are now. For all of you Cinderella purists, though, there is no need to worry. Meyer stays as true to the story as possible, but leaves enough wiggle room to make sure that you’ll be clamoring for the next book in the series.
Reviewed by Benjamin Boche on March 17, 2012