My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
I’m a big fan of books based on fairytales and previously read the short prequel to Cinder in the Fierce Reads anthology so was very excited to finally get a chance to read the first book in this popular young adult series.
As you can probably guess the story is based on Cinderella however this is Cinderella with a very unique twist. Cinder is a cyborg. As a young girl her life was saved following an accident by replacing a number of her parts with robotics. Being part robot she is considered a second class citizen and the property of her guardian (the evil stepmother). Given her knowledge of all things robotic she is sent to work in the local market in Beijing fixing androids to make money and provide for her adopted family. While this is not exactly a happy life it becomes worse when her sister contracts the plague which is spreading across the earth and is taken away to a quarantine facility that no one ever returns from. Blamed by her stepmother for her sister’s disease it’s safe to say their relationship does not improve however it turns out that Cinder may hold the key to the cure and the salvation of the planet (no pressure there then).
I’ve read a lot of books based on fairytales recently but for me Cinder was definitely a stand out. As a young adult book it’s a nice and easy read but with a lot of big themes (discrimination, human rights) and positive messages about believing in yourself and accepting the things you don’t like about yourself. There are a lot of references and links to the original story which I loved but it somehow managed to put a twist on almost all of them. Her robotic leg, for example, doubled as the glass slipper and an old car she found in the junk shop was the pumpkin to get her to the ball. What I really liked about this book though was that it had such a strong and independent female character. Too often I find in books that the female characters are either dependent on someone coming to save them or spend all of their time obsessing over boys. While there is some romance in the book it’s not the main focus and there is no fairy godmother waiting to save the day. Cinder has to stand alone and make her own choices.
My only minor gripe is that I found some of the characters a little one dimensional and it was a little light on emotional impact but it’s probably about right for younger readers.
Overall, fairytales, romance, a feisty heroine, robots and aliens, what’s not to love. I’ve already bought the next book in the series.