Cinder by Marissa Meyer, is the story of a half-cyborg girl adopted by a businessman, but left in guardianship of his wife after he dies suddenly. Cinder lives with her stepmother, Adri- and stepsisters, Peony and Pearl- in the kingdom of New Beijing. She has a strong relationship with Peony, but her place in the household is precarious due to the resentment filled relationship she shares with Adri and Pearl. Her adoptive father left the family with debts, and Cinder is tasked with providing an income for them through her work as a mechanic. She frequently forgoes the comforts enjoyed by the others, the only bright spots in her life being visits from the handsome Prince Kai (who is looking to have his robot repaired), and her dreams of escape.
Cinder, as the name implies, is the clever marriage of the Cinderella fairytale with a YA dystopian coming of age novel. This delightful read is imaginatively enhanced by being set in future Beijing, where vast regions of the planet are governed by councils, and interplanetary wars are commonplace threats to the inhabitants of Earth. While most elements of the Cinderella mythology are readily apparent, others are obscured by new subplots featuring plagues, royal intrigue, and intergalactic foes who seek to control human emotions by wielding powerful glamours. The Lunar Queen, Levana, is deliciously hateful and a powerful enemy to the relationship of our young would-be sweethearts. There are couple of easily guessed “revelations”, that are so poorly concealed that I wasn’t even sure whether Meyer intended them to be hidden, but those are easily overlooked when compared with a strong heroine, plenty of narrative tension and a doozy of a cliffhanger. Be warned…this is the first in a quartet. Recommended.