A half-cyborg Cinderella? Count me in!
I've heard a lot about Cinder and the rest of Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles series, especially with the final book, Winter, coming out later this year. As a fan of fractured fairy tales/fairy tale retellings, I was pretty excited. Not to mention, this series has been compared to Sailor Moon and, while I haven't read the original mangas, I was obsessed with the anime (to this day, I'm still sad I missed the conclusion of the Sailor Saturn arc). So I finally got around to picking up a copy of book one for myself.
I was not disappointed.
Cinder is half-cyborg, half-human. She's also the best mechanic in New Beijing, which is part of the Eastern Commonwealth. And, naturally, when sexy Prince Kai's android conks out, who does he go to? Why, Cinder, of course!
Unlike a lot of YA, I wouldn't label their relationship as "insta-love". Sure, there's some mutual attraction going on, though Cinder, because of her wiring, can't physically blush, but they don't fall in love with each other in two seconds or less. Their friendship blossoms slowly and, while I won't spoil it for you, the ending leaves their budding relationship on a cliffhanger.
Another aspect I really liked was the world in which they live. The majority of dystopian/distant future novels focus on one city and rarely give information about how the rest of the world fared about the major war/bomb/catastrophe that split them apart. In Cinder, we hear about the different countries or commonwealths that formed after World War IV, especially the Eastern Commonwealth, where Prince Kai is next in line to be emperor.
Plus, there is a kingdom on the Moon. THE MOON. Led by the cunning Queen Levana, the Lunar people have different ideals than their Earthen counterparts and Levana wants nothing more than to either become empress of the Eastern Commonwealth or start a war - or both.
Basically, I pictured her as Queen Beryl:
Admittedly, there were certain plot points that were predictable; any YA/fairy tale/YA-fairy-tale fan worth their salt should be able to see the Big Reveal coming fairly early on. But the story drew me in and kept me going until the end, even if I did sometimes feel impatient with Cinder.
Overall, I loved the way the fairy tale elements were seamlessly incorporated into the story, and I'm very excited to get to know Scarlett (Little Red Riding Hood), Cress (Rapunzel), and Winter (Snow White) in the rest of the series!