How much do I love fairy tale retelling? Let me tell you: a lot. I particularly like Cinderella retellings. I don't know why, but this is by far my favourite fairy tale to be retold. And what better than Cinderella with cyborgs? Yeah. Cyborgs.
In the future, New Beijing is peopled by humans and cyborgs living together, even though cyborgs are still considered second-class citizens. So is Cinder, a seventeen-year-old cyborg who works as a mechanic and lives with her stepmother, who can barely stand her, and two stepsisters. When her younger stepsister falls terminally ill with the illness that is decimating New Beijing, Cinder's stepmother tries to sell her as guinea pig to find a cure. At the hospital, though, the scientist in charge will discover an incredible truth about Cinder's past and offer her to cooperate with his team.
Due to her job, Cinder also gets to meet Prince Kai, the heir to the throne. He's under a lot of stress to find a bride and about to get coronated, as his father is dying. To keep intergalactic peace, Kai is pressured to get engaged to the queen of the Moon, ruthless and scheming Queen Levana. But he's far more attracted to Cinder herself.
I loved this book, especially the two main characters. Cinder is strong and determined. Her relationship to her younger stepsister is tender and sweet, and especially heartbreaking when the girl gets ill, since Cinder blames herself. The chemistry between Cinder and Kai was so strong it made the air sizzle. Their almost-kiss in the elevator... sweet heavens. I also loved it that Kai is a generous person and wants to do what is best for his people, even if it means sacrificing his own happiness. This novel has dystopian undertones, but that is because of the epidemic threatening the whole population, not because the governants are corrupt.
On the other hand, I must say that the big revelation coming at the end of the book was quite predictable, or at least, I was able to see it coming ever since the alternative heir to the Moon throne was mentioned. Still, it's a good, enchanting book. I loved the ball scene, when Cinder enters the ballroom in her ruined dress and is acknowledged as the prince's personal guest.
And Princess Selene of the Moon kingdom? Sailor Moon reference, anyone? Hehehehehehehe.
I'd recommend this book if you love a good, inventive fairy tale retelling; if you like sweet romances; and if you don't mind the story being a bit predictable. I promise it makes up for it. Too bad it is the first book in a series (of three? Four books?), so you are left wondering what happens next to our favourite cyborg. I understand the next books are supposed to focus on different fairy tale retellings, while continuing Cinder's story. The next book will be titled Scarlett. I'm confused about the fairy tale it's supposed to be about. Little Red Riding Hood, maybe.Cover attraction:
I love the detail of the iron parts in her leg and the red shoe. I also like the font of the title. It looks... lunar to me. I've also included in this post the Italian and Spanish covers. The Italian cover is a very pretty lilac, and I love the moon in the shadows that you can see in the background. The little stars on the "C" of Cinder are also very pretty. Under the title, you can read, "In the future, too, stories begin with Once upon a time...". I'm not a big fan of the girl on the cover, though. With hair like that, she looks more like medusa to me than cyborg, and she's very different from what I imagined Cinder to look like. She's way too girly. Isn't Cinder some sort of a tomboy? (And no, even if the book is out in Italian already, I didn't read it in translation. I requested if through inter-library loan, but the queue was so long I wanted to bang my head against the wall in frustration.)
The Spanish cover is also very pretty. Maybe the prettiest cover of them all. It's very feminine, and I love the detail of her ball gown, but there's still a hint of her being a cyborg in the exposed leg. I love the red bow on the back of her skirt which recalls the red font of the author's name. Very nicely done.