Based on the fact that this is my 3rd post of the week, I’m guessing it’s pretty obvious that I was stuck in bed with the flu for most of last weekend and had some extra time to read! As I prepared to review Scarlet [the second book of The Lunar Chronicles], however, I realized that I never reviewed Cinder [the first book of The Lunar Chronicles]. I decided to hold back my review of Scarlet until next week so I could first posted something about Cinder now. :-)
There are a lot of fairy tale retellings out there, but I was especially impressed by the fact that Cinder was both evocative of Cinderella and a major departure from the original story. In this story, Cinder is a 16-year-old cyborg who constantly works to support and care for her evil step-mother and her two step-sisters. She rarely has time for herself, but does her best not to complain because she knows her step-mother could easily “volunteer” her to be a test subject for letumosis [plague] vaccines instead. While working in her booth at the market place one afternoon, she finds herself face-to-face with Prince Kai. As it turns out, Cinder’s reputation as the best mechanic in New Beijing led Prince Kai to disguise himself so he could meet her and ask whether she would be willing and able to fix his droid, Nainsi, who suddenly stopped working.
Immediately after this clandestine meeting, though, Cinder’s entire life is turned upside-down because her step-sister Peony contracts letumosis and is put into quarantine. Not only is Cinder worried about losing one of the only people in the world who actually cares about her, but her step-mother is blaming her for Peony’s illness! Trying to balance her regular responsibilities, her promise to help Prince Kai, and her desire to help Peony, nevertheless, proves extremely difficult. And while many girls in New Beijing would give anything to dance with Prince Kai at the upcoming ball, Cinder couldn’t care less about attending… She has too many other things to worry about. Yeah — this is definitely *not* your typical Cinderella story.