Holy crap! This book is EVERYTHING youth science fiction should be and to be honest, it’s everything adult science fiction should be too. The plot is amazing. Cybernetic Cinderella in a post-apocalyptic plague-ridden world? YES PLEASE. I haven’t enjoyed a book to this degree since Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Everything is exactly perfect. The characters aren’t just real Human Beings, they are artfully crafted human beings who will consume your heart until you’re mentally yelling at the book that no, the evil queen couldn’t possibly get her way. Meyer brings the setting to life in dingy, over-crowded, vivid light. You can see Cinder in her cargo pants working on the prince’s android, the purple splotches that are the harbinger of plague and the silver light reflecting off of Peony’s dress. Meyer wrote this story in dazzling detail and that doesn’t even get to the action.
Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .
Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.
You know going into the story that it’s a Cinderella re-boot, so in the back of your mind there’s a tiny voice telling you that everything’s going to be okay. It whispers that she gets her happy ending. However, Meyer created this world filled with potential war and impossible political decisions and shoves Cinder into the middle of it so that you’re not completely sure that everything will work out okay. As a result of this, I could not turn the pages fast enough. I needed to know if Cinder would be okay or if the superbly evil queen would get her way and to be honest I’m literally vibrating in my chair as I write this because the energy from the book is still flooding through my system and my brain is trying to figure out when the next book comes out.
Oh! Oh! And another thing: Prince Kai. In the old fairy tales (we’ll go with the Disney version for the sake of the point since in the Grimm version someone usually ends up blind or turned into sea foam) there’s very little character development with regards to Prince Charming. We’re just supposed to automatically buy in that he’s a solid, upstanding gentleman who is capable of falling in love and not being a total douche-canoe after the wedding (Beauty and the Beast being the one exception that I can think of off the top of my head). Meyer, however, made me adore Kai. She made him into a real Human Being, but she also made him into the kind of guy you want to protect because they really don’t come around all that often. I invested in him as much as I invested in Cinder which only served to make me care that much more about how two people could survive in such a horrifying world. I was practically willing the words on the page to turn into Happily Ever After. I needed them to have a happy ending because Meyer crafted them so incredibly artfully. It’s kind of rare for me to root for the Prince, but Meyer succeeded in spades.
(Seriously, it’s really hard for me to not start every paragraph with “Oh! Oh!” because those are the words that are preceding my every reason for why I love this book so much.)
The step-sisters. Normally both are completely onerous and in my life I’ve had zero qualms with loathing the both of them. Meyer’s re-imagining of this tale is magical, in no small part because of how she makes you love the littlest step-sister. She’s not horrible in any way. She’s just a tiny little ball of adorableness that you can’t help, but love. It adds such a depth to the story that at the core of it, there’s this tiny girl who wants nothing more than to dance with the prince. She softened the story a bit and acted as a mote of light shining through the gray of an overcrowded city.
In the end, this story blew my mind. It sucked me into the pages and didn’t let go once I’d finished. I know there’s a lot of talk about how amazing this book is and I have to tell you, they’re all right.
5 ink bottles and whatever fairy tales can be found on the shelf.