In the city of New Beijing, sixteen-year-old cyborg Linh Cinder spends her days fixing androids and repairing machines as the city's most renowned mechanic. Stifled by the revulsion of her stepmother and deprived of any rights of her own, any aspirations of freedom are smothered by the reality of what she is: a cyborg, an orphan, and an outcast.
Meanwhile, a deadly plague ravages the world. On the moon, a ruthless lunar society, led by a tyrannical queen, seeks to dig its talons into the Earthen Union by threatening inter-galactic war. Cinder is just a cyborg- irrelevant, insignificant. Or so she thinks. But when a twist of fate brings her face to face with the plague, war, and handsome Prince Kai, her past may hold the answer to earth's most desperate threat... and being cyborg is suddenly the least of her problems.
Cinder, a sci-fi fairy-tale fantasy, is the first book in Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles series, and a personal favourite of mine. The high-stakes plot, complex world-building, fabulously genuine protagonist and astoundingly beautiful writing are just some of the factors it has going for it, but by no means an exhaustive list. The story is set in a post-World War IV world complete with advanced android technology and world peace, but though there is a certain Star Wars feel to it, Marissa Meyer's world still rings true as our own dear, familiar planet earth. Through this literary feat, Meyer creates a world that is somehow both shockingly fresh and tangibly familiar.
Cinder herself is a strong female protagonist with believable vulnerabilities. Jaded by a life beneath her cruel stepmother's thumb, she's sarcastic and quick-witted, often with hilarious commentary, while still being self-conscious and slightly awkward, especially when it comes to Prince Kai. She also favours cargo pants, work gloves and messy ponytails, which is probably one of the things I love most about her. All in all, she is a very believable character, while still being fascinating, capable, and powerful as a protagonist.
Plot-wise, Cinder is also a win. As the first book in the series, it's not the most action-packed of all the installments, but while establishing the world Meyer teases the reader with hints and plot twists that keep us constantly guessing, and act as a springboard for the next stories. This book is the foundation of the series and the story of The Lunar Chronicles' most pivotal character. In my opinion, it would be next to impossible to read this book without moving on to the next!
I would recommend this book to anyone searching for an impossible-to-put-down fiction experience, especially to fans of fairy-tales or futuristic stories like Star Wars. Riveting, mysterious, dynamic, funny, and mind-blowing to the end, it's the ultimate kick-off to an awesome series, and is definitely worth the read!