Thursday, July 5, 2012

Cinderella, Cyborgs, and a Plague

Cinder: Book One in the Lunar Chronicles
My brother-in-law went to see Snow White and the Huntsmen a couple of weeks ago, and when he told us about it, he said it was "predictable". My response was, "It's Snow White you goof! What about that story don't  you know already?!" But then I went to see the movie and was blown away by how innovative and unique it was despite being a fairy tale we can all recite by memory. In fact, it was that experience that made me get over my preconceived notions about Marissa Meyer's Cinder: Book One of the Lunar Chronicles and just read it already. I mean, Cinderella and cyborgs? How much more creative can you get?!

Cinder is a cyborg: a person with machine parts. She has more machine than most cyborgs, but she suffers the same second-class citizen status as every cyborg. In fact, the cyborg draft solidifies their status as "non-humans" to the non-cyborg folk. It allows the government to draft cyborgs against their will to be used as guinea pigs in the race against the plague to find a cure. And no one seems to mind that the cyborgs never return from these tests. But the plague is threatening the very existence of the country... almost as much the Lunars are. Luna is the country that conquered life on the moon, but over generations, the Lunars have developed "powers" or the ability to control electro-magnetic pulses that can alter emotions, feelings, and perceptions. Now their crazy Queen wants to make an alliance with the kingdoms on earth and she isn't afraid to bully or blackmail her way in. 

But Cinder's life is a lot less complicated. Not a lovely life by any means, but less complicated. She goes to work, the money she earns goes to support her stepmother and stepsisters (only one of which is awful), and she tries to hide her cyborg parts as carefully as possible. But when the crowned Prince Kai comes to her booth for help with an android, she is more worried than ever about someone learning of her cyborg parts. When the plague hits too close to home, Cinder is sent to the labs for experiments, but the results are nothing she could ever have dreamed of. Now, she is more than just a cyborg outcast, but her lot in life is no easier. Especially when all she wants is Prince Kai, a desire she won't even allow herself to dream about because there is no way a man in line for the throne who could have any girl he wanted would ever want to love a cyborg... or is there?

OK. Let's get this out in the open. Marissa Meyer is a bloody genius! Who would have ever thought to make Cinderella into a cyborg? And if you think you are going to go into this book to find something predictable, you are totally mistaken! This is an old, well-known story that has been taken, stripped to its bare elements, and transformed into something FANTASTIC! It is Cinderella like you have never seen before, and you will love what Meyer has done to the story. Take the fairy tale element away and this is still a phenomenal story. First, I love the twists on the old story Meyer has created. Cinder's character is every bit as lovely as Cinderella, complete with the same issues and troubles, but her situation is even more dire than before. With the plague and the division of the cyborgs, she couldn't be more of an outcast. Then you have the strong science-fiction element with the androids and Cinder's family's droid Iko who has a personality chip that makes her more person than machine but completely unwanted for it. And the prince? Oh Kai is fantastic. He would even submit himself to the most awful of situations to save and protect his people. It is no wonder everyone loves Kai! I know I did!

This is a great story for any strong middle reader through adult reader. It has a brilliant Science Fiction twist on your tried and true fairy tale, and you will be thrilled to have it on your shelves. Don't let yourself be discouraged by "Cyborg Cinderella" like I was. This story is so much more than that. This is a book that would appeal to a wide range of readers from your SF junkies to your dystopian fans to the average modern lit readers. Trust me. This isn't one to ignore! And with the way the story ended, you will be dying to get ahold of the next three books in the Lunar Chronicles!

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