It’s little wonder that Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles are so popular. I’ve just finished Cinder, and it was not at all what I expected: fresh and original, while gritty and intense.
In this retelling of the classic fairytale, Cinderella–or, as we now know her, Cinder–is dropped into a futuristic setting on the other side of the planet. Oh: She’s also a cyborg. With the help of Dr. Erland (who takes the place of fairy godmothers of old), Cinder must save Prince Kai from marrying Queen Levana, a mysterious Moon-dweller with sinister powers. If she’s too late, Kai’s life will be in jeopardy, and the Earth will soon be at war with Luna. Will Cinder’s intelligence, capability, and snark be enough to get her to the ball in time?
Meyer expertly blends pieces of history, fairy tales, and science fiction to create an original tale with rich history. The parallels are myriad: the Bubonic Plague becomes letumosis, Anastasia Romanov becomes the lost princess of Luna, and attributes of Firefly‘s Kaylee Frye are given to Cinder. (I always loved Kaylee, and I like a female heroine with useful life skills–and what’s more useful than a cyborg who also happens to be the best mechanic in New Beijing?)
While the story is compelling, what’s truly remarkable about this book isn’t it’s tapestry of inspiration; rather, Cinder‘s crowning jewel is its presentation of timely and controversial issues. The Lunar purging of “shells” forces one to contemplate genocide wherever it’s found. The treatment of cyborgs and androids mimics real-life racism, at the same time as raising questions about technology and what it means to be human. Meyer has harnessed the power of literature in the best way possible.
The ending is a satisfying cliffhanger that leaves me needing Scarlet and the rest like I need air. It’s going to be impossible to pace myself!
P.S.: Did you notice the Firefly reference in the title of this post? Did you? Anyone?