Cinder by Marissa Meyer

For starters, I just spent my life savings on a new foot. But even if I did have money, why would I spend it on a dress or shoes or gloves? What a waste.

Once upon a time in the future, Cinder, a young cyborg, is a mechanic in New Beijing with a step-mother and two step-sisters. One step-sister is Peony, a sweet girl, and the other, Pearl, a horrid troll. Cinder supports her family with money earned from her mechanic business, known to be the best in the city.

The story opens as Cinder is unscrewing her old too-small mechanical foot. As she detaches it, sighing with relief, the Prince arrives at her booth with an android that needs to be fixed. As the story unfolds further, we learn that city is wracked with plague victims, there is a cyborg draft to test the plague antidotes, and Earth is in danger from invasion from a jealous queen on the moon.

This fun twist on the Cinderella story is a really enjoyable read. Cinder is a compassionate, intelligent and independent young cyborg lady. I really liked how she and the Prince first met. It wasn’t the Prince saving Cinder from certain death (as it is in many versions); she’s a skilled businesswoman and he comes to her for help. For all intents and purposes, they’re equals. This sets the stage for the rest of the book and gives us an idea of how the author sees the Cinderella fable.

Though the story still tiptoes along the lines of ‘Will she make it to the ball?’, the reason for her being there is not a wish upon a star or a fairy godmother. If you read Cinder, you’ll see, there’s a lot more to this fairy tale than wands and glass slippers.

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