Loosely based on the Cinderella fairy tale, the novel introduces us to Cinder as she's looking for a foot to replace the one that she's outgrown. As a cyborg, she is made up of many inhuman parts. Her leg, her arms. Even her central nervous system has been modified.
I really admire the author's way of making her main character so different from other teenagers of this futuristic world. Not only is she a cyborg, but she’s also forced to be the breadwinner of her adoptive mother and sisters. She works as a mechanic in the town square instead of doing what other teenage girls might enjoy. I believe many young adults can associate with the all the restrictions and rules her adoptive mother places on Cinder. All she truly wants is to be independent and be seen as a normal girl, despite all her physical flaws.
“Cinder. How fitting. Ashes. Dirt. Filth.” I really like this quote where someone is describing Cinder’s name. Her name literally means ashes, but I think the author is trying to make us see past the literal sense and witness her eventual rise from the ashes. Cinder is learning who she is and what she can do, and I think this transformation will be monumental in the books to come.
It's interesting that Cinder meets Prince Kai right at the beginning of the book. As he enlists her help to fix his android, they engage in an odd relationship. Cinder feels attracted to him but remains distant. Prince Kai is intrigued by this unique girl. When he invites her to be his personal guest at a grand ball, he still doesn’t know that she’s a cyborg since Cinder is hesitant to reveal herself. The dialogue between these two characters feels strenuous at times, but overall I believe they make a nice and believable couple.
Just for fun, I wanted to make a short list of the similarities/differences between Cinderella and Cinder.Of course, both books have Princes: Cinderella has her Prince Charming and Cinder has Prince Kai. As for the Fairy God-mother, she is replaced by Iko, Cinder’s android and helpful friend. Cinderella works as a maid for her step mother, while Cinder works as a mechanic for her adoptive mother. Instead of losing a glass slipper, Cinder loses her new Cyborg foot. Cinder also makes a grand entrance and arrives at the ball in a fixed-up old car instead of a pumpkin. And, obviously, Cinderella finishes with a happy ending but in Cinder’s case, the end will follow in the next books of the saga.
Despite the similarities, one of the reasons I like this novel so much is because the author didn’t necessarily concentrate on the original fairy tale story line. It’s not all about finding the perfect prince. Yes, there were many similarities, but the author is also telling us the story of a futuristic Earth that is being threatened by the special and magical race of human beings living on the moon. There is also the other problem where many humans are dying from the infectious disease of letumosis.
I'm a sucker for a fairy tale with a good ending, but even if this one doesn't end like normal one, I think it's a great beginning to an entertaining saga. The merging of a fairy tale within a science fiction realm is original and refreshing. I can think of a few modern film adaption of Cinderella but nothing comes close to Cinder.
Overall, I highly recommend this book. And please, if you notice any other similarities between the fairy tale and the book, please let me know!