Once in a while, and I have been lucky lately, a book comes long that fulfills the promise it makes. Cinder is such a book. At once a fairytale, and also a science fiction book, it is the story of the Commonwealth’s greatest mechanic, a partially cyborg 18 yr old girl named Cinder, who is the stepdaughter of a nasty, vindictive woman, who holds her guardianship after the man who saved her (her guardian’s husband) died, and her two stepdaughters, one kind, Peony, and the other cruel, Pearl. They make Cinder work, so they don’t have to, living in poverty, but putting on airs of a higher status. One day, a handsome young man comes to her booth at the market, and asks if she can repair his android – it is vital. It is the Prince in disguise. And so she says she’ll help him. Now very young girl in the Commonwealth is secretly in love with the prince, and Cinder is really no different, so she tries to hide the fact that she is a cyborg. But a nasty plague is consuming the kingdom and soon consumes those around the Prince and Cinder. And she is drafted by her stepmother to be a test subject for an antidote they are working on. Usually the “volunteers” die, but somehow Cinder does not. And so the adventure begins – twists and turns, an evil queen seeking to marry the prince, a secret long lost Princess of Luna who could overthrow the Queen, and a possible cure for the devastating plague. But this seems to be only the first stop in this riotous, funny, tender homage to fairytales. I can’t wait for more. Minor characters take on life, and you care about them, as well as our hero and heroine. The setting is intriguing, New Beijing, centuries after WWIII, and WWIV, and after a Lunar colony has been established on the moon, had time to grow, and now is a threat. The attention to detail is amazing, and you cheer for Cinder, and cry with her, and generally get all the feelings that a good fairy tale evokes. Since I spent countless Saturday morning hours cozied up in my bed with one of Andrew Lang’s fairy books, this one was a breath of fresh air and a glimpse of my past. Highly recommended if you have ever liked fairy stories. I simply can not do it justice.
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