“Kai cleared his throat. Stood straighter. “I assume you are going to the ball?”
“I-I don’t know. I mean, no. No, I’m sorry, I’m not going to the ball.”
Kai drew back, confused. “Oh well… but… maybe you would change your mind? Because I am, you know.”
“Not bragging,” he said quickly. “Just a fact.”
This is not quite the Cinderella you’re familiar with.
It seemed like a little while back everyone I knew was reading this book, and most of them loved it. So when faced with the re-telling of a fairy tale slot for my 2016 Reading Challenge, this seemed to be the right fit for me. I mean it’s dystopian, Cinderella is a cyborg, there are aliens (well, Lunars, who live on the moon and aren’t quite human any more), even an evil queen!
“Lunars were a society that had evolved from an Earthen moon colony centuries ago, but they weren’t human anymore. People said Lunars could alter a person’s brain—make you see things you shouldn’t see, feel things you shouldn’t feel, do things you didn’t want to do. Their unnatural power had made them a greedy and violent race, and Queen Levana was the worst of all of them.”
I liked this story. Some of the science made me arch my brows a bit, and I had a little trouble with suspension of disbelief in places. The author is a good storyteller, though, and was able to craft a tale that drew me in. The writing is okay, but falls flat in a few places.
The story, while based on the original, does depart from the fairy tale in pretty significant ways. For one, Prince Kai and Cinder become acquainted well before the ball, and there is no search for her afterwards. There’s no lost shoe, no combing the countryside. There’s an evil stepmother and one evil and one nice stepsister… except not really. Though the step term is used throughout the book, it’s inaccurate; they are adoptive parents/guardians (the father, now deceased, included) and that bothered me for a number of reasons, not just plot-based. Adoptive parents face a real struggle to be seen as “real” parents, not “step” anything (not that step parents aren’t real as well), and i know many that would take huge offense at this label being applied to them. It was very awkward and made me quite squirmy and uncomfortable while reading.
I do kind of like the fact that Cinder is her own fairy godmother of sorts, saving herself and getting her own behind to the ball, right down to fixing up an old car as her transport.
“I’m not sure I would label it a ‘survivor,'” said Iko, her sensor darkening with disgust. “It looks more like a rotting pumpkin.”
There were some interesting twists in the story, including post-WWIV diplomacy amongst nations and Lunars, the android sidekick/bestie, the prejudice against cyborgs in the society, and most particularly the details of a plague that has been decimating the population and recently killed the emperor. There’s also a palace doctor who has been investigating the plague, who is one of the more interesting minor characters in the book.
“Were there many sick people in Europe that you recall? Any notable outbreaks in your province?”
“I don’t know. I don’t actually remember anything before the surgery.”
His eyebrows rose, his blue eyes sucking in all the light of the room. “The cybernetic operation?”
“No, the sex change.”
The doctor’s smile faltered.
I found this to be entertaining, but not spectacular. I’m still undecided as to whether or not I’ll be reading any more of the series. If you like dystopia mixed with princess stories, this might be for you. If you aren’t super fond of that idea, you may want to give this one a pass.