Fairytales, 21st Century Style

cb4ab9a9733059f59754d516a41444341587343Cinder by Marissa Meyer ★★★★
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy/Science Fiction
Source: National Library OverDrive Collection
Series: The Lunar Chronicles (1 of 4)
Edition: Macmillan Audio (2012), Unabridged MP3; 10h02
Original publication date: 2012

Lots of people I like and respect in the Library Thing group I’m most active on have taken a great liking for this series in the last couple of years, but still, I was skeptical: YA/Fantasy/Sci-Fi are three categories that are always iffy at best with me, with no dependable formula to rely on to guide me on whether any given book in those genres is likely to work for me or not, and to be honest I was seriously skeptical about this one in particular. Well, I needn’t have worried, because the overall effect worked its charm on me. Loosely based on the classic fairy tale of Cinderella, our heroine, here renamed Cinder, is a cyborg and the best young mechanic in New Beijing in a dystopian new world which has been rebuilt following WWIV.

According to the author Marissa Meyer, the first version of Cinderella was written in China in the 9th century, where small feet were considered sexy, so she wanted to bring the story full circle by setting it in China again, only this time she plays around with the small shoe trope, because from the very first moment we meet Cinder, she’s fitted herself out with a new mechanical foot to replace the previous one, which was much too small, so right from the beginning, you know our heroine is a take-charge kinda girl who isn’t going to wait around for her fairy godmother to make the magic happen for her. All the other elements are there: the Charming Prince, only in this case he insists Cinder call him by his first name, Kai and practically hounds her so she’ll accompany him to the ball, which she’s determined not to got to even though he’s undeniably attractive; the evil stepmother, who treats Cinder like the second-class citizen she is, because cyborgs don’t have rights like normal human beings do in this society, and who at one point commands Cinder to leave her foot in the hall in a bit of surrealistic sadism, and of course the ball itself which Cinder ends up attending, but not just so she can capture to prince’s heart, which she’s done already without trying to, but so she can save the earth from the threat of the Lunars and their Evil Queen, who threatens to dominate humanity with her mind-control form of totalitarianism.

This story is full of surprising twists and turns, and for one expecting just a few quirky takeoffs on a familiar tale, it’s like a ride around a theme-park on a strong dose of LSD. There’s no denying it’s a fairy tale first and foremost and a teen one at that, so that suspension of disbelief must be set in place so the show can magically go on. But I joined along in the proper spirit, wanting to be fully entertained, and so the magic worked on me too. End result: I was charmed, and I’ve now put the second book,  on hold at the library. Perfect summer reading fun. Getting it ‘free’ (i.e. on my tax dollar) helps too, I won’t lie.

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