Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1)
Cinder, a gifted mechanic in New Beijing, is also a cyborg. She's reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister's sudden illness. But when her life becomes entwined the handsome Prince Kai's she finds herself at the centre of a violent struggle between the desires of an evil queen - and a dangerous temptation.
Cinder is caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal. Now she must uncover secrets about her mysterious past in order to protect Earth's future.
Cinder was my Anna and the French Kiss of 2012: the book that everyone else had already read and already raved about. With Anna, I wish I'd have picked it up sooner. With Cinder... I liked it, but I wasn't blown away.
The concept is interesting. I like fairytale re-tellings, and this one has such an intriguing twist on it: Cinder is a cyborg mechanic, living in a post-World-War-4 world in the Eastern Commonwealth, an amalgam of (what we would recognise today as) Asian countries under one emperor. The setting, however, seemed a little wasted - for great swathes of the novel it seemed like New Beijing could have been absolutely anywhere, just another huge, built up city surviving on advanced technology.
As a character, I liked Cinder, and in particular I liked her relationship with Iko, the android. Prince Kai I could take or leave as a love interest. I found Dr. Erland, who is using Cinder as a test subject for the disease that affects her stepsister and is killing hundreds of citizens, much more interesting, and though his story starts to come out towards the end, I would hope it gets expanded on in the later books.
I found the book as a whole pretty exciting, a fast read that as it got towards the end had me racing through the pages. However, the end is where my biggest problem with the book lies. The "secret" that is revealed is pretty obvious the whole way through (I won't mark out the page where I figured it out, but it was before page 50), and even assuming this is the author's intention... I felt like the clues were too obvious, and by the end I was so annoyed that none of the characters were aware of it that I was rapidly losing interest. I'm all for dramatic tension, but this just made me want to shake the characters.
Nevertheless, there were plenty of interesting elements: the interplanetary tensions, Cinder's battles with her family, the mirroring of the Cinderella story (I particularly liked the old car as "pumpkin"). I enjoyed the book more towards the end, and the final scene makes me want to read the next instalment.
(As a side note: I lost count of how many times characters "craned" their necks or their heads in this book. Odd but true.)
Overall rating: 7/10
Book source: Borrowed from the local library.