You came back! Not that I was worried or anything, I knew you would…
So as you know, the first in the series The Lunar Chronicles, is Cinder, affectionately named for our cyborg heroine. First let me just take a minute to talk about the cover art. I really love how the classic symbol of Cinderella, “dainty foot in pretty high heel” is meshed with the futuristic sci-fi-ness (yes I know that’s not technically a word, but it should be and I like it) of the cyborg leg. Perfection. Ok, back to the book. Cinder was adopted at age 11 after what was told to her to be a horrific hovercraft accident which killed both her parents and left her so damaged, the only way to save her life was with the use of cybernetics. Fitted with complex internal wiring, a computer mainframe, and a couple of mechanical appendages she has always felt different, ashamed of her cyborg status. Her adoptive father died of the plague shortly after bringing her home leaving her with his disgruntled wife and two children. Fast forward and Cinder is 16, a gifted mechanic and a despised member of the family. Her only joy comes from tinkering with anything mechanical, her trusted android friend, Iko, and the few and far between stolen moments of fun with her younger sister, Peony. Due to her stellar reputation as a mechanic, Cinder is commissioned by the handsome Prince Kai to fix his childhood android. (Insert instant sparks and fan-girling- Prince Kai definitely lives up to his “charming” predecessor).
Through a series of tragic events,Cinder is sold by her stepmother (yeah remember how cyborgs are treated like second class citizens?) for lab research at the royal lab to study the plague (which consequently is a death sentence). Meanwhile, Prince Kai is mourning the loss of his father, yet another victim of the plague while attempting to handle diplomatic relations with Queen Levana of Luna. Levana has threatened war on Earth unless her demands are met, mainly a marriage alliance with Prince (now Emperor) Kai.
“Why is this such a bad thing?” you may ask. Good question, I’ll go ahead and tell you. Levana is pretty ruthless. She is a merciless dictator on Lunar, filled with delusions of grandeur and Earthien domination. It is also widely rumored that Levana had her niece, Princess Selene murdered when she was only 3 years old in order to assume power of the throne (sounds like a peach huh?).
There are murmurings amongst both the Lunars and Earthiens that Selene escaped her attempted murder and was smuggled to Earth to be kept safe until she was old/strong enough to overthrow her aunt and assume her rightful place as Queen. You can understand Kai’s hesitation to enter into a holy union with this woman right? To sweeten the deal, Queen Levana offers Kai something he can’t refuse, a cure for the letumosis, the plague ravaging the world, if and only if he consents to marriage. In secret, Kai is desperately searching for Selene, the lost princess, in what seems a futile attempt to dethrone Levana. While being held in the royal lab, Cinder meets the enigmatic Dr. Erland, head of letumosis research who quickly becomes an ally, perhaps not fully trusted, but an ally none the less (which is pretty useful considering her mother just sold her off as a lab rat). With the help of Dr. Erland, Cinder begins to uncover frightening revelations from her mysterious past, challenging not just her self view, but her view of the world.
Can Cinder overcome the shock of learning her true identity, falling in love, and the murderous rage of Levana all while assuming the mantel she must wear to save the world?
Well I could tell you but I won’t, I’m going to insist you read for yourself and find out.
I promise you won’t be disappointed. Marissa keeps you enthralled from beginning to end with vivid imagery, action packed fight scenes, and the tummy fluttering feelings of new love. D
on’t be fooled by the YA genre, the plot is solid and the characters thoughtfully well written. You will be rooting for Cinder from page one, cheering for her triumphs, biting your nails when she comes under fire (sometimes literally), and heavy hearted with her losses. Come back next week to read my review of the next installment of The Lunar Chronicles, Scarlet.