Once upon a time, there lived a girl who had an evil stepmother and lived with her two stepsisters. She worked tirelessly and was treated harshly. One night, her stepmother and sister went to the ball to meet the prince. The girl, having found a gown to wear, also went. There, she danced with the prince and they fell in love with each other. But she had to leave, and she fled the palace, leaving not a glass slipper but a metal foot.
Because this is not the story of Cinderella.
This is a story about a girl named Cinder. And she is a cyborg.
I have to give points to Marissa Meyer for her creativity in writing Cinder. A sci-fi rendition of a classic fairy tale. Who could’ve thunk it?
I wish there is more description concerning the characters. I understand that describing the character’s personality and attitude is more important but I had trouble constructing Cinder in my mind because I wasn’t entirely sure how she looked like (I know this is such a nit-picky detail, but I kind of want to know what colour her hair is). Okay, she’s a cyborg. Got it. But does this mean that only her hand and foot is made of non-human material? How exactly does she have a retina display that doesn’t alert other people, when they’re looking at her, that she isn’t human? It’s difficult for me to ‘see’ Cinder with so few details.
There are some parts of the plot that I thought the book doesn’t need, such as the conferences Kai had with the other members of the board. It felt long and drawn-out.
Cinder is likeable with her resourcefulness. A brave mechanic who is struggling to find a place in a world where the very essence of who she is is rejected by different societies. I was a little bit disappointed that she didn’t use her cyborg capabilities to their fullest extent. She just lets her programming take over: her lie detector, the retina scanner etc., rather than exploring what her cyborg abilities are and how she can utilise them to her advantage. Is this perhaps because she’s subconsciously rejecting her cyborg self?
There is nothing wrong with Kai. He’s funny and determined and clearly attracted to Cinder. I just did not find him memorable enough. Which may be purposeful: it allows me to direct all of my attention to Cinder rather than the prince and how he will save her.
As for Levana, although she is the antagonist, I didn’t feel the full weight of how evil she is. Throughout the book, she is seen as more of an ominous presence. Until, I read about how she withdrew the antidote from Kai until his father died; then I felt like reaching inside the book and strangling her.
The problem with adding your own spin to a classic is whether to adhere to the format of that classic or take it to a whole different direction. At some points, the plot of the story was obvious simply because it is inspired by Cinderella: losing her foot, a ball etc. With that being said, Cinder is not going to be mistaken for a princess stereotype. In fact, she takes the word princess, tinkers with it and creates a whole different image for herself.