Recommended Age: 13+
Genres: Science Fiction
Tags: fairy tale, romance, magic, royalty, sisters, social media, war
- Mild violence: descriptions of death, neglect, and removal of free will.
- Mild sexuality: brief kissing
- Mild language: threats, verbal abuse.
This futuristic spin on a classic fairy tale centers around a cyborg mechanic who ends up in her own version of Cinderella, though it has notable differences from the traditional story. Cinder doesn’t remember her childhood, she only remembers waking up from surgery after an accident that cost her both her parents, as well as some of her limbs and organs. Now she is 30% technology, which comes in handy when she is overwhelmed or upset because she can neither cry nor blush.
But discrimination against cyborgs is surprisingly strong for a futuristic setting, and being a cyborg orphan means that Cinder’s stepmother is more of her owner than guardian. In the midst of a rampant pandemic, Cinder finds herself as an unwilling test subject. But being a test subject in the palace leads to more questions than answers, and Cinder finds herself uncovering more secrets than she expected, especially secrets about her past.
Cinder is very distinct from the traditional Cinderella character. Her feet are metal and she has wires in her heart, and she uses her cyborg abilities to become an amazing mechanic. The world building is off to a good start in this first book and definitely builds as the author tackles a different fairy tale in each new installment of the series.
Levana, the Evil Queen type villain, uses her power and influence to shape the world as she desires. She’s very opposite of Cinder and the balance between them is a great hero/villain dynamic. Levana rules the people of the moon, which brings both aspects of space travel and magic to the story. The story is set in New Bejing, a Japanese style city on Earth that harbors a deep mistrust of Lunars (Levana and her citizens) and their magic. The author clearly used this book as a love story to the cultures and stories that influenced her creativity.
Cinder’s new friendship with the royal doctor leads her to discover more about the pandemic and how it started, as well as her role in this war. Her time at the palace also allows her to grow a friendship with Prince Kai, especially after she fixes his favorite android. Cinder has an android as well, who happens to be her only friend up to now, and acts as the fanciful dreamy perspective to balance out Cinder’s practical outlook on life.
Fairy tales are constantly being reworked into new stories, and this cyborg/space travel approach to our favorite classics is a fun way to explore old adventures in a new light.
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