Egalley thanks to Macmillan Children's Publishing Group
What an absolutely gorgeous book! Don't be fooled by sci-fi elements and futuristic setting, at heart Cinder is a true fairy-tale.
Oh, if I could hug this book, I would!
Utterly fascinating environment. New Bejing is a megapolis of the future with hover transportation, androids, gadgets and a monarchy loved in a way unique to Asian culture. There is darkness and fear in that city as an invincible plague takes its citizens one by one. It's been a few years since the disease appeared and so far there is no cure.
You get the rash, and you or anyone around you has to call the medics immediately. You disappear behind quarantine never to be seen again.
Cinder is part cyborg living with her stepmom and two stepsisters: an evil, self-absorbed older one, and a pretty kind and cheerful younger one. The stepmom is the epitome of any Cinderella's stepmom. Cinder works on the market as a mechanic and supports them all with the money she earns.
Cinder's character was fantastic and full of contrasts. Kind and sarcastic, vulnerable in her personal life and self-assured in her work. She is vulnerable because cyborgs are not free, anything they earn, their own life belongs to their guardians. Cinder deals with prejudice all her life because cyborgs are not considered people.
When Kai meets her, she is rude and abrasive. She pushes him away because he doesn't know she is a cyborg and she is afraid of how he'll look at her when he finds out.
Kai is utterly charming. Honest, lively, he sees a pretty, clever girl, who doesn't fawn all over him and with whom he can forget his troubles of his dying father and pressures of interplanetary politics. Despite Cinder's attempts to avoid him, they keep bumping into each other and have amusing dialogues.
If you think this is a simple love story, you are mistaken. Nothing is simple in this book. There are multiple layers, fight with the plague, secret enemies and unexpected friends, an evil Queen and an impending war...
The ending is a huge cliffhanger, and now I really want to know what's going to happen next, because Marissa's writing makes you doubt that this Cinderella story will ever have its happily ever after.