I’m going to be honest, when I first heard of The Lunar Chronicles series I didn’t have much interest in reading it. The retelling of fairy tales has been so overdone that I didn’t really want to hear yet another version of Cinderella. Then, while browsing my library’s collection of audiobooks, I stumbled across Cinder and decided to give it a go.
For those of you who haven’t read this book, it’s about a girl named Cinder, who is a teenage cyborg living in New Beijing. Following the traditional story of Cinderella, Cinder lives with her stepmother, Adri, and her two stepsisters, Peony and Pearl. Cinder is a mechanic who works at a local street market to earn her keep. That is where she meets Kai, the dashing prince of New Beijing. He requests that she fixes his android, Nainsi, and this is where things get interesting. Oh, there’s also a deadly plague! And a lunar queen who may or may not be evil. Sorry, I’m really bad at summaries. You’ll just have to read the book to learn more.
Spoilers ahead! You’ve been warned.
Okay, OKAY. Let’s just get this out of the way: When we first meet Adri, I was ready to punch her in the face. Up until… we meet Queen Levana, then I wanted to punch her in the face. Man, such terribleness, such evil.
I thought that it was refreshing for Cinder to have a good relationship with one of her stepsisters, but, of course, then that sister had to die. Unfortunately, as happy as I was that Cinder had a “nice” stepsister, I wasn’t attached enough to Peony to mourn her death. I wasn’t even attached enough to Cinder for that matter. Speaking of Peony’s death, I found it unnecessarily coincidental that she died just as Cinder was arriving with the antidote. The timing was too perfect. I understand it from a literary standpoint, but meh.
When we discover that Cinder was a lunar, I was surprised.
When we discover that Cinder is the princess, I wasn’t surprised at all, which was disappointing. The minute we heard about a lost lunar princess was the minute I knew it must be Cinder. It’s pretty impossible to have a girl (Cinder) with an unknown past as the main protagonist alongside the *mystery* of a missing princess (in a Cinderella retelling no less) without giving it away.
My two favorite scenes in this book are my favorites for two very different reasons:
-My first favorite is the dinner scene with Queen Levana and the mirror incident. I love it because when I was listening to the audiobook, I was physically cringing. I couldn’t take it. When words have such a strong effect on a reader, it’s hard not to appreciate it.
-My second favorite is the elevator scene between Cinder and Kai. This scene had me smiling so hard. I loved the tension. And I loved how this tension wasn’t forced by insta-love. Cinder and Kai’s relationship felt so natural. Unlike the original Cinderella, the prince didn’t pick the girl out of a crowd of, let’s face it, equally beautiful women. Kai simply met Cinder at the market, they talked, became sort of friends, and it blossomed from there. IT WAS REALISTIC and I loved it.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I gave it 4/5 stars on Goodreads. I would have given it five stars, but I couldn’t due to the predictable “twist” at the end and the non-ending ending. This book wouldn’t be able to stand on its own, and although I love series, I think that books within a series should still be able to stand alone.