A Fairy Tale for the Postmodern Fangirl: Marissa Meyer’s Cinder
In Cinder, Marissa Meyer has concocted a genre-blender that will have you steeped in nerdy fangirl glee for hours. An amalgamation of a reinterpreted fairy tale, dystopian sci-fi, and a space opera, this book managed to hit every note that made my middle-school years sing. Think Joss Whedon's "Firefly" meets the anime "Cowboy Bebop" meets elements of I, Robot.
This young adult novel, book one of The Lunar Chronicles, follows the story of Linh Cinder, a talented mechanic peddling her trade in New Beijing. It is a future city crowded with humans and androids, living under the ever-present fear of leutomosis, a mysterious disease that has ravaged the population.
As with most heroines, Cinder possesses a past and a uniqueness that separates her from the rest. She is a cyborg -- with mechanical parts composing nearly a third of her body. Thus, she's a second-class citizen reviled by many in society, including her stepmother. But when the dashing Prince Kai pays a visit to Cinder's mechanical shop, she suddenly finds herself caught at the center of planetary politics, conspiracies, and intrigue. Cinder must navigate these dangers that will eventually bring answers to the many mysteries of her own past. And, oh yes, there is romantic entanglement, too.
More than a prototypical fairy-tale retelling, Cinder is a clever, original homage to one of the most popular anime series of all time, "Sailor Moon." And it is written as only a tried and true fan of that storyline could: a missing lunar princess, a noble earthling prince, and a dangerous otherworldly empress plotting her malicious designs against two worlds.
To love this book is to have a penchant for sci-fi. But not just any type of sci-fi; it helps to love imagining a future where Asian and Western influences fuse into a hybrid culture -- where technological advances make robots sentient, space travel normal, and magic seem scientific.
And finally to love this book is to appreciate a fairy tale made for the postmodern gadget girl. For once, Cinderella is not a victim of circumstance or a passive pawn in greater schemes. She's scrappy, smart, and can fix your car as quickly as she can attract a prince.