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Growing up, I don’t think there was anything I enjoyed more than a classic fairy tale, and, of course, watching Disney Princess television shows and movies! There are a plethora of fairy tales for all ages, yet Cinderella’s folktale is known by almost everyone, begging the question: why? This rags to riches tale initially originated in Europe. Since then, the Brothers Grimm have adopted and published their version, following similar themes to other variants. On that note, “Cinderella” has themes that can teach young children good vs. evil, kindness to all, luck, and more. From the conflict of having an evil stepmother and two stepsisters to talking animals and a Fairy Godmother, it has undoubtedly been one of my favorites. Now, imagine reading a book that modernizes Cinderella's tale while weaving in a sci-fi twist. Cinder by Marissa Meyer is a revolutionary and futuristic book based on “Cinderella.” However, while Cinder’s life may seem similar to Cinderella’s story, unlike the fairy tale, Cinder does not end happily-ever-after.

Linh Cinder, the main protagonist, is a cyborg who struggles to stay on her stepmother’s ‘good side’ while dreaming of a better life. Unfortunately for her, she lives in New Beijing: a chaotic and uptight city bearing the memories of World War 4, and that discriminates between humans and pretty much everyone who is not human. Cinder makes it past each day with her trusty android friend while being forced to use her expertise in mechanics to make money for her greedy stepmother. One day, Prince Kai, the Prince of the Eastern Commonwealth, finds Cinder and asks her to fix his android. After meeting Prince Kai, our protagonist starts to find change in her life. From attending a ball to engaging in a duel with the evil Queen Levana of Luna—the moon colony—Cinder’s life is far from peaceful. Following Prince Kai’s secretive public appearance, an outbreak of Letumosis breaks out during the middle of the day. Letumosis is a deadly disease, and researchers are yet to find a cure. As Emperor Rikan of the Eastern Commonwealth surrenders to Letumosis, Queen Levana tries to find a way to take Earth by storm. It is up to Cinder to protect Prince Kai from the dangers of the mind-controlling Lunar Queen. Although the plot seems relatively easy to follow, Meyer adds a surplus of side events that stray away from the main storyline and helps set the scene. While there aren’t any direct references to Cinderella, there are some similar elements.

Cinder is very different from any other book I have read. Although I could predict the result of some of the many plot twists, the overall storyline kept me engaged. All in all, Cinder’s overall personality brightens the book while Iko, her android friend, sprinkles sarcasm and humor. On that note, the characters guide the reader through Cinder’s spiraling life and crazy cliff-hangers. Overall, Cinder is a book I could read over and over again.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer. Square Fish, 2020. Buy the book here and help support Stone Soup in the process!

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