Lunar Chronicles #1. Author: Marissa Meyer.
In a futuristic world sleek with hover-cars and androids, yet devastated by plague and threatened by the lunar queen, a sarcastic female mechanic is swept up into palace intrigue against her will. When the prince urgently requests her aid in fixing a droid carrying classified secrets hours before her stepsister falls ill with the deadly plague, the chain of events is set in motion. Cinder will have to fight for her liberty, learn the forgotten secrets of her own past, and confront who she really is. And decide, in the end, whether there is anything she, a cyborg teenager, can do to save her country from the cruel lunar queen’s plots.
Sharp, clear prose is the initial building block of this re-told fairy tale, followed by three-dimensional characters, dynamic dialogue, and a convoluted plot. This is Cinderella as you’ve never heard it before.
Cinder combines science fiction, dystopia, and fairy tale into one package, and does it without feeling strained or over-packed. The first convention broken is that it’s set in Europe. The second, that the main character is not beautiful. And for a third, she and the love interest don’t fall in love instantly; by the end of the book they haven’t admitted to anything, although seeds are there.
Cinder is an independent protagonist, what I would call a real ‘strong heroine’. Although she may not be the best action-hero, she can take care of herself. Under the trials of an unkind stepmother and binding circumstances, she carries on, mostly without losing her temper or composure. And although any number of elements are different from the original Cinderella, the change I found most striking? There is no fairy godmother. Cinder will go on her own strength of will, find her own way, and carry it all off without the beautifying help of a fairy. Now, that’s what I consider a strong heroine.
Sexual content: Girls are fitted with low-necked, tight-waisted ball gowns. Doctor commenting on body scans says she can be glad her reproductive system is intact – most female cyborgs are infertile. Android wonders whether the prince’s personal android has seen him in the nude. Some low-level flirting between characters. Droid suggests about a broken android “Maybe her programming was broken down by the prince’s uncanny hotness.” One kiss. Two instances of brief innuendo concerning Escort droids, androids with ideal female forms.
Language: Three instances of variation on d***.
Violence: Nightmare about burning alive. Character strikes two droids trying to take her away, is electrocuted and removed by another. Character attacks and breaks a med droid. Character cuts an ID chip from a dead body’s wrist. One car wreck in which no one is hurt. Knowledge of the cyborg draft, which is involuntary and random.