My rating: 4 of 5 stars
As I mentioned in my review of Seraphina, I enjoy new takes on established mythologies, and Cinder is no exception. I mistakenly thought this was a "steampunk" version of the Cinderella story, but it is not; it's a sci-fi futuristic revisioning of the tale and so much more than that.
When discussing new takes on old stories with my students, we discuss the idea of "canon," the things you absolutely MUST have in a story to make the tale recognizable (i.e. if you're doing your own version of Batman, what do you need? What must every Batman tale have?). In addition to the titular character, Cinderella's cannon is:
- A wicked stepmother
- Two hateful stepsisters
- A prince
- A ball
- A "pumpkin" coach
- A "glass slipper"
- A fairy godmother
- Other assorted "helpers," sometimes of the animal variety.
Cinder manages to accomplish all of this in its futuristic universe, except (in order to view the spoiler, read the review directly on Goodreads here and click "view spoiler").[maybe the fairy godmother. I couldn't definitively place a fairy godmother character, except perhaps Dr. Erland. That's up for debate. I consider the android Iko to be a "helper" archetype. (hide spoiler)]
Some of the bits of canon are cleverer than others. When the issue of the ball arrives, it felt like a bit of a smack in the face with its lack of subtlety, but then I reminded myself that 1) it doesn't have to be subtle, and 2) we do HAVE to have a ball.
Cinder accomplishes so much more than "just" the fairy tale, though. It's a tale of politics and intrigue and a global society that still has second- (and third-) class citizens. It does end somewhat abruptly, so make sure you have the second book, Scarlet, on order.
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