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The Monster Librarian Presents:
Science Fiction and Steampunk for Young Adults
Cinder by Marissa Meyer, read by Rebecca Soler
Macmillan Audio/Macmillan Young Listeners, 2012
ISBN: 9781427215000 (CD audio)
Available: New unabridged CD/Hardback/Kindle ebook
Cinder is a retelling of the classic fairy tale, but it is not the “Cinderella” from your childhood or from the landmark animated film. It is the first of four books in The Lunar Chronicles series; future volumes will deal with “Little Red Riding Hood”, “Rapunzel”, and “Snow White.” Meyer’s debut novel includes all the relevant elements of the original fairy tale: a teenage girl trying to find herself while dealing with a cruel stepmother and step-sisters, a missing ‘shoe’(sort of), an upcoming royal ball, and a romance-minded prince who doesn’t know who the main character really is. But the story also deals with prejudice, plague, and politics, all taking place on a futuristic Earth more than 100 years after a devastating World War IV.
Cinder is a 16-year old cyborg mechanic in New Beijing, capital city of the Asian Commonwealth, which is suffering from economic difficulties and a deadly plague. Not only are cyborgs considered second-class citizens, but Cinder is the unwanted legal ward of Audrey, a woman with two daughters of her own. Audrey is the widow of Garan, the scientist who found, repaired, and adopted Cinder as a child. Shortly before the highly anticipated royal ball, Prince Kai, future ruler of the Commonwealth, asks Cinder to fix a family android. Kai seems attracted to her but Cinder knows he would reject her if he knew she was a cyborg, so she doesn’t enlighten him. Kai has his own problems to deal with; his father is dying from the Letumosis plague and he is in the midst of tense interplanetary negotiations with the kingdom of Luna. He must contend with the powerful, cruel, and ambitious Queen Levana who is intent on marriage to seal the pact.
The publisher provided a digital advanced listening copy to review before the January 3rd release. The narrator is Rebecca Soler, who some may recognize from other YA audio titles such as Angel: a Maximum Ride Novel by James Patterson and Monster High: Freaks & Shrieks by Lisi Harrison. Soler provides Cinder with an appropriate young voice and gives subtle, yet distinctive voices to the other characters with her fully-voiced reading.
Cinder is a strong female character, and the political trials of Prince Kai lend appealing complications. The chapters are short, the pacing is fast, and Soler’s reading is entertaining and effective, but I found the mystery behind Cinder’s origin rather obvious. The intended audience is teens, age 13 and up but I believe adults will also enjoy the story and I recommend it for all public libraries.
Similar alternate fairy tales might be the ABC television series “Once Upon a Time”, and the YA titles “Midnight Pearls: a Retelling of ‘The Little Mermaid’" by Debbie Viguie and “Troll Bridge: a Rock 'n' Roll Fairy Tale” by Jane Yolen.
Reviewed by: Lucy Lockley, the RAT Queen
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