Ever After, A Cinderella Story, Ella Enchanted. The list of Cinderella adaptations in books and films is seemingly endless. Fewer fairy tales have received so many renderings that I wonder if anything original can be done to the story about the servant girl turned princess. Of course, as often happens, I was wrong. Cinder by Marissa Meyer is a completely new and original take on the Cinderella story, and a quite enjoyable one at that.
In this retelling of the fairytale, which takes place in the future, Cinder is still the stepdaughter forced to do hard work to support the stepmother who hates her. This time, though, Cinder is not just the stepdaughter, she’s also a cyborg. After suffering a terrible accident as a child, parts of Cinder’s body were replaced with mechanical parts. As a cyborg, Cinder is considered a second-class citizen in her hometown of New Beijing, but she is a first rate mechanic. This is how she meets Kai, the prince of the kingdom. Kai comes to Cinder hoping she can fix his android, which he jokingly tells her contains important information to the security of the country.
Fixing the prince’s android isn’t the only thing on Cinder’s mind, however. There’s also a plague raging through New Beijing, and after it infects Cinder’s nice stepsister, Cinder becomes involved with a doctor trying cure the disease. This takes Cinder to the palace, where she repeatedly runs into Prince Kai, who must deal with his own troubles. With his father ailing quickly, Kai faces a difficult threat coming from the Lunar people, a country inhabiting the moon where the people possess magical powers.
Okay, so that sounds a little odd. A cyborg Cinderella and strange moon people with magical powers. It is a little odd, but Meyer weaves traditional aspects into the story—the mean stepsister, the cruel stepmother, the ball, the glass slipper—while interpreting these aspects in an original way to fit her story. Meyer also adds in a mystery surrounding the Lunar princess to the midst of the story to keep it exciting and moving forward.
Any lover of fairy tales will enjoy this new adaptation of the Cinderella story, and readers who like fantasy or sci fi books will enjoy this novel. It is dystopian without the dystopian setting being the center of attention. The world is different and futuristic, but at the same time modern. Cinder deals with being an outcast in society, not to mention dealing with saving the people she loves and falling in love herself. Cinderella is a timeless tale that can thrive in any setting, and it flourishes in Meyer’s novel. Cinder is not a groundbreaking book, but it is a very enjoyable read. Audiences will fall in love with Cinder and relish the new interpretations of the traditional aspects of the Cinderella story. Just as Cinderella transcended from a mere servant to a beautiful princess, Cinder rises as a great futuristic interpretation of a very old fairy tale.