I picked Cinder up as a light and fluffy read for the weekend, not really expecting much other than some simple entertainment. However, I was rather surprised once I started reading! This was a truly clever and original re-imagination of the Cinderella story, with a depth of struggle and emotion that I did not expect.
There were some glitches with the setting and cultural references. I am not exactly sure if the author was trying to emphasise that New Beijing is a mixed society by shuffling honourifics and suchlike, or just didn't quite understand the depths she was diving into by taking on the Eastern cultures, but if you are happy to focus on the main storyline rather than the technicalities, it shouldn't be too big an issue.
Some of the characters were a bit flimsy, and it made Cinder's connections to them somewhat shallow and slightly unconvincing. But here's my tip, forget about them. Realise they are there to advance the story, shove them to the periphery, and focus on Cinder herself. Her metal parts might be dull, but she is uniquely shiny for a teenage protagonist and even though her situation is unique, she will be totally relatable to those that have ever felt lost in life by situations out of their control.
Cinder has enough chutzpah that she isn't a pushover, but still garners enough vulnerability to allow a connection to the reader. She isn't all snark and bravado, which can sometimes alienate a reader (well me anyway), and I appreciated her story more for it. The connection to the prince wasn't instalove, which made me deliriously happy. She was respectfully swoony, but there were no advanced make out sessions or total abandonment of sense because of their connection. She was able to stand on her own two feet without him, and didn't spend 3/4 of the book waxing lyrical about his virtues at every turn. It was realistic crushing, so it didn't make me throw my kindle across the room in despair of it.
The moments spent with Prince Kai were also pretty well developed. Not just a pretty face, but a teenager thrown into a maelstrom that most adults would have a breakdown over, displaying his strengths and weaknesses well. It probably could've been given a bit more depth to bolster his character, but overall I was pleased he was more than just a handsome love interest.
The connections to the original Cinderella were well worked and savvy, and I don't think it would be too presumptuous to think that the Lunar series will maintain that integrity throughout the storylines (currently including Scarlett- red riding hood, Cress- Rapunzel, Fairest -soon to be released and Winter- Snow White, future release).
If you like fairytale reimagining, Sci-fi cyborgs, dystopian futures or simply a good YA read, Cinder is definitely worth a look! And I will definitely be checking out Scarlett soon!