Typical young adult fantasy in that the ‘big twist’ was obvious from the start, but this story still has some charm. Cinder is a cyborg mechanic who wants to go to the ball, but she doesn’t have the time or money to do so. She lives in a world where cyborgs are despised, but tolerated. Humankind is suffering from a plague, one which strikes without warning and leaves the affected dead within days. There’s a draft for cyborgs to be tested upon in order to find a cure for this disease but Cinder is lucky in that her number hasn’t been drawn yet.
Unfortunately for the citizens of New Beijing, the emperor has been struck down with this disease. His son, Kai, is not ready to take the throne, but he doesn’t have time to prepare because an evil Queen from Luna is headed to the planet, presumably to marry Kai and extend her holdings from the moon to earth. Queen Levannah is a member of the race called Lunars who, though once regular settlers from earth, have evolved the ability to control their bio-electric energy and can make others do their bidding. The stage is set for an epic show down between prince, cyborg, and moon queen and it’s all going to happen at, of course, the ball.
Which, like in the original Cinderella tale, was my favorite part. Meyer’s plot very slowly winds itself towards this pivotal moment and I loved her take on the ‘slipper’ left on the stairs. I listened to this audio book on my commute to work but, when I got to the ending, I had to finish it in one night rather than waiting for the next day. That says something, I think, about the power of the story once it gets going despite my lukewarm feelings for the first part of it. Also, I’m on the hold list for the next digital audio book which also says something about this tale. I grew fond of Cinder as the story progressed but not of much else.
Other than the true magic of the ball, readers will find much of Cinder predictable and slow. Only recommended for the serious connoisseur of young adult novels and similar to: Splintered, Ash & Bramble, or The Girl of Fire and Thorns.