Plot summary: Cinder, a gifted mechanic in New Beijing, is also a cyborg. She's reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister's sudden illness. But when her life becomes entwined with the handsome Prince Kai's, she finds herself at the centre of a violent struggle between the desires of an evil queen - and a dangerous temptation.
Cinder is caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal. Now she must uncover secrets about her mysterious past in order to protect Earth's future.
As soon as I began reading, I knew that Cinder wasn't what I was expecting, but I'd struggle to tell you why. Perhaps I was expecting that there would be a closer resemblance to the Cinder story, I don't know. There's a complete and well thought-out backstory to the first installment of this series - new races, cultures, cities and subplots, but there's no getting around that the only resemblance to Cinderella is the presence of a snooty Stepmother!
Don't get me wrong, that's hardly an issue for me. But it did add to the slight disconnect I felt from my assumption of the book to what I was actually experiencing. It was also a lot younger than I was expecting. I'd say it falls at the lower end of YA, whereas I was expecting smaller font and slightly more complex language.
Because of this, it did take me a while to get into. By about the 30% line though, I was looking forward to picking it back up again every time.
Just to snick back to the world-building for a second, it actually is quite impressive. It's a simple concept (Humans GOOD, Cyborgs BAD - in a sort of futuristic China with a monarchy) but it's explained and developed well, right from the beginning. It's interesting and not something I've seen done overmuch before. I think I would have liked a slightly more scientific-y explanation of the Plague (coming from the girl who's just used 'scientific-y' as a real word), but there's a chance that we'll get more information in the second book, Scarlet. I hope so anyway. I love me a good plague!
There is a romantic sub-plot and it is rather sledgehammery. On the bright side, it's very much a sub-plot that doesn't take over the central theme and Prince Whatsit doesn't seem to be a gigantic ArseHat, which always helps.
There's a twist towards the end that was rather obvious... so obvious that I thought the real twist might be that that wasn't the twist! Except it was. It's hardly the end of the world as it was actually pulled off quite well and it was still entertaining reading, but the rest of the book had been quite inventive, so I think I was looking for something more.
The ending... isn't great. I mean, I'm reading this in 2015 and the next two books in the series are already released, with the fourth book coming out in November. I can just pick up the next book and it's fine. But if I'd read this when it was first released in 2012, I'd be a little irritated that the story just... stops. I get that Marissa Meyer probably knew perfectly well where she wanted the story to go next, but I'd have preferred a more self-contained novel.
I did end up liking this a reasonable amount. It didn't make my Top Ten Books So Far list, but it was a close thing and I will be reading Scarlet. I've actually already bought it... admittedly it does help that it was £2 on Amazon.
Read Ellie's review of Cinder at Curiosity Killed the Bookworm.