Modern day fairytale retellings seem to be quite the thing at the moment. I was drawn to this series in particular for three main reasons – there was a lot of positive hype surrounding it, it had a futuristic sci-fi element, and it was set in Bejing. Who wouldn’t want to read about a cyborg Cinderella? This novel really turned the classic tale on its head and gave it a fresh exciting twist.
In this series, we have a futuristic Earth, and we have the moon, which is populated by a race called Luna. The current Queen of Luna, Queen Levana, is despised and feared by all those on Earth. Luna’s have the power of ultimate manipulation, they are able to make you believe whatever they want, and some, including Queen Levana, can exert this influence over people for extended periods of time. Hence, she is seen as ethereally beautiful, when in reality this is not exactly the truth.
Linh Cinder is a cyborg mechanic who works tirelessly in New Bejing markets, only to give up all her wage to her evil Stepmother, Linh Adri, and her stepsisters Linh Pearl and Linh Peony. Adri feels Cinder is a burden and partly blames her for her husband’s death. Pearl appears to share her mothers sentiments. Peony and Cinder are close friends in the novel, with Peony being sympathetic to Cinder’s predicament despite knowing she is a cyborg. The girls’ father, Linh Garan, died prior to the novel opening from the fatal disease Letumosis, which is still wreaking destruction across the Earthen Union. Lunars are immune to this disease.
Cinder meets Prince Kai, Crown Prince of the Eastern Commonwealth, when one day he brings in his beloved android, Nainsi, for her to fix. Cinder’s family has an android of their own, Iko, who has a glitch in her programming which sometimes causes her to forget she’s an android, and she often displays human emotion. Cinder and Iko have a close friendship, ever since a young Cinder rebuilt her from her parts that Adri had tried to sell. Adri to this day feels contempt towards Iko, and Iko spends most of her time with Cinder, avoiding her.
When Peony contracts Letumosis, Adri blames Cinder and has her drafted as a research subject. She is taken away to the palace to be tested on, knowing that cyborgs do not come out of this experience alive. However, as you might expect, her initial examination is followed by a significant turn of events. For some reason, Cinder is immune.
All in all, I enjoyed this story. This version of a futuristic universe is multifaceted and well constructed, any romance is relatively believable, if not a little typical, and the ending leaves room for the story to continue in the following novels. There is a good balance of action, intrigue and angst and i’m interested in seeing how Scarlet (a re-imagining of Little Red Riding Hood), fits into this world.
Thanks for reading!