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Cinder, Scarlet & Cress (Winter forthcoming)

Oddly enough the book I recommend most right now is Cinder, where Cinderella is a cyborg. Seriously that’s the plot, but it’s a good book honest.

The market is flooded with fairy tale retellings, and I almost didn’t read Cinder, but it looked popular on goodreads (and I found it on sale for $2) so I decided to give it a shot and I’m glad that I did.

Cinder is set after the fourth world war, where the world is divided into six kingdoms. Cinder is a mechanic living in the capital of New Beijing. The crown prince, Kai comes to her to have his android fixed. She keeps it a secret from him that she’s a cyborg, because cyborgs are looked down upon and have few rights.

Yes, Cinder has an evil step-mother, her legal guardian who practically owns her, and two step-sisters, but only one is evil and she’s really more bratty than evil. And of course there is a ball coming up, which both the stepsisters are preparing for, but that’s where the Cinderella plotline ends.

The plague that has swept the globe has come to New Beijing and Prince Kai’s father, the emperor, has been diagnosed with the disease. There’s no cure and it has a 100% mortality rate. Desperate to combat the disease, the government issued the cyborg draft. Cyborgs, considered less than human, are used as unwilling test subjects.

As if that wasn’t enough for the young prince to deal with, the evil Lunar queen is threatening war if her demands are not met, and one of those demands is to marry the prince. Her spaceships aren’t even her biggest threat. Lunars, the people who colonized the moon, have evolved into a separate race with the ability to create glamours and bend others to their will.

The Lunar Chronicles has excellent world building, an interesting plot, and good characters. (My favorite character is one of the minor ones, Iko, an android with a personality as the result of faulty programming.) A couple of the reveals which were supposed to be a surprising twist were rather predictable in this series, but it didn’t hurt the overall story for me.

The second book stars Scarlet as re-imagined red riding hood and a man with a shady past called wolf. This was my least favorite of the series, because it felt more like a side story with most of the book focusing on two new characters. I kept yelling at my book ‘Where’s Cinder? Get back to Cinder!’ As you can tell it took me a while to warm up to Scarlet. I understand she was going through a rough situation, her grandmother had been kidnapped after all, but it annoyed me when all she did was stress and complain. Scarlet gets better, mostly through her interactions with wolf, and towards the end the action really picks up.

Cress, re-imagined Rapunzel, is trapped on a satellite instead of a tower. I liked her character right away, and it’s nice that we get to learn more about Carswell Thorne. Cress doesn’t feel like a side story the way Scarlet did, because much more happens to advance the plot of the trilogy. I feel like the author really followed the ‘what would be the worst thing I can have happen to this character now?’ method of writing for this book. I can’t say too much about Cress without spoilers, but it’s almost as good as Cinder.

Cinder 9/10 stars

Scarlet 7/10 stars

Cress 8/10 stars

I’d recommend all three books, but I have no idea which books to compare them to, because they’re just so unique. Maybe dystopian, because the main plot features a world in chaos and characters that are trying to make things better.

Now I can’t wait for Winter! (Never thought I’d say that, I hate the cold.)

Do you like fairy tale retellings? Usually I don’t, but Cinder is a happy exception. (and Grimm)