Once upon a time, there was a cyborg girl named Cinder who had an evil stepmother who wouldn’t let her go to the ball. A cyborg Cinderella! Why are young adult books so cool?! Marissa Meyer has brought us the first in the Lunar Chronicles series; a book about a young cyborg girl that doesn’t know where she came from, a cute prince, and a civilization of moon jerks, called Lunars.

Linh Cinder is 33% cyborg; she’s got a robotic hand, a robotic foot, and some other robotic parts that cause her a deep and abiding amount of shame because even in future-world where everything has gone to crap, people still hate people that are different. Some things will never change, I guess. One day the adorable Prince Kai stops into Cinder’s shop at the farmer’s market of the future to flirt and ask if she’ll repair his busted up robot. Cinder, who likes to maintain a low pro, reluctantly agrees.

But this wouldn’t be a Cinderella mash-up if there wasn’t a rotten, evil stepmother, and Cinder’s stepmother is a pretty big hag. Such a hag that she doesn’t feel one iota bad about sending Cinder off for medical testing in exchange for some scrilla to buy her other daughter a nice dress for the ball. Why would the world be paying for medical test subjects, you ask? Oh, because there’s a bigass plague picking people off left and right, the way that plagues are wont to do.

In the meantime, the Queen of the Lunars is plotting to take over the Earth and all the Earthens on it by way of marrying the aforementioned adorable Prince Kai and the clock…is…ticking. New Beijing after World War IV is a tough place to call home and Prince Kai is under a lot of pressure to make an alliance with the Lunars (who are suspected of bringing the Letumosis plague to Earth in the first place and) whose weapons, strange magic abilities, cure for the plague, and overall viciousness are freaking everybody out.

I loved that these characters were full of conscience and considered the consequences of their actions. I also appreciated that the flowering flirtations between Prince Kai and Cinder weren’t over the top. He wasn’t her hero or her lifelong love, but it wasn’t puerile. Meyer penned an awfully charming PG story and the Cinderella hook was clever. The only thing – and this is something that drives us all nuts, I’m sure – is that when a character is told a series of facts that should logically lead to a particular conclusion, please just let them reach that conclusion in a reasonable amount of time.

Overall it was a sweet story that little tweens and teens all over should find entertaining. And don’t be fooled by the sexy ankle on the cover – Cinder’s foot doesn’t even fit on her leg half the time. Somebody must’ve taken a marketing tip from that other Meyer.

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