It might have been a mistake to read a Cinderella re-telling while trying to write a re-telling of the same story. I ended up reading Cinder and thinking, "Why should I write a re-telling? This is the most imaginative and fun version of this story I've ever read!"
[I also discovered that while I enjoyed reading historical fiction as a child, I loathe writing it. I couldn't even open the document to work on it after the first five chapters. So there is that too]
The book opens with Cinder, the best mechanic in New Beijing, being visited by Prince Kai. He brings a robot for her to repair. Before they have time to fall in love at first sight, an outbreak of plague causes them both to scurry home, before they succumb to the frightening disease.
Cinder lives with her stepmother and two stepsisters, and a robot, her one constant companion. Unknown to many, including the prince, Cinder is a cyborg, which allows her to diagnose and fix machines as well as tell when people are lying.
When she's sent to the palace as a 'volunteer' for experimentation with a cure for the plague, a scientist takes particular interest in her. There is more to Cinder than even she knows, and when the Lunar Queen visits, Cinder is warned to stay away for fear of her life.
Of course, she can't, needing to get vital information to the prince, and what results is a tragic and breathtaking beginning of the Lunar Chronicles. Scarlet, the second book, is already out and I am anxious to continue reading about Cinder.
There were lots of things to love about this book: the cover is striking, Cinder is an intelligent girl who knows how to handle machinery, she isn't overly romantic, and she struggles with things that a lot of us go through at that age. I also loved the nods to the classic story. The new twists made the story fresh, and the setting was just incredible -- a future world where the moon has its own colony ruled by the Lunar Queen, Beijing has been rebuilt, and robots/cyborgs are looked down on as second-hand citizens. It's an interesting way to look at race/disabilities.
The one thing I didn't like was that I saw the biggest twist coming right from the start. I wish the clues hadn't been so obvious, or that they had showed up later, about 2/3 of the way through the book instead of in the first few chapters.
Other than that, it was amazing, and really, it's one of my new favorite books. Re-tellings are always such fun, and Cinder was more fun than most, being put in a science fiction setting rather than a fairytale.
I'm curious to see Cinder's journey throughout The Lunar Chronicles, and I'd love to hear your thoughts (mark your spoilers, though, as I haven't read Scarlet yet) on Cinder's story!