CINDER (The Lunar Chronicles #1) - by Marissa Meyer

CINDER - Marissa Meyer
Published: 2012 - by Feiwel and Friends.
Pages: 387.
Genres: Young adult / fairy tale retelling / dystopia / romance / fantasy
Source: Bought.
Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

First off, let us congratulate me on finally starting The Lunar Chronicles!! EEEEEK!!! It has been too long. I thought I'd never get to them. Cruel world.
That said, I wasn't expecting to love Cinder. I've heard that the rest of the series (primarily Scarlet) is much better. Not to mention Cinderella has never been my favourite fairy tale, and the idea of a futuristic society and a cyborg heroine didn't initially interest me.
But oh my heart. This book is a treasure that needs to be loved wholeheartedly.

“Believe me, Cinder. You are a sacrifice I will never regret.”

It is NOT boring. I've heard reviewers say it is, but WUUUTT? It is seriously not boring! It's entertaining, magical, imaginative, exciting, heartbreaking, spellbinding, and utterly absorbing. I flew through it in about two days, and not for one second did I want to yawn. There's tragedy, beauty, heartache, and humour. It's a beautifully written book with pitch-perfect structure, and the plot is excellent. I've read so many writing articles on how to structure a book and what plot points to include, and GOSH does Meyer nail it. It's tight, effortless, and bubbles with skill. Some plot points are predictable, but who cares when the story's this good?
The dialogue's also ravishing, witty and compelling.

I loved the twists on the Cinderella story. Meyer concocts such a beautiful, vivid tale, and all the original fairy tale magic is still there. I love fairy tale retellings that manage to capture the original spark, and Meyer aces that.

The world-building is brilliant. So clever, so natural, and so well thought-out. It's easy to get lost in Cinder's world, and I was sucked into the politics, the relationships, and the society like I was actually living there myself. The world Meyer's created is superb.
In addition, disability gets excellent representation. It's accurate, thoughtful, and seriously overwhelming seeing it from poor Cinder's point of view. (It's written in third person, but is just as vivid as first person would've been).

“We have the ability to love each other, no matter our differences. To help each other, no matter our weaknesses.”

“They were beautiful. The most beautiful things she’d ever owned. But if there was one thing she knew from years as a mechanic, it was that some stains never came out.”

The characters are wonderful. They're all so vivid and realistic, even if most of them are archetypes. I loved Cinder's feistiness and her originality, and I just loved how active she is. She moves the story forward, it's her choices that take the plot to the next point, and it's she who decides to take action after action. I particularly loved how she decides to repair a car so she can escape from her wicked stepmother. That's just perfect! She's so proactive, and I adored that.
The humanness of the characters is fantastic. I could relate to Cinder (to an extent), and I loved how down-to-earth she and Kai were. Status peeled away, they're just like average teenagers, and AH IT IS SO BEAUTIFUL.
I also loved Cinder's relationships with Peony and Iko. Iko is a darling whom I need as my friend, and I loved Cinder's strong relationships with these two females. Actual #squadgoals I'm telling you; their scenes are so powerful and magical.  I love strong friendships between girls, and wow were these relationships making me want to dance and cheer and hug someone.
The only thing about the characters I found disappointing was that they're flat. I'm sure this is just a "first book" thing, but Cinder and Kai didn't really change throughout the story.

The romance is cuteness overload. I loved Kai's character, and he and Cinder are actual honey and cookies together. (I have no idea what that means but anyway). They're awkward, beautiful, realistic and sweet, and their dialogue is gold.
Me ship it.

I can't decide whether to give this book 4 flowers or 4.5. For now, I'll stick with 4.5.

Cinder is an enchanting tale sprinkled with the original magic of the fairy tale that inspired it, and woven together into a perfect plot with vivid, realistic characters, and stellar storytelling.  It's a deliciously fun and heartwarming adventure.

Now! Onto Scarlet!