Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Click here to listen to chapter one of the Cinder Audiobook using your default media player.
"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."
I loved Cinder.
I've always enjoyed "retellings" of fairy tales, but Cinder is maybe the best retelling of Cinderella I've ever read.
You have the main elements: two stepsisters and a stepmother who despises Cinder. Though, in Cinder's case, one of her stepsisters, Peony, is her only 'human' friend.
'Human' because Cinder is a cyborg. In case you're a little hazy on what that is, it's basically a person who has been 'enhanced' by robotic elements/technology. Cinder has a metal hand and leg, but she later learns that she's actually 36.28% Not Human. (So, no beautiful yet ignored stepdaughter, like in the original tale here!)
Then Cinder's sister, Peony, contracts the deadly virus that has been raging rampant across the earth. In response, Cinder's stepmonster, who believes Cinder is at fault for Peony's imminent death, sends her off to the labs to be the new test subject. (And, of course, no cyborg has ever returned from this place...So you can understand the issue. Also, you can read the synopsis, because I'm not summarizing the book for you.)
Also, Cinder meets Prince Kai who seems to like her...but of course he has no idea she's a cyborg or knows anything of her other, more important secret that I will not reveal for you (tough luck).
Cinder is a very likable character. Her ailments are fresh and interesting. I mean, people, she can take her damn foot off! How cool/freaky is that?! Her situations and emotions cause readers to cheer her on. Well...I was. But I just really like robots. (Well, I fear them too...but whatevs.)
Prince Kai is okay as a character, too. I was happy to read about a character who liked Cinder, even though he really knows nothing at all about her. (Of course, I now hate him. Read the book to find out why.)
Then the ENDING!! It was a cliffhanger of beautiful proportions. Leaves readers (well, left me at least) wondering about what happens next, and if I had my damn way the sequel, Scarlet (due out sometime in 2013) would be released like, yesterday.
Loved the story, loved Cinder's tale, and I'm eager to read more about her (and Kai, I suppose).
If you like dystopians, cyborgs/robots, retellings and romance, you're gunna love Cinder! 4/5 stars.