Judging by the comments I've read when I mentioned reading this one, it has LOTS of buzz! Since I try my darndest not to read other reviews before I'VE had a chance to read a review book, I can only go my own feeling on this one and say, "Well deserved!".
I read this in one LONG sitting (which left me very tired the next day - I should learn not to start a new book for my nightly read).
Linh Cinder is a 16-year-old mechanic at New Beijing's weekly market. Her guardian, Adri, relies on Cinder's income to pay her own bills and those of her own two daughters, Peony (14) and Pearl (17). Adri's husband Garan adopted the orphan Cinder when she was five and soon after contracted letumosis, a deadly "plague" for which there is no cure. Adri resents Cinder and, as in the old fairy tale, finds reasons NOT to allow her to go to the royal ball. Peony is Cinder's only human friend, but she also has a great sidekick named Iko, a witty android/
Kaito (Kai), the Crown Prince of the Eastern Commonwealth, the heartthrob of many a teenage girl, comes incognito to Cinder's market stall to ask her to fix his android Nainsi. Kai's mother died of the plague, and now his father, the Imperial Majesty Emperor Rikan, has contracted the disease. Cinder is not starstruck like most girls, and Kai takes a liking to her. Cinder knows it would never work, because she is a cyborg as a result of the hovercraft accident that killed her parents. Cyborgs are considered less than human, treated as property, and there is even a draft for cyborgs for testing for a plague antidote.
Then comes a tale that mixes a bit of steampunk with a bit of dystopia and science fiction. A kick-butt heroine, a handsome prince, an abusive adoptive mother, a doctor determined to find a cure for the plague, villains in the form of "Lunars" who evolved from an Earthen moon colony centuries ago and now have the power to manipulate people's minds - all combine to create this wonderful roller coaster of a ride through a wonderfully-drawn, realistic world.
I seriously wanted to SLAP Adri in so many places throughout this book.
I figured out a central theme early on, but that didn't stop me from reading on.
The villain, the Lunar Queen Levana, is spot-on creepy and manipulative.
The romantic aspects are appropriately timed, which, sadly, doesn't happen in a lot of YA.
Cinder is a girl that will make you root for her. You'll smile at Iko's sarcasm, gnash your teeth at Adri's actions, hope against hope that Cinder will be on time for ... (oops, can't tell you, THAT would be a spoiler for sure).
In short, even if you're not a YA/sci-fi/steampunk reader, you'll still like this book, because it's a story about a girl who doesn't fit in, but has not let her spirit be broken. She has dreams and the will to make them happen, as well as the smarts to figure out how to do it.
This is the first in a series by a debut author, and will likely be on my list of 2012 faves at the end of the year. Buy it, borrow it, definitely read it.
QUOTES (from an ARC; may be different in final copy):
And the prince did know her now, sort of. He had been kind to her at the market. Perhaps he would ask her to dance. Out of politeness. Out of chivalry when he saw her standing alone.
The precarious fantasy crashed down around her as quickly as it had begun. It was impossible. Not worth thinking about.
She was cyborg, and she would never to the ball.
They said she'd murdered her older sister, Queen Channary, so that she could take the throne from her. They said she'd had her own husband killed too so that she would be free to make a more advantageous match. They said she had forced her stepdaughter to mutilate her own face because, at the sweet age of thirteen, she had become more beautiful than the jealous queen could stand.
Cinder stared at the holograph and imagined watching herself die. In real time.
"How many different batches of antibodies have you gone through?"
"Twenty-seven," said the med-droid.
"But," said the foreign voice, "they die a little slower each time."
Writing: 4 out of 5 stars
Plot: 5 out of 5 stars
Characters: 5 out of 5 stars
Reading Immersion: 5 out 5 stars
BOOK RATING: 4.75 out of 5 starsshow more
by Julie Smith