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Cinderella as a Bad Ass Cyborg? Hell Yeah!! [Booky McBookNerd]

I was reading this great essay in the New York Times this weekend. Written by writer and teacher, Dean Bakopoulos, it asserts the notion that reading is like falling in love:

I realized that what I’m really instructing them in is reading as a process of seduction. Consider how one falls in love: by fixating on certain attributes of the beloved. The way he looks in his brown cords. The way she flips her hair from her face. The flecks in her eyes, the twitch in his smile. We do not yet know the whole person, but we are lured by primal responses to a few details.

Well, this week I fell in love. I’m in love with The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, specifically the first book in the four book series, Cinder.

Cinder is set many hundreds of years into the future. Earth has been through two more world wars and nations have been reorganized. Linh Cinder lives in the Eastern Commonwealth, which the reader can only conclude (from the way the character’s family name comes before their first names and the fact that the characters dress in fancy kimonos) is now comprised of most the former nations of Asia.  Like the classic fairy tale, Cinder lives with her stepmother, Adri, and two stepsisters, Pearl and Peony.  Cinder is an outcast not only because she is an orphan whom is seen as a burden by Pearl and Adri, but because she is a cyborg.

Cinder has a robotic arm and leg. She also has a retinal interface that alerts her to when people are lying to her and that informs her of when her adrenaline is running dangerously high. Cyborgs are fairly commonplace in the Eastern Commonwealth, but they are second class citizens. When the government needs test subjects in their research to find a cure for the deadly plague that has killed hundreds of thousands of citizens, they institute a cyborg draft. Thousands of cyborgs are “recruited” as test subjects, except no one ever survives those tests.

In this modified setting, the traditional fairy tale unfolds. There is a handsome prince, Prince Kai, and he is hosting a ball that thousands of young girls will be attending in hoping of attracting the prince’s attention. Yet Prince Kai is already intrigued by Cinder, the renowned mechanic, who he meets when he takes his personal android to her for repairs.  Cinder has a gift for machines. She can repair almost anything.

I’m a huge fan of recrafted fairy tales, but what makes Cinder so special is not its new take on the old story. Cinder finding her way to the ball is only the very beginning of Cinder’s journey and transformation into a hero. Fortunately or unfortunately that journey only begins in Cinder and won’t conclude until the final book in the series is released in 2015. I’m currently in the process of reading the second book, Scarlet, and I can assure you that so far, the journey is well worth the wait.

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