We set the scene in New Beijing after World War IV, the deadly plague of letumosis is spreading across the commonwealth, and with the Emperor sick with this life threatening disease, New Beijing is in a state of panic. Cinder is a cyborg mechanic living with her two step sisters and her stepmother, who will stop at nothing to make her life a living hell because of the resentment that lies below the surface. It isn't until the infamous Prince Kai turns up at Cinder's market stall that her life is turned upside down and she finds her self stuck in the middle of an intergalactic struggle for peace.
Right from the first page in this book, you take a plunge into the deep end of New Beijing and you're instantly surrounded by the fantastical futuristic world that Meyer has developed. A world where pretty much everything is computer based; from ID chips to hovercrafts and androids - the imagery is close to perfect, and I found myself caught in the book from the off. The pacing was spot on for me, it had enough tension but didn't keep you waiting for too long until another twist came or something unexpected happened. No one part lingered on a little longer than needed, and most importantly at no point did I get bored of reading this book.
Now on to the most amazing thing about this book; the plot. Personally, I have never read a retelling before, but if this is anything to go by then it has set the standards way up there. The story of Cinderella was still lurking there beneath all the uniqueness, you got hints of it every now and then to remind you that this was a retelling when you got too comfortable in its originality. The history of the world that was told through this book added another dimension to the novel - the ongoing war and struggle for peace with the Lunars on the moon was believable and the way the characters described them and had their own opinions on them created a view of the way they were seen from the off which they succeeded in presenting. There was one thing in the plot which was a bit of a downfall, and that was the ending and the fact that it was quite predictable. That however, is the only negative thing I have to say about this book.
The characters were unbelievably relatable and believable, and I felt as though I connected with each and every one of them in the way that is expected with regards to the original Cinderella story. I didn't like the step sisters, (well I did and I didn't, but I can't explain that without spoilers), and I absolutely despised the stepmother beyond any other hatred I've ever had for a character in a book - she wasn't 'evil' but she was just so sly and subtly dark. Prince Kai was so, normal, well for a Prince anyways. He had a modesty about himself wherein he didn't take his fame and fortune for granted, he didn't really see himself as anything special despite the thoughts of the swooning girls throughout the city. He was naturally charming and mischievous without even knowing and he was a wonderfully likeable character. Lastly Cinder, she was most definitely a strong minded character, but she had a tendency to doubt and belittle herself just due to the fact that she is a cyborg. Even when put through some hardships she always tried to keep her head held high even if it only looked as though her pride was being kept in place. She was a wonderful protagonist and I felt as though I really got to know her throughout the entirety of the novel.
I could not put Cinder down, and even when I had to, I was still thinking about how amazing a book it was - I kept on telling everybody I knew how much of a brilliant novel this was. I am super excited with the sequel to come out and I'm just angry I need to wait till February 2013 to read it. I'm a little worried however, with what I've heard of the sequel, that it won't be as good as it doesn't necessarily carry on with Cinder but with 'little red riding hood' instead. But I'm open to give this book a chance. Anyways, I highly recommend Cinder to anyone and everyone and give it the biggest 5 stars of the year so far.