Read the complete and original review at Word SpelunkingI’ll admit that I’m more of a fantasy nerd than a sci-fi geek, but I do have a fascination with the idea of cyborgs-part human, part machine, how is that concept not fascinating?!-but unfortunately I haven’t had much luck with books about/featuring cyborgs…until now! The few I’ve read in the past have either been too much sci-fi and not enough story or too much story and not enough sci-fi. But, Marissa Meyer’s Cinder is the perfect blend of sci-fi, dystopia, paranormal, romance, action, drama, and social/political provocativeness. It really does balance all these aspects nicely. MY BRIEF SUMMARYTeenager Cinder Linh lives in New Beijing in a futuristic dystopian world. This is a world brimming with all the advanced technology one usually imagines the distant future to have, but it is also a fragile world still recovering from a world war that ended over a century ago. A world made even more unstable by a deadly plague killing thousands of people and a world threatened by a dangerous race of lunar people living on the moon. Cinder is a gifted mechanic and lives with her stepmother and two stepsisters. She’s also a cyborg. Part human, part machine, Cinder is deemed a second class citizen. Her world becomes even more complicated after the handsome Prince Kai enters her life. Cinder soon finds herself faced with truths about her past, a deadly enemy, and unexpected romantic feelings. STORYFrom the synopsis and the titled, you can easily see that Cinder is a modern envisioning of the classic Cinderella fairytale. But make no mistakes, this book may be inspired by the classic tale, but Cinder is, in its own right, an original, refreshing and smart creation. Meyer has truly created a unique and entertaining sci-fi infused experience.As I stated above, Cinder is a wonderful, eclectic and electric mix of many things. The sci-fi elements are smart and intriguing, the dystopian world Meyer has created is vivid and layered, the romance is realistic and believable, the characters are engaging, and the story itself is quite thought provoking.This book has one of the best first pages I’ve read in a long time. Why? Simply, because it does such an excellent job of immediately pulling readers into the story and introducing us to its main character Cinder, while at the same time capturing your attention in the most awesome and intriguing way. Here, see for yourself:The screw through Cinder’s ankle had rusted. The engraved cross marks worn to a mangled circle…By the time it was extracted far enough for her to wrench free with her prosthetic hand, the hairline threads had been stripped clean…Tossing the screwdriver onto the table, Cinder gripped the heel and yanked the foot from its socket. A spark singed her fingertips and she jerked away, leaving the foot to dangle from a mess of red and yellow wires..pg 1See?! Aren’t you completely intrigued already? I know I was. This book really was quite gripping from beginning to end; I never found myself bored or losing interest once while reading. The story paces nicely, never too fast or too slow.Meyer does a great job of writing intelligent and believable sci-fi elements while spicing things up with an exciting mix of the paranormal and dystopian, while at the same time offering, at the core of this book, the unforgettable and touching story of an outcast simply trying to thrive and survive.As the first book in a series, Cinder creates a solid foundation on which the rest of the series can be built. For the most part, Meyer does an excellent job of introducing readers to this world she has created. But, there are still things left unexplained and questions left unanswered about this dystopian future. Things I assume will be explored in future books. And while there are plenty of twists and turns, the ending was easily predicted. Meyer lays out very obvious clues as to where the storyline in this first book is headed, but this may have been done intentionally. And honestly, I didn’t mind the predictability of the ending because I felt like there were so many other exciting and significant events and revelations presented that kept me intrigued.As a whole, I found this book to be wonderfully creative, beautifully executed, and very entertaining. CHARACTERSCinder has some really engaging and compelling characters!Cinder is such a fascinating YA character. I really liked and connected with her. She’s a surprisingly realistic mix of tough and vulnerable, sarcastic and honest, independent and desperate for closeness. Despite her exceptional circumstances, this is a character that readers will be able to relate to. By the end of the book, I was very much invested in Cinder’s story and rooting for her.Kai is such a lovely male character and romantic interest. I love how layered and well developed his character is. Kai has all the best attributes of a swoon-worthy guy- he’s funny, smart, loyal, brave, honorable, charming, endearing, and a little dorky…oh and he’s a prince…he really is Prince Charming!The main antagonist, Queen Levana of the lunar people, is wickedly awesome with her iciness, superpowers, and commanding presence. This is a baddie that you will love to hate. ROMANCEI really loved every scene and moment featuring Cinder and Kai. They have such a fun, yet intense spark between them. This is most definitely not a case of insta-love…and thank goodness for that. You actually get to see their feelings for each other grow and develop naturally and realistically. But this isn’t a fluffy fairytale no matter its inspiration, so things aren’t all simple, sweet, and easy for this duo. But the complications and heartache make this romance that much more interesting and worth rooting for!MY FINAL THOUGHTS: Cinder is a spectacularly impressive debut. Melissa Meyer has created a unique and enthralling experience for readers. A definite MUST read!