Cinder is a teenage cyborg who gets embroiled in an outsider's plot to overthrow the king. Cinder lives in New Beijing with her stepmother and step sisters. Her stepmother demands that Cinder support the family with her skills as a mechanic, which is just fine by Cinder; it's her gift. There's nothing she can't fix, besides herself. Cinder is part cyborg, and she keeps outgrowing her mechanical parts. She has the money to buy new ones, but her stepmother takes all of her income "for the family." Cinder's father died, and she has no real obligation to her stepfamily, except for the tiny little fact that no one else would take a cyborg in. So Cinder spends her days covered in grease and thankful for what little she has, until one day she meets someone who changes everything--Kaito, Prince of the Eastern Commonwealth, and soon to be Emperor if his father's health continues to fail. Kai came to the village in disguise to have Cinder fix a palace android, which she rushes to do; anything to help Kai in this difficult time. The prince's father is slowing dying of the plague- letumosis, that is ravaging the rest of the commonwealth. The Royal advisors are scrambling for a cure, but there isn't one yet. One day, one of Cinder's step sisters exhibits signs of the plague. There had been an outbreak at the market where Cinder works, and her stepmother believes that Cinder carried the disease home. As punishment, her stepmother sends Cinder off to be used as a guinea pig for antidote testing, which could be fatal. As it turns out, it isn't fatal, at least for Cinder. The doctor who tests her, Dr. Erland, tells Cinder that she's the first person he's seen that's entirely immune to letumosis. To learn more, Erland asks Cinder about her past, and she can't really answer him because she has no memories of who she was or what happened to her that was enough to turn her cyborg. Cyborgs aren't born, they're made from people who undergo terrible ordeals too horrific to be survived by a 100% human. While Cinder's being tested, there's a lot of scrambling going on in the bureaucracy of the kingdom. The moon people-- Lunars-- are on the brink of being at war with the the people of Earth, unless Prince Kaito does exactly as Lunar Queen Levana demands. Kai's only plan of attack is to find the rightful heir to the Lunar Throne--Princess Selene, who allegedly died in a fire that Kai believes Levana set. Not that he could ever confront Levana about it; the Lunars give off a glamour, a shield that plays with the minds of their opponents and lulls them into thinking that the Lunar behind it is tranquil and well-meaning. But Cinder can see through the glamour, which makes her Enemy of the State No.1. She arrives at Kai's coronation ball just in time to see Kai announce that he will do whatever it takes to keep the truce between the Lunars and Earth--basically a marriage to Levana, which breaks Cinder's heart. The Queen finds Cinder in the crowd and begins to demean and threaten her, and Cinder pulls a gun. But she's not fast enough, and is remanded into Lunar custody to await death. But as a cyborg, there are certain features that Cinder possesses that make a jailbreak easier than for a human, and the book closes with her escaping with a little help from Dr. Erland.
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Best part of story, including ending:
I really liked it because it was such a new take on Cinderella.
Best scene in story:
My favorite scene is the one where Dr. Erland tells Cinder that she's immune to letumosis. It leads to a lot of self discovery on Cinder's part.
Opinion about the main character:
I love Cinder's dry wit and her readiness to help those who deserve it.