Cinder - Marissa Meyer
Falling in love was definitely not on my morning to-do list. And, to be completely frank, neither was falling in love with this particular book.

I saw Cinder at a friend's house a few days ago and I admit I laughed at the cover and premise. I was a bit prejudiced at the way everyone's been trying to modify legends and previously published books with the addition of vampires, werewolves . . . cyborgs, you get the idea. I am so ashamed that I picked up this book to laugh at it, and I'm promising myself I'll never make that mistake again.

What makes Cinder a winner is the brilliantly re-imagined tale coupled with the most plucky, unique, and admirable protagonist. I say "re-imagined" but I really mean something like: almost completely changed but allusions back to the original, plus improvements made upon each aspect of Cinderella's story. Or something similar to that with more witty words that I'm too flustered to think up at this moment.

First off, the story is not meant to be a joke off the original faerie tale. It's a serious story in its own right. The stepmother is there, the stepsisters, the "Prince Charming", and "Cinderella" are there, but each of them are unique and they're not just a spin off the familiar, retold story.

Let me talk about Cinder for a moment. She has quickly become one of my favorite literary characters, and definitely my favorite heroine. She's got goals and character and ideas that, most of the time, have nothing to do with Prince Kai. The only flaw I can think of for her and for this book is that the plot twist involving her that's revealed at the end is one that's easily predicted in the first quarter. However, at that point I was so smitten that it didn't even seem to matter.

And prince Kai. I'm used to princes in faerie tale novels with little to no character: pretty faces that say the right things at exactly the right times just so characters and readers will think them perfect. Kai was a very pleasant surprise. He said some pretty awkward things, sometimes his actions made me cringe, he was judgmental at times, but he was still likable and the chemistry between him and Cinder was sizzling without there having to be erotic undertones or "his eyes went dark," or other YA literary cliches. And let's not forget the Ball scene, because you know every Cinderella comes with some version of a ball. Kai was perfect. He was absolutely Kai. He was not some Prince Charming you get in any other retelling. I can't say the exact details of his two actions that made me flail with love for his character because I want this review to remain spoiler-free (if only for the superficial hope that someone will read this and scramble to their nearest bookstore or library to get their hands on a copy), but they were unique and totally true to his character . . . and VERY unlike your normal YA book love interests.

I'll make myself stop drooling over this book and letting it drip all over goodreads now, but I just have to say I'm dying to get my hands on the sequel and that Cinder's the best book I've read in a long time.

It's like Gail Carson Levine meets Fullmetal Alchemist all slathered with Doctor Who's adventure, imagination, and warmth.