A good retelling stays true to the spirit of the original story while giving it a fresh, original spin. Cinder does exactly that. At its core, Cinderella is a pretty basic tale: with a little help from some friends, an underdog in life and love bests her tormentors and gets her man. To give this simple fairy tale depth, Marissa Meyer layers on both political intrigue (an ailing king, his son, and a power-hungry Lunar queen) and a dystopian twist (a deadly disease). Cinder, our heroine, was badly injured in a childhood accident and is now a cyborg. She works as a lowly mechanic in the city of New Beijing and could really use a new mechanical foot, but her evil stepmother spends all Cinder's wages on her own two daughters. While working in her shop one day, Cinder meets cute with Crown Prince Kai as he sneaks into her shop with a droid in need of repair. (A bit implausible, but I was still loving it.)Like its plucky heroine, Cinder is a bit of a mash-up. There are echoes of Star Wars (a droid that harbors a secret message) of the Hunger Games (a young step-sister who is not at all wicked) and of Sailor Moon (a missing lunar princess.) Cinder does throw in a couple of plot twists which I definitely saw coming a mile away, but that didn't spoil my enjoyment of the story.Another aspect of the story I particularly admired was the way that the author took Prince Charming, a handsome yet bland guy, and transformed him into Prince Kai, a character I thought was the most compelling in the book. Kai has a lot to face: his father's mortality, his own looming responsibility as leader, and an evil, spellbinding villainess. (By the way, I do love a good female villain. I think YA needs more of those!)I've read that the author is planning three more books that will incorporate the tales of Snow White, Rapunzel and Little Red Riding Hood. I'm glad -- I look forward to returning to the world Meyer created. As I got to Cinder's final chapters, I was really wishing that the four books could be standalones with crossover characters. At least a hint of a happily ever after would have made this remimagined fairy tale perfect and my reading experience complete. Of course, that's not the case -- Cinder ends with the requisite YA cliffhanger, which means I'll have add this book to my ever-growing list of stories that left me dangling. Fine. For a story this engaging and imaginative, I'll happily hang around and wait.