Cinder (novel)

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Cinder (Official Book Cover) by Marissa Meyer.png
Author Marissa Meyer
Cover artist Illustration:Michael O.,Original design:Klaudia Jakubowska ,Cover design:Rich Deas
Country United States
Language English
Series The Lunar Chronicles
Genre Young adult/
Science Fiction/
Publication date
January 3rd 2012
Media type Print (Hardback)
Pages 387
ISBN 9780312641894
Followed by Scarlet, Cress, Winter, Stars Above

Cinder is the debut novel of Marissa Meyer, published by Macmillan Publishers through their subsidiary Feiwel & Friends. The story is loosely based on the classic fairytale "Cinderella".[1] Cinder was selected as one of IndieBound's Kids' Next List for winter 2012.[2]


The story is set in a futuristic new Beijing, where the various countries have re-organized to form various new empires and alliances and the moon has been colonized. The protagonist, Linh Cinder is a cyborg that operates a mechanic stall at a local street market in New Beijing, and lives under the guardianship of her stepmother. Early in the book, she meets Prince Kai who asks her to fix a personal android. Cyborgs are treated as second class citizens, so Cinder hides her identity from Kai. Cinder’s stepsister falls sick with a plague after accompanying Cinder to a junkyard to collect spare parts for a repair. In anger, Cinder’s stepmother "volunteers" Cinder for plague research. When Cinder is injected with the plague, she shows an immunity to it. Dr Erland, the plague researcher, starts to do research on Cinder’s immunity, which leads to research on Cinder’s unique physiology, her cyborg implants, and eventually to Cinder’s life prior to becoming a cyborg at the age of 11, of which Cinder has no memory of.

At the same time, Prince Kai's father dies of the plague, resulting in the Prince becoming Emperor of the Eastern Commonwealth. There was pressure to create an alliance between the Earth countries and the Moon colony, led by Queen Levana. The Lunars have the ability to manipulate the bioelectricity of people around them and make them see what they want them to see, and even control their thoughts and actions. The proposed alliance is through Prince Kai marrying Queen Levana, however, Prince Kai wants to thwart this plan by finding someone else to marry first. He is also searching for information regarding the people of the Lunar colony, which is what his personal android was looking for when it broke. Soon after, Cinder's stepsister dies of the plague and Linh Cinder stores her ID chip and takes it with her. Because of this, Linh Adri punishes Cinder by smashing Iko to pieces and selling the valuable pieces.

Dr Erland reveals to Cinder that she is immune to the plague because she is a Lunar, though she displays no Lunar abilities. Cinder fixes Kai's android and discovers that he has been researching Princess Selene, the former heir of Luna who is believed to have died as a small child in a fire. Cinder discovers a Lunar chip. She is contacted by a girl with long braids who warns that Levana intends to marry Kai and kill him to become empress.

The story culminates with an annual ball, where secrets are discovered and characters have to make a decision on their future. Cinder warns Kai, but her identity as a cyborg and a Lunar are revealed, and she attempts to assassinate Levana. Kai has no choice but to accept Levana's marriage proposal to save the earth from attack. In the aftermath, Dr. Erland visits Cinder in her cell, and reveals that he is a Lunar fugitive who has been living on Earth, and that the Lunars created the plague to target Earth and weaken them. He also reveals that Cinder is the lost Princess Selene of Luna. The badly injured Selene was taken to Earth in secret, where she was saved by being made a cyborg. Cinder's lunar abilities have been suppressed by a chip that her stepfather installed in her, though the chip is no longer working. Cinder is the true heir of Luna, and she must rise up against Levana and take the throne back.


  • Linh Cinder: A young female cyborg mechanic and main protagonist of the Lunar Chronicles. Interviewed about this character, Marissa Meyer admitted drawing inspiration from herself, both in a "positive" and "negative" way. Cinder is sarcastic (as the author's mother noticed, much to the author's amusement), but she is also a good mechanic, whereas Mrs. Meyer is admittedly unable to repair anything.
  • Prince Kaito: Crown Prince of Eastern Commonwealth. He meets Cinder when taking his personal android to be repaired and develops feelings for her, however he must deal with the possibility of being forced to marry Queen Levana of Luna or face war against the Lunars.
  • Dr. Erland: A Lunar fugitive, who works in the palace as a letumosis (disease) researcher.
  • Linh Peony: Cinder's stepsister and friend; daughter of Linh Garan and Linh Adri. Early in the book she contracts the same plague that killed her father and dies despite Cinder's efforts to administer the cure.
  • Linh Pearl: Daughter of Adri and Garan and older sister of Peony. She regularly degrades and picks on Cinder, her stepsister.
  • Linh Adri: Cinder's cruel stepmother, with the belief that cyborgs are inhuman and mutants incapable of emotions. She regularly mistreats Cinder and blames her for all the hardships in her life.
  • Iko: Cinder's android partner and one of her only friends. Iko sometimes forgets that she's not human due to her malfunctioning personality chip. She is forcibly dismantled by Adri after Cinder is arrested, but luckily her chip survives and Cinder vows to give her a new life.
  • Queen Levana: the cruel queen of Luna, the moon colony. Not above using terrorist and genocidal tactics to obtain power, she is partially responsible for the existence of the plague on Earth since many of her subjects fled there to escape her influence. She uses a powerful glamour to force people to do her bidding. She is likely based on the Evil Queen of Snow White's history.
  • Emperor Rikan: Kai's father and emperor of New Beijing, who dies of letumosis.
  • Chang Sacha: a baker in the marketplace, who dies of letumosis. She disliked Cinder intensely due to her being a cyborg. Despite this Cinder uses her one vial of cure on Chang Sacha's son Sunto, saving him.
  • Nainsi: Kai's android, who was helping him research Princess Selene. Cinder also fixes this android for Kai.


Social equality[edit]

Cinder deals with problems of equality, mainly through the problem of cyborg and human rights. In this world, cyborgs are seen more as property and aren’t given the same rights as humans (even though they are mostly human). Cinder is seen as the property of her step-mother Adri and everyone in the town treats her differently and avoids her due to the fact that she is not 100% human like them.

Another equality issue in this novel is the relationship between the Earthens and Lunars. Lunars regard themselves as better than all of the Earthens and way more powerful. In Cinder we quickly learn of the distrust the Earthens have of all Lunars. They assume that if one Lunar is power hungry and controlling then so are all of the rest. Thus, a prejudice against them is born which causes a rift between the two planets. Neither side cares for the other or regards the other as people who deserve the right to live.

In the beginning of the novel, Cinder has no idea that she’s a Lunar. She just knows that she’s an unwanted cyborg and craves freedom from a town that looks down upon her. When she meets Prince Kai, Cinder hides her cyborg parts from him hoping that by doing so she would keep him from making assumptions about her based on the prejudice against cyborgs. In developing her friendship with Kai, Cinder proves that cyborgs are as human as the humans and that you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference if it weren’t for the mechanical parts.

Along with showing that the prejudice against cyborgs is wrong Cinder also shows that the generalization of Lunars is incorrect. She herself is a Lunar but is nothing like the dictator Levana. This idea is explored more throughout the series as the characters cross paths with more Lunars and Cinder comes to realize what exactly being Lunar means.


Critical reception to Cinder has been mostly positive,[3] with the Los Angeles Times calling the book "refreshing" and praising the character of Cinder.[4] Publishers Weekly also positively reviewed the book, saying that the characters "easy to get invested in".[5] Booklist called Cinder a "fresh spin on "Cinderella,"".[6] The Wall Street Journal wrote that the book was an "undemanding and surprisingly good-natured read".[7] Kidz World stated that Cinder was "an amazing story about love that comes in mysterious packages".[8]

Kirkus Reviews wrote that the telepathic-enslaver theme was "simplistic and incongruous-feeling" but said that Cinder "offers a high coolness factor".[9] The Horn Book Magazine wrote that Cinder's reveal was predictable but that the book's "twists and turns, complex characters, and detailed world-building to redeem itself".[10] wrote that "while Cinder does have its flaws, it’s a solidly entertaining story, and one of the best re-imaginings of Cinderella I’ve seen in ages."[11]

Interviewed at the Bologna Children's Book Fair (Bologna, Italy) in 2012, the author revealed the origin of her novel. She being a "fairy tale geek", she has spent considerable time tracing the origins of the most common Western children's stories. Apparently, the first version of Cinderella was written in China in the 9th century (this justifies the fact that Cinderella was the only one able to wear the lost shoe: small feet were considered attractive in ancient China, so the point is that the young lady had the smallest feet in the world). For this reason, Marissa Meyer decided to set her futuristic version in New Beijing, in order to "close the circle" and re-take the story to its original place. In addition to that, the decision to make Cinder a cyborg started from a hilarious thought: the idea came to her mind that, instead of losing a shoe, Cinderella might lose a whole foot on the stairs.

Sequels and adaptations[edit]

There are five books in The Lunar Chronicles. The second book in the series, Scarlet, is based on Little Red Riding Hood.[12] The third book, Cress, is based on Rapunzel.[13] Book 3.5 which was released in January 2015 is called Fairest, acts as the fourth book and is a prequel focusing on the main antagonist, Queen Levana.[14] The fifth one (officially book four) is called Winter and was released in November 2015.[15] Both Winter and Fairest are loosely based on the story of Snow White. Meyer has also released three free short stories via the website Wattpad. These are entitled Glitches - set prior to Cinder, The Queen's Army - set just before Scarlet, and The Little Android which is based on Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid.[16] Stars Above, a Lunar Chronicles collection was released in February 2016.[17] This collection included nine stories, five of which have never been published and an excerpt of Marissa Meyer's stand alone novel, Heartless, which will be released November 2016.[18]

Meyer has confirmed there has been interest in a movie adaptation of Cinder and has signed a deal for the movie, although the studio is being kept secret. The author states the studio is currently searching for a director.[19]


  1. ^ Lodge, Sally (15 December 2011). "Feiwel and Friends Rolls Out 'Cinder' in High Style". Publishers Weekly. 
  2. ^ "Cinder Book One in the Lunar Chronicles". IndieBound. 
  3. ^ Schlichenmeyer, Terri (17 January 2012). "Marissa Meyer's futuristic fairy tale features the most incredible cliff-hanger ever". Las Vegas Review-Journal. 
  4. ^ Susan, Carpenter (1 January 2012). "Not Just for Kids: 'Cinder'". Los Angeles Times. 
  5. ^ "Children's Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer". Publishers Weekly. 
  6. ^ "Booklist Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer". Booklist. (subscription required (help)). 
  7. ^ Gurdon, Meghan Cox (31 December 2011). "Prince Charming Among the Cyborgs". The Wall Street Journal. 
  8. ^ "Book Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer". Kidz World. 
  9. ^ "CINDER By Marissa Meyer". Kirkus Reviews. 15 November 2011. 
  10. ^ "Horn Book Magazine: Cinder". Horn Book Magazine. January 2012. 
  11. ^ Jones, Michael M. (3 January 2012). "The Cyborg Cinderella: Cinder by Marissa Meyer". 
  12. ^ Meyer, Marissa. "Scarlet". 
  13. ^ Meyer, Marissa. "Cress". 
  14. ^ Meyer, Marissa. "Fairest: Levana's Story". 
  15. ^ Meyer, Marissa. "Winter". 
  16. ^ Meyer, Marissa. "Short Stories". 
  17. ^ "Books". The Lunar Chronicles. MacMillan. 
  18. ^ "Heartless". Heartless. MacMillan. 
  19. ^ Truitt, Brian (31 July 2013). "Cover reveal, excerpt and Q&A: Marissa Meyer's 'Cress'". USA Today. 

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