Cinder (novel)

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Cinder (Official Book Cover) by Marissa Meyer.png
Book cover of Cinder
AuthorMarissa Meyer
Cover artistRich Deas
CountryUnited States
SeriesThe Lunar Chronicles
GenreYoung adult, romance, science fiction, dystopian
PublisherFeiwel & Friends
Publication date
January 3, 2012
Media typePrint (hardcover and paperback), audiobook, e-book
LC ClassPZ7.M571737 Cin 2012[1]
Followed byScarlet 

Cinder is the 2012 debut young adult science fiction novel of American author Marissa Meyer, published by Macmillan Publishers through their subsidiary Feiwel & Friends. It is the first book in The Lunar Chronicles and is followed by Scarlet. The story is loosely based on the classic fairytale Cinderella.[2] Cinder was selected as one of IndieBound's Kids' Next List for winter 2012.[3]


The story is set in a futuristic city, New Beijing, when the countries of the world have re-organized to form various new empires and alliances and the Moon has been colonized. Asia is now an emperor-ruled country known as the Eastern Commonwealth. Letumosis, a fatal disease started by the Lunars and nicknamed the "Blue Fever," is raging throughout the world and the cure is unknown. The protagonist, Linh Cinder, is a cyborg who operates a mechanic stall at a local street market in New Beijing and lives under the guardianship of her cruel stepmother, Linh Adri along with her two stepsisters, Linh Pearl and Linh Peony. Early in the story, 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. Soon, Peony falls sick with letumosis 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 strain of letumosis, it is discovered that she is immune to the disease. Dr. Erland, the head 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 eleven, which Cinder has no memory of.

At the same time, Prince Kai's father, Emperor Rikan, dies of the plague, resulting in the prince becoming Emperor of the Eastern Commonwealth. There is pressure to create an alliance between the Earth countries and the Moon country, Luna, 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 Emperor Kai marrying Queen Levana, however, Emperor Kai wants to thwart this plan by finding someone else to marry first. He is also searching for information regarding the rightful Lunar heir, which was what his android was looking for before it broke. Earthens believed that somehow Princess Selene, the daughter of the late Lunar Queen Channary Blackburn, survived a nursery fire set up by Queen Levana. To bribe Kai into going through with the marriage, Levana brings one vial of the letumosis antidote, which Cinder attempts to save Peony with, but is too late. After Peony's death, Linh Cinder stores Peony's ID chip and takes it with her after discovering that the victims' chips are harvested after their deaths for an unknown reason. Because of this, Linh Adri punishes Cinder by smashing Iko, Cinder's companion android, to pieces and selling the valuable pieces, leaving only Iko's personality chip, and banning her from going to the annual peace ball.

Dr. Erland reveals to Cinder that she is Lunar, resulting in her immunity to letumosis. However, Cinder displays no Lunar abilities, supposedly making her a shell, or a Lunar without any bioelectricity manipulation abilities. Dr. Erland also 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 had turned against Luna after his newborn shell daughter had been taken away as per the Lunar shell infanticide laws, as shells cannot be controlled by the Lunar abilities and pose a threat to Levana. Cinder fixes Kai's android, named Nainsi, and discovers that he has been researching Princess Selene, who is believed to have been killed by her aunt, Levana, when she was a child in order to eliminate her only threat to the throne. Cinder also discovers a Lunar chip embedded in Nainsi, which was the reason for the android's initial breakdown. Through the Lunar chip, which is revealed to be used for direct communication outside the network, Cinder is contacted by a Lunar girl who warns that Levana intends to marry Kai and kill him after she becomes 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 about Levana's ulterior motives, but her identity as a cyborg and a Lunar are revealed, and she attempts to assassinate Levana, losing her foot on the stairs outside of the palace in her attempt. Kai has no choice but to arrest Cinder in the New Beijing Prison and agree to hand her over to Levana to save the Earth from Lunar attack. Later in Cinder's prison cell, Dr. Erland visits Cinder and reveals that Cinder is truly the lost Princess Selene of Luna. The badly injured baby Selene was taken to Earth in secret, where she was saved by going through the cybernetic operation. Cinder's Lunar abilities had been suppressed by a chip that her stepfather installed in her neck during the operation, however, Dr. Erland tells Cinder that he has disabled it. Cinder now knows that she is the true queen of Luna, and she must rise up against Levana and take back the throne.


  • Linh Cinder: A 16-year-old Lunar female, cyborg mechanic, and the main protagonist of The Lunar Chronicles. She is revealed to be Princess Selene Blackburn, the true heir to the Lunar throne. She is based on Cinderella.
  • Prince Kaito (Kai): 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. He is based on the Prince Charming of Cinderella's history.
  • Dr. Erland: A Lunar fugitive, who works in the palace as a Letumosis (disease) researcher, who tells Cinder about her true identity.
  • 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, and the main antagonist of the story. 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.
  • Sybil Mira: Levana's head thaumaturge, loyal to Levana and willing to do her bidding. Sybil was originally stationed in New Beijing Palace before Emperor Rikan died of letumosis.
  • Konn Torin: Royal advisor of Prince Kai
  • 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.
  • Chang Sunto: the son of Chang Sacha, contracts letumosis but is saved by the antidote that Cinder uses on him after she was too late in attempting to save Peony.
  • Nainsi: Kai's android, who was helping him research Princess Selene.


Critical reception to Cinder has been mostly positive,[4] with the Los Angeles Times calling the book "refreshing" and praising the character of Cinder.[5] Publishers Weekly also positively reviewed the book, saying that the characters "easy to get invested in".[6] Booklist called Cinder a "fresh spin on "Cinderella,"".[7] The Wall Street Journal wrote that the book was an "undemanding and surprisingly good-natured read".[8] Kidz World stated that Cinder was "an amazing story about love that comes in mysterious packages".[9]

Kirkus Reviews wrote that the telepathic-enslaver theme was "simplistic and incongruous-feeling" but said that Cinder "offers a high coolness factor".[10] 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".[11] 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."[12] Reflecting on the novel's blend of fairy tale and steampunk motifs, literary scholar Terri Doughty concludes that Meyer "rewrites the meme of female passivity as Cinder works through a process of identity formation. Compared to the novel’s female characters that use traditional markers of femininity to disguise their manipulations and cruelties, the cyborg mechanic Cinder emerges as a positive role model for girls."[13]

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. According to Meyer, "some scholars believe that a story called “Ye Xian,” which was first recorded in 9th-century China, is the original Cinderella tale and the direct ancestor to the stories we know from Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm. Additionally, some believe that the iconic lost slipper used to find the runaway girl came to us from China’s tradition of foot-binding and a culture in which women were praised for tiny feet."[14] 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 four books, a prequel novel, and a collection of novellas in The Lunar Chronicles. The second book in the series, Scarlet, is based on Little Red Riding Hood.[15] The third book, Cress, is based on Rapunzel.[16] 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.[17] The fifth one (officially book four) is called Winter and was released in November 2015.[18] 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.[19] Stars Above, a Lunar Chronicles collection was released in February 2016.[20] This collection included nine stories, five of which have never been published and an excerpt of Marissa Meyer's stand alone novel, Heartless, which was released on November 8, 2016.[21]

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.[22]


  1. ^ "Cinder." (first edition). LC Online Catalog. Library of Congress ( Retrieved 2016-10-30.
  2. ^ Lodge, Sally (15 December 2011). "Feiwel and Friends Rolls Out 'Cinder' in High Style". Publishers Weekly.
  3. ^ "Cinder Book One in the Lunar Chronicles". IndieBound.
  4. ^ Schlichenmeyer, Terri (17 January 2012). "Marissa Meyer's futuristic fairy tale features the most incredible cliff-hanger ever". Las Vegas Review-Journal.
  5. ^ Susan, Carpenter (1 January 2012). "Not Just for Kids: 'Cinder'". Los Angeles Times.
  6. ^ "Children's Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer". Publishers Weekly.
  7. ^ "Booklist Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer". Booklist.
  8. ^ Gurdon, Meghan Cox (31 December 2011). "Prince Charming Among the Cyborgs". The Wall Street Journal.
  9. ^ "Book Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer". Kidz World.
  10. ^ "CINDER By Marissa Meyer". Kirkus Reviews. 15 November 2011.
  11. ^ "Horn Book Magazine: Cinder". Horn Book Magazine. January 2012. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04.
  12. ^ Jones, Michael M. (3 January 2012). "The Cyborg Cinderella: Cinder by Marissa Meyer".
  13. ^ Doughty, Terri (2015). "Putting the punk in a steampunk Cinderella: Marissa Meyer's "Lunar Chronicles"". Filoteknos. 5: 46–58. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-01-30 – via VIUSpace.
  14. ^ "China, France, Northern Africa: Choosing the Lunar Chronicles Settings | Marissa Meyer". Retrieved 2019-03-11.
  15. ^ Meyer, Marissa. "Scarlet".
  16. ^ Meyer, Marissa. "Cress".
  17. ^ Meyer, Marissa. "Fairest: Levana's Story".
  18. ^ Meyer, Marissa. "Winter". Archived from the original on 2012-05-16.
  19. ^ Meyer, Marissa. "Short Stories". Archived from the original on 2012-07-01.
  20. ^ "Books". The Lunar Chronicles. MacMillan.
  21. ^ "Heartless". Heartless. MacMillan.
  22. ^ Truitt, Brian (31 July 2013). "Cover reveal, excerpt and Q&A: Marissa Meyer's 'Cress'". USA Today.

External links[edit]