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Synopsis of Cinder

A thousand years in the future in New Beijing Cinder works in her mechanic shop when Prince Kai appears with a broken android assistant in need of some help. Cinder’s friendship with Kai deepens while spending time at the palace after being drafted to help with plague research. Politics, a plague, and a conspiracy theory help round out and bring dimension to a well-loved story.

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First Impressions

Photo of wiring
Photo by Nathaniel Sison on Unsplash

This series is a futuristic, steampunk, fairy-tale retelling. I am a huge fan of fairy-tale remixes like Beastly by Alex Flinn, Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George and so many others. For a longer list of my favorite stories with princesses and fairytales check out 10 Books to Read if You Liked Princess Academy: Princess to Empower Girls. The Lunar Chronicles are awesome for grades 6+ because of language (mild profanity) and some intense action sequences.

Touchy Topics in Cinder

Cinder wears gloves to hide her cyborg hand.
Photo by Matt Seymour on Unsplash
  • Social Classes: There are multiple social classes discussed and different levels receive different treatment. One instance of social class differences is the treatment the King receives versus what Peony receives. The King receives personal treatment in a quarantined room in the palace. Cinder’s little sister Peony is in a full warehouse with others receiving treatment via med droid. There is also a very large prejudice against cyborgs. Cyborgs are second-class citizens and the property of another. There is also severe segregation occurring.
  • Step Families & Adoption: Shortly after his marriage, Cinder is adopted by her father. Soon after the adoption Cinder’s father dies. Cinder’s mother considers her as a servant rather than a part of the family. The only person who accepts Cinder in her family is her little sister Peony.
  • Plague: A Massive contagious plague is sweeping the entire earth. Later Cinder has to come to terms with the idea that she may have helped bring the plague that killed her little sister even though she is immune. The Lunars use the plague and the antidote to their advantage.
  • Oppressive parental figures: Cinder’s parental guardian isn’t the greatest and is telling her exactly what she can and can’t do include types of parts she can have that are a necessary part of her wellbeing. Kai sees something similar in his relationship with his advisor. The advisor and other senior earthen leaders attempt to pressure Kai into situations he doesn’t approve of.
  • Destiny vs Choices: This is a theme throughout the series. Cinder and Kai have certain external expectations placed upon them and they have to figure out whether it is destiny or a choice.
  • Objectification: Upper classes objectify Cyborgs due to their partial human nature. They are subject to plague testing without their consent and many other laws leaving them as second-class citizens and forever at the mercy of others.


“Even in the Future the Story Begins with Once Upon a Time.”

― Marissa Meyer, Cinder

Imagine there was a cure, but finding it would cost you everything. It would completely ruin your life. What would you do?”

― Marissa Meyer, Cinder

“Vanity is a factor, but it is more a question of control. It is easier to trick others into perceiving you as beautiful if you can convince yourself you are beautiful. But mirrors have an uncanny way of telling the truth.”

― Marissa Meyer, Cinder

My Thoughts

Photo by Alvin Mahmudov on Unsplash

This book is one of my favorites and I recommend it to anyone who likes fairy-tales. I appreciate that this is a very different retelling with a complex story arc. There is so much going on in the background and it is more than just Cinder being a cyborg keeping them apart. Be sure to continue the journey with Scarlet. Also, check out my post about the Lunar Chronicles for more about the whole series. For other books to read similar to Cinder head over to this post about Princesses to Empower Girls.

What are some of your favorite Cinderella renditions?

Happy Reading!