A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is Cinderella as you've never imagined her: as a mechanic cyborg in the future. Central to the story is a deadly disease that kills off characters very close to Cinder and Prince Kai, and there are some scenes of the dying in quarantine. War is threatened by a queen of the moon, who evilly manipulates her subjects and kills off those she can't control. Cinder is a great tough-girl character who can fix anything and acts selflessly to help those in danger.
What's the story?
While manning her mechanic booth to make money for her lazy stepmother, Cinder is shocked to see Prince Kai approach her. Can she fix his tutor droid for him? A little bit of flirting later, she has the job -- and the hope that he never finds out that under one work glove, a pant leg, and a shoe, her body is melded with metal parts thanks to a horrible accident she doesn't remember. She does remember getting adopted at age 11 and her guardian dying of the dreaded letumosis, leaving her with a stepmother who despises cyborgs and Cinder's two stepsisters. Cinder thinks her stepmother's threat to volunteer her as a letumosis test subject is an empty one until one of her stepsisters gets sick and is sent to die in quarantine, right before the big ball. While Cinder thinks she's being sent to her death as well, she's in for a big surprise. It turns out she's a lot more valuable to the planet than as a simple lab rat.
Is it any good?
If you're going to mix a worldwide pandemic with imminent war against a crazed, brainwashing totalitarian leader, adding a fairy-tale mash-up is a grand way to lighten things up. There's political maneuvering and lots of talk of what-ifs that slow CINDER down, but it's easily forgiven as the ball approaches and Prince Kai tries to invite Cinder one more time. Maybe she'll change her mind? Maybe he won't mind that she's one-third machine?
Readers can only hope. Especially if they're savvy enough to guess more of Cinder's secrets. In fact, could they be too obvious? Whether or not there's a surprise ending in Cinder, there's still enough of a cliffhanger to keep readers eager for the next installment.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the fairy tale Cinderella. What's the same here? What's wildly different?
Talk about freedom vs. peace: a core concern for Prince Kai. If you had to give up one for the other, which would it be?
Cinder is another vision of a future society. How does it compare with other books set in the future? Is there a future world in a book that you wouldn't mind living in?
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
For kids who love fantasy and romance
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.