Cinder: The Lunar Chronicles, Book 1 Book Poster Image

Cinder: The Lunar Chronicles, Book 1

Cinderella as a futuristic cyborg. Pretty cool.
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What parents need to know

Educational value

Readers can look at the original Cinderella and see how this book plays with it. They can also look at the book's future society and compare it with other science-fiction imaginings. The Uglies series is a good place to start.

Positive messages

A huge question posed in a political crisis: Should there be peace at all costs, or is it more important that people are free? Also, what does it mean to be human, and who deserves all the same rights as a human? Many in this society don't believe that a being that's part machine or metal deserves the same rights.

Positive role models

Despite Cinder's second-class status as both a cyborg and an orphan who's the ward of someone cruel and controlling, she still has a good heart and is willing to put herself in danger for those she cares about. She's also a renowned mechanic whose trade supports her whole family. Prince Kai is another selfless character when it comes to protecting his country.


A pandemic threatens the planet, and those who are quarantined die quickly, IDs in their wrists cut out. Cinder's adoptive father died of it years ago, her stepsister is taken suddenly when she develops symptoms, and Prince Kai watches his father die of it. Cinder's body is sent for testing against her will, and machines even access her brain. There are mentions of those killed in a fire and in a vehicle accident, and lower-class moon dwellers are killed by the queen. A guard is shot, and a servant turns a knife on herself when brainwashed.


One kiss and some innuendo, mostly about "escort droids." Talk that the Lunar race isn't known for its monogamy.

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Drinking, drugs, & smoking
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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.

Families can talk 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?

Book details

Author:Marissa Meyer
Genre:Science Fiction
Topics:Princesses and fairies, Fairy tales, Misfits and underdogs, Space and aliens
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Feiwel and Friends
Publication date:January 3, 2012
Number of pages:400

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Teen, 14 years old Written bygeekybookaddict July 18, 2012

I can't wait for the rest of the Lunar Chronicles!!

This novel is a hauntingly beautiful retelling of the classic Cinderella, but it has its own twists and variations. In a futuristic world where a civilization has developed on the moon, Cinder and Prince Kai are teens with romantic feelings towards each other. However, unlike most teen-level novels these days, there is a surprising lack of foul language or sexual content (I will read almost anything fictional or sci-fi, with a preference for supernatural novels, so I've read many of the current teen "hot" novels, whether they are in my age range or not). I spotted one use of a variation of "d-mn" (I don't remember which one, it could've been d-mnit or d-mned) and for the sexy stuff, there was talk about Cinder's ovaries, which were mentioned in a scientific and non-sexual way, and also something about "glamour" making the queen look attractive phisically (she tries to seduce Kai using the same glamour). My teachers have told me that my reading material is really mature for my age, and this frankly seems like something that would've been appropriate to me when I was ten, but taking into account that the book focuses on a widespread disease that kills people in days (it lends a dark undertone to the novel), I would say that it would be appropriate for the average twelve year old with regards to maturity and a slightly adultlike understanding of the world.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Kid, 12 years old March 2, 2012

Great Science-Fiction draws on Cinderella tale for captivating read!

Cinder is an interesting combination of a futuristic sci-fi and fairy tale, which, surprisingly, works extremely well. This book makes you look at the common-place Cinderella story in a way you never have before. Set in "New Beijing" the story has stronger ties to the original Chinese Cinderella then the European version which we know better. While the book itself is not rich with educational details, it makes one think. The book does not explicitly tie in to any particular event in history, however, Cinder, being a cyborg, is considered an inferior to the 100% human citizens of New Beijing, and this gets proven in a couple of distressing ways. For example, a deadly plague is sweeping the world, and cyborgs are used a guinea pigs, since they're considered not human -- which they aren't fully, but they still think, feel, and care the way humans do. This raises a few questions that have been very important in history: Is every human a "person"? How should "people" be treated? Is is okay to have citizens who don't have the same rights just because they're different? However, despite these setbacks, Cinder is brave and cares about helping her stepsister, Peony, and friends (what she has of them, that is). There is a strong message of freedom, and the book questions if you are truly safe in a world where being safe may mean that you aren't free. There is minimal violence, however, this book is not suitable for very young readers. A deadly disease kills people quickly, and Cinder is sent -- against her will -- to help them try to find a cure. The Lunar queen kills her subjects, and those who escape don't find a better life on Earth. Sci-fi and fantasy fans alike will enjoy this book as it draws heavily on both.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Adult Written byvishnu April 22, 2015
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models