Cinder: The Lunar Chronicles, Book 1

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
Cinder: The Lunar Chronicles, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Cinderella as a futuristic cyborg. Pretty cool.

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 13 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 108 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

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 & Representations

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.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 11-year-old Written byPBSFanFromChile February 3, 2017
Adult Written byYaz93 July 15, 2016

Teacher's Recommendation

I don't understand why this book has been given such a low educational score. I used this book as a book study for my year 5/6 class. We compared it with o... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old October 18, 2012


CINDER IS AMAZING!!!!!! This book truly falls under the category of don't judge a book by its cover. I was recommended this book and was very hesitant to r... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old June 2, 2016


When you read this book you will HAVE to read the others so if you dont think the series is for you DONT READ IT!!!!!!! this book ends at a cliff hanger where y... Continue reading

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?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy and romance

Themes & Topics

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