Cinder is a retelling of Cinderella. The book is set in the Eastern Commonwealth, which is kind of like a futuristic China. Cinder is the country’s best mechanic. But because of a childhood accident—one she can’t remember—she’s also a cyborg and considered a second-class citizen. After the death of the man that adopted her, Cinder is left to the cruelty of her stepmother and stepsister. Her only friend is Iko, the family’s android. That is until Kai, the Emperor of the Commonwealth, shows up at her shop.
Kai becomes Emperor of the Commonwealth after his beloved father’s untimely death, brought upon by the plague revenging his country. But it appears that the Lunars have developed an antidote.
The Lunars live on the moon. Many years ago the moon was colonized by Earth, and overtime the people that lived there became Lunars and developed the ability to control people’s bioelectricity—basically what people see, feel, think and do. Luna is ruled by Queen Levana who is power hungry and crazy manipulative. She refuses to sign a peace treaty with Earth or handover the letumosis antidote unless Emperor Kai marries her.
The Lunar Chronicles has been a thing for a while now, but I was really hesitant to start the series because of the whole cyborg/android/space aspect. It’s just not really my thing. That being said, I absolutely adored this book and binge read the next three books.
The world was super interesting and unique. It helped differentiate Cinder from the Cinderella we all know. First were in the future, years after a world war that ended with all of Earth’s nations becoming allies. But also, the plague aspect of the book was well thought out and cool. Then there’s Luna. We never actually visit Luna in this book, but the threat of it is ever-present and there are a handful of Lunars that we see on Earth.
So in case you missed it, Luna is a country founded on the moon and is ruled by the evil Queen Levana. Lunars have the ability to control other people’s thoughts, feelings, and actions against their will. This makes the Lunars super cool but also scary, especially Queen Levana.
I really hated her. Levana is conniving, power hungry, and cruel. She refuses to show people what she really looks like, always projecting a beautiful glamour. Levana basically gives Kai the ultimatum of marry her or war. But I was supposed to hate her, in this way she’s a brilliantly written character.
Then there’s Cinder. Originally, I was super hesitant to read this series because I knew that the protagonist was a cyborg. Basically Cinder was in an accident when she was young, the only way to save her was to give her a metal foot and hand as well as a cybernetic infrastructure. She receives comms—basically texts—on a retina display and can think of something and have the answer pop up on the display as well. I mean how useful is that. She also can’t cry or blush. She was adopted by a family in the Eastern Commonwealth and was made a ward—because cyborgs basically have no rights.
I loved that Cinder was a mechanic. I mean you don’t read a lot of books with girl mechanics, but also it just seemed to fit Cinder’s personality really well. She doesn’t care what she looks like, often covered in grease, and just really enjoys tinkering with things. Cinder is also super loyal to the people she cares about. I admire this trait so much. I also like that Meyer gave her a sense of humor, which mostly comes out between in scenes between her and her android Iko or Emperor Kai.
“I’m sure I’ll feel much more grateful when I find a guy who thinks complex wiring in a girl is a turn-on.”
Iko was a gem. She’s the family’s android, but Cinder’s stepmother and stepsister Pearl dislike her because of a “faulty personality chip.” The faulty personality chip really just makes her a lot more fun, gossipy, and sarcastic. She was a great sense of comic relief after some more tense scenes. She’s really Cinder’s only friend besides her stepsister Peony.
Speaking of family, Cinder’s stepmother Adri is hateful and cruel. She really resents Cinder and blames her for her husband’s death. I guess the stepmother being evil shouldn’t be surprising, since the story is based off of Cinderella. The same goes for her stepsister Pearl. What I liked, was that Cinder’s other stepsister Peony was actually her friend and very sweet.
Moving on to our prince, or should I say Emperor. The moments between Kai and Cinder were really adorable and I wanted so much more. I liked how they were very natural around each other. Cinder stayed true to who she was and Kai acted just like a boy interested in a girl and not an Emperor. The scenes between them had a lot of banter and humor. Plus he was super persistent.
I also liked how he had a purpose other than just fufilling the prince role in Cinderella. Kai’s faced with real conflict when it comes to the Lunars and the plague ,and oftentimes what he wants is positioned against what’s best for his country.
Okay I just said how awesome the book is, but there are a couple of reasons I gave it four-and-a-half stars instead of five. The beginning was kind of slow for me, it took a good one-hundred plus pages for me to get really sucked in. The way names were used was also super confusing, like last before first or something. I don’t know, it only happened in more formal situations. Also, not necessarily a drawback, but there was a lot of foreshadowing. Now I like this because I can kinda of guess ahead and figure out everything, which makes me feel smart. But, I didn’t like how in the case of Cinder I basically pieced together a lot of the plot and surprises fairly early in the book.
All in all, this book was amazing and The Lunar Chronicles has quickly become one of my favorite series. You can find Cinder on Amazon and the author Marissa Meyer at marissameyer.com. Give it a read and let me know what you think in the comments. Plus leave recommendations for my next book!
“Even in the Future the Story Begins with Once Upon a Time.”