Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, Book 1) by Marissa Meyer

Genre

Fantasy | Sci-Fi | Young Adult

Reasons to Love

📚fairytale retelling – Cinderella
📚futuristic, dystopian sci-fi vibes
📚one kind stepsister
📚royalty
📚magic
📚strong female lead
📚female mechanic
📚tech-y

Main Themes

Identity | Sacrifice | Overcoming

Main Characters

Cinder (Linh Cinder) | Kai (Prince Kaito) | Torin | Iko | Peony | Pearl | Adri | Dr. Erland | Thaumaturge Sybil | Queen Levana

Review

What would happen if Cinderella traded her soot-stained garments for the grease-stained mechanic’s gloves in a dystopian world? 

Enter Cinder. Amid a tense and fearful world in the Eastern Commonwealth (seems to encompass modern-day Asia), a Cyborg mechanic named Cinder is just trying to survive. Her survival isn’t just about the plague—letumosis—that has invaded the world from the Lunar kingdom, it’s about surviving even one more day with her stepmother, Adri, and her stepsisters, Pearl and Peony. Although Peony might be the only Cinderella stepsister who isn’t pure evil—in fact, she seems to be the opposite and is a bright spot for the reader and Cinder. 

Through many trials and adventures, I felt like I was viewing her through the ever-sassy Iko’s eyes. We get to see Cinder grow from a timid mechanic who is content to survive in her the space she knows to a woman who embraces her identity—no matter how scary that might seem. And along the way, she begins to open herself to new people like Prince Kai and Dr. Erland. While she feels like secrets might threaten the tenuous connections she’s beginning to build, for the first time, maybe ever, Cinder starts to hope. 

And hope can be such a dangerous thing—especially when you’re a cyborg. 

Meyer consistently pits Cinder against various foes at home (because of her wicked stepmother and stepsister) and in society (because she’s a cyborg) and with the Lunar Queen, Levana (because, well, I can’t tell you because . . . spoilers!) and even with the prince (because, again, she’s a cyborg . . . and maybe something else). Even with the constant barriers to her success, Cinder keeps pushing, and that’s what made me love her so. 

It took me a few pages to really get into the story, but it wasn’t lack of skill on Meyer’s part. I felt the tension and fear that existed in New Beijing. It’s what we all practically lived in the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. The picture Meyer painted made me view the city as full and loud and maybe a bit dirty—with plenty of technological advances not yet available to us. It was a world that simultaneously compelled me and repulsed me. With the opening scene (you’ll just have to read it), I actually thought Cinder was a prisoner whose shackles were screwed through her ankle, which was horrific enough. That wasn’t the case, though she was trapped in a manner of speaking. But from the marketplace to Cinder’s family’s apartment to the palace to the research lab and even the prison, I could see it all so easily and clearly in my mind’s-eye. (And I wonder what it looked like from your point of view?) 

The writing was clear and simple yet compelling—perfect for the YA audience. (And for your friendly neighborhood non-fiction editor in her thirties who just needs a break from heavy content.) Meyer’s storytelling made it simple to pick up on the new terms related to Cinder’s world (like hover, portscreen, etc.), and rather than retelling the same story from multiple perspectives, Cinder’s and Kai’s points of view effortlessly stream together to form the narrative.

By the time I finished the story, I craved the next one. At the end, all our characters are either making big moves or big decisions, and I felt the heady giddiness of anticipation when I thought about the next book, Scarlet. So, of course, I bought it that night from Amazon, and it arrived two days later. And I, impatient human that I am, dove right in. (But more on that soon, friends.)

Ridiculously Quotable

Fail on my part—I didn’t write down any quotes from this one. Sometimes, I get so sucked into the story, I forget to flag them. That was absolutely the case with Cinder.

My Take

Heroines don’t always look like beauty queens. They struggle and strive like the rest of us. Sometimes they’re the ones who hurt the deepest, sacrifice the most, and fail the hardest—right before they triumph.

Warnings

Language 

(None | Mild | Medium | Harsh)

Mild, there were maybe one or two uses of mild foul language in the book. 

Content

⚔️ ⚔️ 

I try to think through what might be triggering to others, and as with any Cinderella story, if you’ve been bullied or mistreated, you might find yourself wiping away some tears or reliving your own memories. Pause if you need to. Be gentle with yourself. Otherwise, yes, there’s violence and blood—there’s a crazy Lunar queen trying to take over the world.

Spice

🌶️ – embraces, near-kisses, but no more than that

Rating
⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Other Reviews on This Series

(COMING SOON!)

Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles Book 2)

Cress (Lunar Chronicles Book 3)

Winter (Lunar Chronicles Book 4)

Publisher’s Summary 

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless Lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . . Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg.

She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

About the Author

Marissa Meyer is the #1 New York Times-bestselling author of The Lunar Chronicles, Heartless, The Renegades Trilogy, and Instant Karma, as well as the graphic novel duology Wires and Nerve. She holds a BA in Creative Writing from Pacific Lutheran University and a MA in Publishing from Pace University. In addition to writing, Marissa hosts The Happy Writer podcast. She lives near Tacoma, Washington, with her husband and twin daughters.

I’d like to check out Cinder—where can I buy it?

10 Year Anniversary Hardcover Edition Purchase Links: Bookshop | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound | Chapters Indigo (Canada) |

Paperback Purchase Links: Bookshop | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound | Chapters Indigo (Canada) | iBooks

One response to “Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, Book 1) by Marissa Meyer”

  1. […] Lunar Chronicles, Book 1) by Marissa MeyerScarlet ((The Lunar Chronicles, Book 3) by Marissa MeyerWinter (The Lunar Chronicles, Book 4) by Marissa […]

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