Cinder Summary

Cinder, loosely inspired by the story of Cinderella, is a futuristic novel about a sixteen-year-old cyborg named Cinder.

  • After a mysterious childhood accident orphans Cinder and leaves her a cyborg, she is ostracized by society and her adoptive family.
  • New Beijing, Cinder's home, faces twin threats: a deadly plague called letumosis and the Lunars, a race of highly-evolved humans who have colonized the moon.
  • When the emperor’s son seeks Cinder out for her skill as a mechanic, she is swept up in the growing conflict between the people of Earth and the people of the moon,


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Last Updated on September 24, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1708


Cinder, published in 2012, is author Marissa Meyer's first novel. This young adult science fiction novel has been met with generally positive reviews from publications such as the Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal. Loosely based on the fairytale Cinderella, it is the first entry in Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles series, which explores the relationship between Earthens, who inhabit Earth, and Lunars, former Earthens who colonized the moon and, over time, began developing mind-control abilities. Each book in the series is a reimagining of a classic fairytale. 

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Cinder, set on a plague-riddled Earth, follows 16-year-old Cinder as she deals with the social reality of being a cyborg in a world that considers her a second-class citizen. When Cinder’s reputation as a mechanic leads a prince to ask for her help, she unwittingly becomes entangled in the intergalactic conflict between Earthens and Lunars. As she struggles to find balance between her abusive stepfamily, her obligations to Earth, and her own desires, the mysteries surrounding her own identity begin to unravel, forcing Cinder to question everything she thought she knew. 

Plot Summary

Cinder opens in a bustling marketplace in futuristic New Beijing. Linh Cinder is a talented mechanic whose services are highly respected. However, because she is a cyborg, she is mistreated by her adoptive family and the prejudiced citizens of New Beijing. As Cinder waits for her android, Iko, to return with a new foot to replace the one Cinder has outgrown, a customer arrives and asks her to repair his android. Cinder recognizes the customer as Prince Kai, heir to the throne of the Eastern Commonwealth. After running initial diagnostics on the prince’s android, Cinder tells him that she needs more time to fix it and that he should return the following week. 

The market closes early after a baker contracts letumosis, a highly contagious and deadly plague. When Cinder returns home, her stepmother, Adri, is having Cinder’s stepsisters, Peony and Pearl, fitted for new dresses for the upcoming ball, which Cinder is not allowed to attend. 

While Adri scolds Cinder for not repairing the family hovercraft, Prince Kai broadcasts a speech, reassuring people that royal scientists are researching a cure for letumosis. The current emperor, Kai’s father, is also infected, which makes finding a cure a matter of urgency. Cinder worries about being forced to participate in plague research, because the government drafts cyborgs as test subjects. None of them ever survive. 

In order to repair the family hovercraft, Cinder goes to the junkyard to salvage parts. Her stepsister Peony, Cinder’s only human friend, decides to join her. Cinder tells Peony about meeting Prince Kai, and Peony laments the rumors of his upcoming marriage to Queen Levana. Levana is the queen of the Lunar people, former Earthens who colonized the moon and developed the ability to manipulate bioelectricity, which allows them to control the minds and feelings of others. After the death of her older sister Queen Channary, Levana had Channary’s daughter Selene killed in order to secure the throne for herself. However, some conspiracy theorists believe that Princess Selene survived and is...

(The entire section contains 1708 words.)

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