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Cinder is the first volume of The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer. The volume features Linh Cinder (based on the fairy tale Cinderella by the Brothers Grimm) and takes place in New Beijing, Eastern Commonwealth. It was originally published in hardcover by Feiwel & Friends on January 3, 2012.


Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, 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 letumosis. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, developing 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.


Linh Cinder is a cyborg living in New Beijing, 126 years after World War IV, with her stepmother, Linh Adri, and her two stepsisters, Pearl & Peony. Cinder owns a booth in the market place where she works as a mechanic with the family's android, Iko. While working, she meets Prince Kai of the Eastern Commonwealth who asks her to fix his android, Nainsi. After Kai leaves, the market is evacuated as a baker by the name of Chang Sacha has been infected with the plague Letumosis.

Prince Kai's father, Emperor Rikan, is currently sick with Letumosis, otherwise known as Blue Fever, a plague currently terrorizing Earth with no known survivors.

While in the junkyard looking for a new mag belt for Adri's hover, Cinder, Iko and Peony discover an old car, which Cinder plans to take home and repair. Peony then contracts the plague and is taken away. When Cinder returns home, Adri is in grief and infuriated, blaming Cinder for her daughter's imminent health condition, thinking that even though Cinder doesn't have the plague, she must have passed it from Sacha to Peony. She has Cinder taken to the palace against her will for Letumosis research. Cinder puts up a fight with the med-droids, managing to take out two, but is tasered by a third droid and is taken away unconscious.

Dr. Erland, a researcher in the palace, draws Cinder's blood and when she awakens, opens up her control panel and scans her, revealing that she is 36.28% not human. The doctor injects her with tagged Letumosis pathogens and waits for them to take effect so he can give her an antidote. After several minutes, Cinder's immune system kicks in and the pathogens disappear.

After drawing another blood sample, the doctor moves her to another lab and talks to her in person, instead of over an intercom. Cinder tries to attack him with a wrench hidden in her metal calf, but the doctor makes her feel tired and safe as she is persuaded not to. Erland tells her that she is immune to the plague and questions her about her childhood. Cinder tells him the truth, that she was in a hover crash that killed her parents when she was eleven. She was also given a control panel, a metal hand and leg to replace the limbs lost and that she does not remember anything prior to surgery. Cinder was later taken to the Eastern Commonwealth by Linh Garan, her new guardian, who died a few days after adopting her from the plague.

Kai, discouraged by his father's condition, walks down to Dr. Erland's lab, but runs into Sybil Mira in the elevator. Sybil is the head thaumaturge of Queen Levana, ruler of the moon, but is currenlty on Earth to discuss an alliance between Luna and the Commonwealth. Kai discusses Princess Selene, Queen Levana's niece and the only heir to the Lunar Crown with his adviser Konn Torin after she leaves. Selene died in a fire when she was three, but there are many theories speculating that she is hiding on Earth as they never found a body. Kai wishes to find Selene and put her on the throne instead of Levana, but Torin tells him that Selene is dead and puts the theories out of mind.

Dr. Erland asks to do a small experiment on Cinder and she agrees. Erland pinches the vertebrae above her shoulders, searching for Linh Garan's device, which knocks her unconscious. Cinder wakes up to see Dr. Erland and Prince Kai above her. She turns out to be fine and Kai helps her stand, asking what happened to her. Dr. Erland lies and tells Kai that he was just adjusting her spine and that she was at the palace to repair a med-droid. Cinder leaves after promising to comm Kai once she fixes Nainsi and that she'd be back tomorrow to check up on the med-droid. Cinder walks back to Adri's apartment, argues with Adri and reunites with Iko. Cinder then makes a plan to use the car she and Peony found to leave New Beijing.

That night, Emperor Rikan dies. Minutes after, Kai receives a comm from Queen Levana who tells him that she will be coming down to the Commonwealth to discuss an alliance with him, but finishes the message before Kai can protest.

That morning, Cinder is awoken with a comm that informs her that Peony has entered the third stage of Letumosis. Cinder goes to visit her in the quarantines, giving her a blanket and promising to find an antidote. On her way out, she encounters Chang Sacha, whom she makes a promise with to bring her son, Chang Sunto, to her, but dies shortly afterward. A med-droid wheels up to Sacha's bed, taking out a scalpel and cutting into her wrist. Cinder asks the droid what it's doing, and it replies that it is taking out Sacha's ID chip.

At the palace, Cinder meets Kai in the halls and walks with him down to the lab. Kai tells her that the Lunar Queen is coming to Earth and asks her to the annual ball. Shocked, Cinder declines, afraid he'll discover that she's a cyborg. Kai leaves as Cinder asks Dr. Erland about the med-droid who cut out Chang Sacha's ID chip.

Cinder plans not to go to the ball, but directly after Kai's coronation, Cress contacts her using the D-COMM chip that Cinder previously found hidden in Nainsi's wiring. Cress tells her that Kai is going to announce his intent to marry Levana, but that Levana plans to kill him as soon as she is crowned empress and produces an heir. Cinder drives to the ball using her escape car and as soon as she reaches the palace, crashes into a tree.

To her surprise, Cinder is announced at the ball as Kai's personal guest. Adri is infuriated and moves to strike her for her insolence, but Kai stops her and begins dancing with Cinder. She warns him of Levana's plans and is about to take him somewhere private to show him the D-COMM chip when Torin arrives and tells Kai that it's time to make the announcement.

Cinder kisses Kai, hoping that Levana will not agree to the marriage if she believes that Kai is in love with another woman. It doesn't work and she is revealed to be Lunar, though Levana and Sybil think that she is a shell. Levana manipulates Cinder into taking Jacin's gun and pointing it at her own head. She then gives Kai a choice: he can either marry her and save Cinder's life, or refuse and ensure her death. In accordance to his country's best wishes, Kai chooses not to marry Levana.

Cinder's Lunar gift, which has been slowly developing since Dr. Erland activated it, suddenly decides to make an appearance. She is able to resist Levana's manipulation and not shoot herself. She runs out of the palace and starts down the steps, but on the fifth step, her too-small cyborg foot disconnects and she falls. Kai comes to realize she is both cyborg and Lunar, agreeing to imprison her until the return trip to Luna as Cinder is taken away.

While imprisoned, Dr. Erland visits her. He teaches her how to better manipulate bioelectricity and gives her a new hand & foot. He then reveals that she is Princess Selene, the lost Lunar heir. He tells her to escape and meet him in Africa, where he will be conducting research on the first cases of Letumosis.


Main Characters:[]

Supporting Characters:[]


  • Marissa Meyer's decision to make Cinder a cyborg originated from the idea that, instead of losing a shoe, Cinderella might lose a whole foot on the stairs.[citation needed]
  • Cinder happens to be Marissa Meyer's debut novel.
  • Meyer has said that she was initially inspired to write Cinder after participating in the 2008 National Novel Writing Month contest where she wrote a story focusing on a futuristic version of Puss in Boots.
  • Meyer has said that she wrote early drafts for Cinder during her commute to and from work.

Title & Cover[]

The book cover features an illustration of the lower portion of a leg wearing a red stilleto, representing Linh Cinder's limb. The stilleto draws a reference to Cinderella's glass slipper. The skin of the leg is shown transparently, revealing the shape of a metal skeleton underneath. The visible metal signifies Cinder's being cyborg.

The title of the book is the first name of the leading character featured in this volume, Linh Cinder. It also refers to the fairytale upon which the story is loosely based on.


Critical reception to Cinder has been mostly positive, with the Los Angeles Times calling the book "refreshing" and praising the character, Cinder. Publishers Weekly also positively reviewed the book, saying that the characters were "easy to get invested in." Booklist called Cinder a "fresh spin on “Cinderella.” The Wall Street Journal wrote that the book was an "undemanding and surprisingly good-natured read." Kidz World stated that Cinder was "an amazing story about love that comes in mysterious packages."

Kirkus Reviews wrote that the telepathic-enslaver theme was "simplistic and incongruous-feeling" but said that Cinder "offers a high coolness factor." The Horn Book Magazine wrote that Cinder's reveal was predictable but that the book's "twists and turns, complex characters, and detailed world-building redeemed itself." wrote that "while Cinder does have its flaws, it’s a solidly entertaining story, and one of the best re-imaginings of Cinderella I’ve seen in ages."

Awards & Nominations[]

  • YALSA Teens' Top Ten
  • Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year
  • ABC New Voices Title
  • IRA Young Adult Choices
  • Arizona Grand Canyon Young Readers Master List
  • Capitol Choices Noteworthy Titles for Children & Teens
  • Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award
  • Florida Sunshine State Young Readers Award Master List
  • Abraham Lincoln High School Book Award Master List
  • Indiana Young Hoosier Award Master List
  • Maine Student Book Award Master List
  • Nebraska Golden Sower Award Master List
  • New York Charlotte Award Master List
  • Oklahoma Sequoyah Young Adult Book Award Master List
  • Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Award Master List
  • TN Volunteer State Book Award Primary Master List
  • Tri-State Reviews Committee Books of Note - Master List

Foreign Editions[]

Cinder is translated & published in the following countries: