"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies...The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R Martin

08 October 2012

Review: Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1) - Marissa Meyer

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.

My review of Cinder (4.5/5 stars):

Cinder is a unique and glorious retelling of a beloved and timeless, classic fairytale; Cinderella. Fast paced, imaginative and utterly compelling, Cinder completely swept me off my feet as I was pulled into a tale of loyalty, treachery, secrecy and love. Despite knowing the plot of Cinderella, I still turned each page filled with excitement and anticipation, not knowing exactly what was going to happen next. Meyer successfully managed to create an original, captivating story, breathing life into an old tale by adding science and futuristic elements. Cinder is nothing like a fairytale; dark, dangerous and heart breaking in parts it played with my emotions. People die due to the plague and suffer heartache, evidently depicting Cinder as a bleak tale but there is also hope, friendship and love hiding underneath the secrecy and suffering. Despite all of this I really did enjoy the fairytale qualities within the story; a ball, prince charming, a ‘slipper’ falling off etc. Cinder is a dramatic tale that is utterly mesmerising. It kept me reading on the edge of my seat late into the night even when I was exhausted!

New Beijing was such an imaginative and realistic setting. The world building was just so creative and the futuristic world of the Earthen Union and the Eastern Commonwealth just jumped out as being so authentic and original. What I enjoyed most about the setting was the mix of old and new in regards to culture, history mixing with the new, futuristic world. The whole world felt fresh and authentic and I loved the technology and science behind everything in the new world. One of my favourite parts is when Cinder finds an old relic of the old age and works it to her advantage. I loved the futuristic aspects of the story most of all and books like Cinder are getting me hooked on science fiction more and more.

Cinder our mechanic cyborg protagonist is full of character, emotion and depth. I immediately empathised with her character as she is unloved, distrusted and prejudiced against by society simply for being different. I saw her as a young lost teenage girl with a past clouded by uncertainty, with dreams of freedom and a new start in life. Her only friends at first are Iko, the adorable and hilarious family robot (who I loved!) and her stepsister Peony who is sweet, friendly and compassionate. As the novel unfolds we meet Prince Kai who strikes up an easy friendship with Cinder. He is the perfect Prince Charming; easy-going, loveable and honourable with the fate of the Eastern Commonwealth and world upon his shoulders at a young age. I adored all of these characters and came to care for each one by the end of the story.

Meyer successfully creates an evil villain by portraying the malicious lunar queen Levana. Frighteningly beautiful, cunning and eerily mysterious, Levana dreams of dominance and is eager to form an alliance with the Commonwealth. She is cold, calculating and just plain evil. She takes pleasure in being evil and causing fear, awe and pain in others. I must admit the way she was portrayed sent a little shiver down my spine as her beauty is just so unnatural.
I found the depictions of Lunars fascinating. The Lunars are people who colonised the moon and basically went a little loony from the bio-electricity on the surface and are now magical beings with the powers of persuasion. The whole concept of the Lunars was so imaginative and original and I can’t wait to hopefully learn more about them in future books.

The other “baddies” in the novel are Adri, Cinder’s stepmother and Peony, her stepsister. Adri came across as a bitter and twisted old woman, the epitome of an evil stepmother in fairytales. But at times in the novel I did pity her but immediately I’d switch back to Cinder’s side and hate her again. Peony is in complete juxtaposition to Pearl. They are both indulgent teenage girls but Pearl is a spiteful and jealous girl who loves to remind Cinder of her place in the family and society. I just hated the way Cinder was treated and her dreams of escape and freedom became my own dreams for her. The strong feelings that I felt towards the villains in the story is just a testament to Meyer’s great characterisation.  

I managed to work out from a few chapters in what the twist in Cinder would be, but this really didn’t ruin the story for me or make it any less enjoyable. I enjoyed seeing how the story came to a conclusion and how all of the different threads came together. I wasn’t disappointed. The ending was full of tension and suspense. The last sentence in particular just resounded in my head after finishing the book and it was also so atmospheric and dramatic. The cliffhanger ending made me cry out in frustration (I just didn’t want the story to end) but as a result I am eagerly awaiting the next instalment of the Lunar Chronicles, Scarlet which is based on the Red Riding Hood fairytale.

What became clear to me as I wrote this review is how much I loved and thoroughly enjoyed Cinder. It is just pure drama and I rushed through the book devouring each page as I journeyed through the streets of New Beijing with Cinder. Cinder isn’t just a retelling of a fairytale but a story involving conflict, lies, honour, duty, friendship and love. Unique with strong characterisation, a fast paced storyline and dramatic events makes Cinder a fascinatingly compelling tale that is definitely in the top 5 books that I’ve read this year. I would highly recommend Cinder to lovers of fairytale retellings, science fiction and anyone who loves an intriguing, well written story that instantly grips you and won’t let you go until the last sentence. Cinder is just amazing and I can’t wait for Scarlet to be released in a few months! 


  1. Ohhh, I'm so glad you loved it as much as I did! Cinder is a wonderful character and the side characters were amazing as well. I'm also looking forward to the next book. I can't wait to see how Cinder's life is going to continue - and of course Red Riding Hood :D Lovely review, I totally relived this book.

  2. Ok so I read the first free 5 chapters on my kindle and it was totally good. Like you I really thought Cinder was full of character and depth and I thought the prince was really likeable right away. I like nice male love interests, there's so many indifferent or snobbish ones in YA lit right now do you think?

    Here's my question, like you I noticed the future plot twist right in the first few chapters but you say it didn't bug you. Was it always in the back of your mind whenever the author hinted at it throughout the rest of the book? Or it didn't really affect it?
    Have been on the fence of buying this book but didn't want to if knowing that part ruined the rest of it. Sorry this is a novel-length comment!

  3. I know what you mean about nice male love interests. I've just finished The Immortal Rules and there's one in there so I'd definitely recommend it :)

    It honestly didn't ruin the story for me. I don't know if it was suppose to be a clear plot device but it was quite obvious don't you think? Anyway it really didn't ruin anything and I enjoyed seeing the story leading up to it but there was one point towards the end when I thought that I was wrong. I enjoyed Cinder's journey more than anything. I would definitely recommend it, there is so much more to Cinder than just meets the eye so read it, read it :)

  4. Thanks for the info! Going to buy it and The Immortal Rules now..


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