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

Title:  Cinder
Author:  Marissa Meyer
Series:  The Lunar Chronicles #1
Publisher:  Feiwel and Friends, an imprint of Macmillan
Publication Date:  January 3, 2012
Pages:  387
Format/Source:  Hardback/Purchased
Age Group/Genre:  Young Adult/Science Fiction, Fairy Tale Retelling

   Sixteen-year-old Cinder is considered a technological mistake by most of society and a burden by her stepmother. Being cyborg does have its benefits, though: Cinder’s brain interface has given her an uncanny ability to fix things (robots, hovers, her own malfunctioning parts), making her the best mechanic in New Beijing. This reputation brings Prince Kai himself to her weekly market booth, needing her to repair a broken android before the annual ball. He jokingly calls it “a matter of national security,” but Cinder suspects it’s more serious than he’s letting on.
      Although eager to impress the prince, Cinder’s intentions are derailed when her younger stepsister, and only human friend, is infected with the fatal plague that’s been devastating Earth for a decade. Blaming Cinder for her daughter’s illness, Cinder’s stepmother volunteers her body for plague research, an “honor” that no one has survived.

   But it doesn’t take long for the scientists to discover something unusual about their new guinea pig. Something others would kill for. (From the jacket flap)

My Kind of Book…

When I first heard about Cinder, I heard that it was a fairy tale retelling of Cinderella.  I really enjoyed the retellings that I’ve read, like the Wicked Years series by Gregory Maguire, and Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, also by Gregory Maguire.  There are a lot of retellings on my TBR list, so I was intrigued by Cinder.  Then I heard that Cinder (aka Cinderella) was a cyborg. Wait, what?  You’re telling me it’s a fairy tale retelling and it’s Science Fiction? That in itself was enough to make me want to read it.  I added it to my TBR list and then forgot about it until the publication date rolled around, and the reviews started flowing on my Google reader.  When I read some of the reviews (if you’d like to read one where the blogger wasn’t so sure about the premise upon picking it up, read this one at Hughes Reviews), I realized that I needed this book RIGHT THEN.  Luckily I had just had a birthday and had a Barnes & Noble gift card burning a hole in my wallet.  

Let the Gushing Begin…

It’s only February, but I’m already calling it:  this is my favorite book of 2012!  I know that seems a little premature, but believe me, it’s that good.

It took me a bit to get into the story, but that’s my only complaint.  And I really don’t think it’s the author’s fault – I had just finished A Million Suns by Beth Revis and I think my mind was still aboard the Godspeed, so it took me a minute to get my head into this new location and story.  But once I got into it, man did it do crazy things to my head.

There’s one scene where Cinder goes to a junkyard along with her android assistant, Iko, and her stepsister, Peony.  This scene really brought me into the book with full force, because I could actually see these characters in my head, and I could imagine this scene completely.  I still don’t know exactly what the characters look like, but I got a great sense of their location, their body language, and their actions in this scene.  It was so visual that I can completely see this series being adapted into film.  (And let me say that I will be one of those fangirls standing in the ticket line overnight for those movies!)  That scene, along with the scenes that preceded it, reminded me a lot of the show Firefly.  I was excited to find out that Marissa Meyer is a huge Firefly fan and the show actually helped inspire the series!

I loved Cinder.  I thought she was a strong protagonist, and while she is considered an outcast, she’s not whiny about it.  She doesn’t agree with the fact that she’s treated as a second-class citizen, but she has zero “oh, poor me” inner dialogues.  She was complex, smart, sarcastic and humble.  And she had a bit of a temper at times, but her anger was always completely warranted.

The secondary characters were great, too.  Iko and Prince Kai and Peony were the kinds of characters that you want to hang out with on a daily basis. Dr. Erland and Torrin were mysterious and interesting, and Adri and Queen Levana were the ultimate villains.  Each character was complex in their own way, and I never questioned anyone’s actions, except for the instances when you’re supposed to question them.  

Complexity Abounds…

What I really want to get across in this review is the fact that this story would have been awesome if it was just a fairy tale retelling where Cinderella is a cyborg.  That would have been enough.  But Marissa Meyer didn’t stop there. This is no simple fairy tale retelling.  

It’s set in New Beijing in the distant future.  There’s a plague.  There are people called Lunars who have evolved from humans who colonized the moon.  The Lunars can control the minds of others.  And intertwined through all that is the story of a girl who wants to go to a ball.  

This story is so complex that I took seven pages of notes.  I had theories every five pages for about half of the book.  And these theories, they weren’t me thinking, “Oh, yeah, I’ve got it figured out already,” – I was thinking, “Oh crap, is she?” and “Could this be?” and “Shiz, does he know?!?”  I don’t want to give away too much, so sorry that I couldn’t expand those theories.  What I mean was that I hadn’t figured things out early, I simply had theories that I was excited about, and although many of them turned out to be true, I wasn’t at all disappointed that they were correct.  

The thing I love about Gregory Maguire’s Wicked Years series is that it’s not simply a retelling of The Wizard of Oz from the Wicked Witch of the West’s point of view – the story is meaty with the witch’s background, politics, government, civil rights issues, etc.  This is the case with Cinder as well.  Yes, the story of Cinderella is there, and it’s a clever retelling.  But added to that backbone is a full, complex story of its own that had me gushing about the book to my husband, my friends, and even to myself.

In case you couldn’t guess, here’s my rating for Cinder by Marissa Meyer:

Five gigantic stars.  If I could give it more, I would.  If the rest of this series is as good as this book, it will surpass The Hunger Games series for me (which is currently my #2 favorite series, with Harry Potter being #1).  It’s that good.

Find it:  Goodreads │ Amazon │ Macmillan
Disclaimer:  I purchased this book myself.  I was not compensated in any way for this review.



  1. Andrea @ Cozy Up

    February 15, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    Great review! I absolutely loved this book. I have to say Iko was one of my favourite characters, she was so cute! This is definitely a great book. I'm interested to see what happens next.

    1. Andrea @ The Overstuffed Bookcase

      February 15, 2012 at 7:08 pm

      Thanks! Yeah, Iko was great! I can't wait for the other books. Ugh, we have to wait a year! :( Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Mackenzie @ Oh, For the Love of Books!

    February 15, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    I'm so glad you love this book! I absolutely adored it too! Iko was hilarious! I'd absolutely love to have her as a friend :) Although I did figure out the reveal early on, I agree on the fact that it didn't bother me that I was correct because the story itself was still interesting. I love the mix of sci-fi and fairy tales. And personally, I'm glad that this book only used the story of Cinderella as a basis, but doesn't let it take center stage. Glad you enjoyed it and great review!

    Mackenzie @ Oh, For the Love of Books!

    1. Andrea @ The Overstuffed Bookcase

      February 15, 2012 at 7:10 pm

      Thanks! Yeah, Iko was great! And YES! The mix of SF and fairy tales is so cool – I'm surprised I haven't read something like it before! Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Anna

    February 15, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    "Let the gushing begin" … yes! LOOOOOOVE it!

    1. Andrea @ The Overstuffed Bookcase

      February 15, 2012 at 7:54 pm

      Hahaha! Yeah, I think I may have gushed a bit more in my review of TFiOS, but Cinder has actually surpassed that one as my favorite of the year (so far). I loved both of them, but Cinder is definitely more my kind of book. Thanks so much for stopping by! ;)

  4. Nicole

    February 15, 2012 at 10:59 pm

    Fantastic review! :D I just finished Cinder and I have to agree that it's a pretty awesome read.

    1. Andrea @ The Overstuffed Bookcase

      February 16, 2012 at 4:12 am

      Thanks! I loved it so much, I just want to shove it in the hands of everyone I know! ;) Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Erika

    February 15, 2012 at 11:04 pm

    I just bought this book today. I'm so excited about it. I'm not reading your review yet because I don't want to know anything. I'm excited to see yet another 5-star rating for this though! Thanks for stopping by my blog today :)

    1. Andrea @ The Overstuffed Bookcase

      February 16, 2012 at 4:14 am

      I totally know what you mean. When I'm about to read a book, or in the middle of one, or about to write a review, I don't want to read other reviews because I'm worried it'll either affect the way I read the book or I'll subconsciously paraphrase their review! I hope you like it, and I'm looking forward to your review! And thanks for stopping by here! ;)

  6. Erica

    February 17, 2012 at 5:50 am

    I really enjoyed this one – I cannot wait for book 2 :)

    1. Andrea @ The Overstuffed Bookcase

      February 17, 2012 at 9:44 pm

      I know! I'm so sad that we'll have to wait a year for book 2, then another year for book 3, then another one for book 4! But that's how these things go, I guess. Thanks for stopping by! ;)

  7. Sophie

    February 17, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    I'm glad you liked it just as much as I did! For me it's also a 2012 favorite. Oh my gosh, I LOVED it (sorry, sometimes I get caught up in my fangirling lol). Oh, and by the way, I know I already told you, but I can't get over how cute your blog design is :)

    1. Andrea @ The Overstuffed Bookcase

      February 17, 2012 at 9:46 pm

      I know, I could fangirl about this one all day! Thanks so much for the kind words and for stopping by! ;)

  8. Devan @ Book Strings

    February 19, 2012 at 3:44 am

    Thanks for visiting Book Strings the other day and commenting! I completely understand what you were saying about why parents are often absent for the teens in the novel to grow esp. in certain genres. I haven't read Cinder yet, but all I've seen is positive reviews so far. At first I wasn't sure this would be for me, which is odd because I love fairy tale retellings. I guess I wasn't too sure about the Sci-fi aspect. I'm always looking for books that will take me out of my comfort genre zone. Great review. And I loved that you use the word Shiz; how very Wicked of you (my fav. musical btw). :)

    1. Andrea @ The Overstuffed Bookcase

      February 19, 2012 at 5:26 am

      I'm glad you understood what I was trying to say – I wasn't sure if I was articulating it very well. You should definitely pick up Cinder if you love fairy tale retellings! I love Sci-Fi myself, so that part was great for me.
      Ha, you picked up on the Shiz thing! I say that a lot – I think it kind of evolved over time from shiz-nit (you know how Snoop Dogg used to say that) and then I read Wicked and loved it, and then I heard Jason Mraz say shiz on one of his live CDs and thought that it was kind of funny on two levels: one being the whole Snoop Dogg way of cursing and then another giving homage to Wicked. I still haven't seen that musical, although the rest of my family has! :( One of these days I'll get to see it!!
      Thanks so much for stopping by!

  9. Allison

    February 20, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    I had a few more issues with this one than you did, I'm glad you ended up loving it!

    Cinder was definitely a super compelling and original character. I'm definitely looking forward to more of this world in the following books of the series.

    1. Andrea @ The Overstuffed Bookcase

      February 20, 2012 at 9:11 pm

      Yeah, I can't wait for the rest of the series! Thanks so much for stopping by! ;)

  10. fakesteph

    February 21, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    I seriously can't wait to read this… Maybe I'll buy it at the airport…

  11. Andrea @ The Overstuffed Bookcase

    February 21, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    For some reason my reply button doesn't want to work, so this is in response to fakesteph.

    DO IT!!! JUST BUY IT!!! SERIOUSLY!!! Okay, I'll stop with the all caps. But seriously, this book is so amazing. If you like fairy tale retellings, get it. If you like fairy tale retellings AND Science Fiction, you must buy it now!!! I feel like an enabler. ;)

  12. LHughes

    February 25, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    Thanks for the shout out :)

    I agree with pretty much everything you wrote, especially about the complexity of the story. I sort of wish there were another cover of Cinder that was more "guy friendly" because I thought there was enough complexity to the story that it would appeal to guy readers as well. But I can't see any guy wanting to be seen with a book with a sexy red heel on the front. I guess guys can read the eBook…haha

    Great review! So glad you loved it as much as I did! No we must wait for Scarlet… boo.
    Lauren @ Hughes Reviews

    1. Andrea @ The Overstuffed Bookcase

      February 25, 2012 at 11:41 pm

      Yes, a guy-friendly cover would be great! Maybe when the paperback comes out?

      I'm so ready for Scarlet RIGHT NOW!!!!

  13. Kayla Graham

    April 2, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    LORDY! What an amazing review, I want to run to my bookshelf NOW and pick up Cinder to read it!!! But I can't :/ I have to finish my review books first, but you better believe when I finish it will be the first book I pick up :D Your review made me want to read it so much! I usually get bored reading people's reviews, but not with yours :D Thanks so much for sharing!!!

    1. Andrea @ The Overstuffed Bookcase

      April 2, 2012 at 8:12 pm

      Awww, thanks for such kind words! Yeah, you should definitely read it as soon as you get a chance!

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