Cinder Summary

Marissa Meyer


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Cinder Summary

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Cinder recounts the story of a teenage girl named Linh Cinder. Cinder is part human and part cyborg, having been mechanically altered at a young age from a supposed accident. The reader also finds that Cinder was orphaned at a young age, and has been taken in by a man named Linh Garan. Though the machinery added to her body makes up for her previous disabilities, and though taken in by Garan, Cinder’s life soon changes for the worse when Garan dies. His wife, Adri, not only treats Cinder inhumanely but forces the girl to work in order to support the family, which includes Cinder’s stepsisters, Peony and Pearl.

Cinder works as a mechanic, and in a short time, becomes very successful at her job. While working to support her adopted family, Cinder meets Prince Kai, the son of the Earth’s emperor. In addition to dealing with the Prince’s entreaties, Cinder must also deal with a new dilemma: a plague that begins ravaging the city. Moreover, cyborgs are now being drafted, thus adding to Cinder’s woes.

When Peony is affected by the plague, an angry Adri ships Cinder off to the cyborg draft program. It is while in the program that Cinder learns of her origins. Dr. Erland reveals to her that she is not only immune to the plague ravishing the city, she is a Lunar, which means she is part of a race originating from the moon. The moon inhabitants have been trying to make peace with Earth, with Queen Levana attempting to enact a peace by marriage to Prince Kai.

Cinder has been helping Dr. Erland with research, and her efforts result in a large payday. Cinder plans to emancipate herself from Adri with the money. Meanwhile, Adri and her other daughter, Pearl, prepare for a royal ball. At the ball, Prince Kai will actually be coroneted as king due to his father’s death from the plague. And yet he continues to flirt with Cinder, which troubles her as Prince Kai does not know that she is both cyborg and Lunar.

When Cinder receives a missive stating that Queen Levana is planning on killing Prince Kai, Cinder must decide on how to respond. She begrudgingly attends the coronation and ends up kissing Prince Kai while attempting to stop his marriage to Queen Levana. As a result, Cinder finds herself in extreme trouble. She is revealed to be what is known as a “shell,” a Lunar being who hides on Earth without Lunar powers. As Cinder feared earlier on in the novel, when Prince Kai finds this out, he abandons her.

Cinder is imprisoned, but while incarcerated, she finally learns the truth of her origins. Dr. Erland reveals to Cinder that she is actually Queen Levana’s niece, whom everyone thought dead for quite some time. More shocking, it is Cinder who had the ability to dethrone Queen Levana, and by doing so, saving both Earth and Prince Kai. As the novel ends, Cinder is told to escape and meet back up with Dr. Erland in Africa.

From the very first pages of the novel, Cinder immerses readers in a variety of themes that are relevant to both young adults and society-at-large. One of the overarching themes is that of difference, as evidenced by Cinder’s disability and social standing. Given the fact that Cinder has been injured in a purported accident, she is made part cyborg. Though she now has the ability to move and goes on to support the family, the issue of difference and disability is poignant. The novel shows how people with disabilities are sometimes viewed negatively, as is evidenced in the character of Adri, Cinder’s stepmother. The novel also shows, however, that people with so-called disabilities can rise to accomplish great things.

Cinder’s role in her adopted family also highlights the theme of discrimination that runs throughout the novel. Discrimination arises on several levels. The first is with family, as Cinder is looked down upon by Adri in a Cinderella-esque way. Cinder is forced to provide for the family and is treated cruelly by her stepmother after her stepfather, Garan, dies. The second type of discrimination evidenced in the novel is with social class. There is a marked difference between humans and cyborgs. Being both, Cinder feels the difference even more. Also, Cinder eventually learns that she is Lunar, which is an entirely different race of beings, and one that is at odds with the people of Earth. Cinder knows that, though Prince Kai flirts with her, if he finds out that she is both cyborg and Lunar, he will turn his back on her, which he does when these things are in fact revealed about Cinder.

Love and betrayal are two additional themes evidenced in the novel. Cinder experiences both while at home and out in the world. Her stepfather, Linh Garan, loves her. And yet when he dies, her stepmother Adri betrays her and forces her to be nothing better than a servant for the family. Likewise, Prince Kai seems to like Cinder, but when he finds out she is Lunar, he betrays her as well.

As a whole, Cinder’s story shows that transformation is a powerful element. Given that this is the first book in the series, readers can hope that with her newfound knowledge, Cinder can indeed transform even more and triumph by the story’s end, thus saving herself and mankind.