Cinder Summary & Study Guide
SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides for challenging works of literature. This 58-page guide for “Cinder” by Marissa Meyer includes detailed chapter summaries and analysis covering 38 chapters, as well as several more in-depth sections of expert-written literary analysis. Featured content includes commentary on major characters, 25 important quotes, essay topics, and key themes like Social Hierarchy: Humans, Cyborgs, and Androids and Sacrifice.
The fairytale “Cinderella” provides the foundation for Marissa Meyer’s 2012 novel Cinder, which puts a futuristic and dystopian twist on the classic tale of love and the complexities of social class. Cinder lives her life as a cyborg: she is part human and part machinery. Although part of a social class that takes a place low on the social hierarchy, Cinder uses her personal machine structure to benefit her work as a mechanic. Equipped with work gloves, boots, cargo pants, and grease, Cinder attempts to hide her cyborg status under her work apparel, knowing the judgment that awaits, should others learn of her true nature.
Cinder shares her skills at the local market, manning a booth to work with customers in need of fixing their various mechanical and technological items. Set in the year 126, T.E., a time beyond World War IV, technology invades the landscape of this story, a story. Gasoline-powered cars are perceived as archaic and now only take up space in the junkyard. It is through her business that Cinder earns money for her household and meets Prince Kai, the next emperor of the Eastern Commonwealth.
Prince Kai and Cinder both experience restricted freedoms due to their respective positions in society. Prince Kai’s father, Emperor Rikan, dies of the plague, called letumosis, which spreads across New Beijing and the rest of Earth. He struggles with the pressures of the new role and often confides in Cinder, including the growing concern about Queen Levana, queen of Luna, the moon. Queen Levana wishes to marry Prince Kai not for love but for the power associated with the position of empress. Prince Kai and all other Earthens fear the queen due to her and other Lunars’ ability of manipulating the thoughts of others, including the queen’s deceptive beauty. As the story progresses, Prince Kai must choose between his own desires, marrying the queen in order to avoid war, and saving his citizens from the plague of letumosis.
As a cyborg living in a home with those who resent her, Cinder faces obstacles to her freedom in many forms. Her stepmother, Adri, and stepsister, Pearl, view her as a thing rather than a person. They allow her to remain in the family because she is the sole income provider. Cinder’s younger stepsister and friend, Peony, becomes sick with letumosis, a fate for which Adri blames Cinder. Adri takes out her blame by volunteering Cinder for the cyber draft: forced research participation to find a cure for the plague, at the cost of cyborg life.
The idea of dying as a result of the cyborg draft scares and angers Cinder; however, she not only survives the process, but learns about her true identity. Dr. Erland, lead letumosis researcher, admires Cinder’s mechanical structures, and through his research, Cinder discovers that she is not only cyborg but also Lunar. Cinder’s Lunar nature saves her—she is innately immune to the plague—and offers her the chance to save others.
Prince Kai and Cinder routinely see each other at the palace, which is both Kai’s home and the location of the letumosis research. Reciprocal feelings develop between the two, but Cinder guards who she is, fearing the inevitable rejection once Kai learns of her cyborg and Lunar identities. Kai asks Cinder to accompany him to the celebratory ball, a request she declines with regret.
On the night of the ball, Cinder’s original plan to avoid the festivities changes with news that Queen Levana plans to kill Kai, who is now emperor, and take over the Eastern Commonwealth. Cinder conveys the information to Emperor Kai, but in the process, she is exposed as cyborg and Lunar, resulting in both rejection by Kai and imprisonment as a Lunar fugitive on Earth.