Vaginal Fantasy Book Club discussion

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1)
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Aug 2014: He, She and It > Alternate ALT for August = Official CINDER Discussion

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Amber (puresurplus) | 53 comments The ALT for this month is not available in digital format (for US/CA).

See this thread for more information:

Cinder is pretty tame YA but has been allowed as a substitute by Felicia. Anyone else care to read this as the ALT this month and discuss here?

If you've already read this one, feel free to jump in.


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.

Discussion Questions:

1. What parallels can you draw between CINDER and the Cinderella fairy tale? What is the symbolism behind the glass slipper, the pumpkin carriage, the ball? Is there a fairy godmother in CINDER, and if so, who is it?

2. What does it mean to be human? Is it primarily physiological? Cultural? Emotional? What do you think could have led to cyborgs being perceived as less than human in Cinder’s world? What about Lunars, who evolved from a human colony? What real-world parallels can you draw between the discrimination against cyborgs and Lunars to that of race, disability, and class?

3. Cinder has many unique abilities—the ability to detect lies, to download information directly into her head, to overlay her eyesight with helpful diagrams, etc. What kinds of abilities might we want to develop from future technology? What cyborg skill would you like to have today?

4. In Cinder’s future, Earth has been conglomerated into six countries who have formed an alliance called the Earthen Union. Though Cinder lives in Asia (the Eastern Commonwealth), there is much evidence of western influence (ex., the ball gowns that are made for Peony and Pearl). Do you think this mixing of cultures is a believable result of the Earthen Union? How do you foresee cultures changing (or not) as a result of the increased communication and travel we have access to today?

5. Propaganda is used as a political tool both by Luna (ex., Sybil’s claim that the history of peace on Luna is a result of the totalitarian regime) and the Eastern Commonwealth (ex., being selected as a cyborg draft subject is an “honor”). When is it justified for a government or institution to use propaganda? When should the people of a society question what information they’re given?

6. Dr. Erland compares the arrival of Lunars and the spread of letumosis to rats carrying the bubonic plague to Europe and the Spanish conquistadors bringing smallpox to the Native Americans. Do you think these are accurate comparisons? Why or why not?

7. What is the importance of beauty (real or deceptive) in Cinder’s world? Compare the perceived beauty and/or ugliness of Queen Levana and Cinder and how this has effected how they’re treated by those around them. How is this similar or different from the way beauty is treated today?

8. In chapter 24, Prince Kai asks Cinder, “Imagine there was a cure, but finding it would cost you everything. It would completely ruin your life. What would you do?” Both Kai and Cinder face decisions that could result in sacrificing their own lives for what they perceive as a greater good. Do you believe that a person is obligated to sacrifice themselves for the sake of many? How does self-sacrifice compare to the imposed sacrifices made by cyborg draft subjects?

9. Was it right for Cinder to try to deliver the antidote to Peony first, even though there were others who also needed it? Was it right for Dr. Erland to offer her first access to the antidote? What would you have done in either situation?

10. Marissa Meyer got the idea for implanted ID chips when she saw a religious propaganda flier warning people against imbedded computer chips that would signal the coming of the apocalypse. In Cinder’s world, ID chips are so necessary to everyday life that to be without one is to stop existing on some level. What would be some of the benefits of having such an ID chip implanted in your body? What are some potential dangers?

11. What are your thoughts on Kai’s reaction when he discovered that Cinder is both a cyborg and a Lunar? How do you think he would have reacted if Cinder had told him the truth earlier in the book? Can you speculate how his feelings might change (toward Cinder, Lunars, or the cyborg draft) after the shock has worn off?

12. Each book in The Lunar Chronicles will be inspired by a different fairy tale. Can you spot references to any tales besides Cinderella within CINDER?

Gunnhildur Rúnarsdóttir (grafarholt) | 173 comments I'm starting to love the alt alt threads, I got Cinder a couple of weeks ago and now have a place to discuss it when I've read it. I have a problem that I'm sure people can relate to... my reading list keeps growing and growing and growing but the passing of time stays constant. Wish I had some time related powers.

I also read The Last Hour of Gann love that book and the thread discussing it.

Jordan (jordan_lusink) I loved Cinder when I read it--I'm admittedly a sucker for fractured fairy tales--and just got the second one in this series, Scarlet, so I'm looking forward to that as well. Great alt alt pick for the theme this month! I'll probably re-read it for the alt alt and to prepare myself for Scarlet.

Melissa (ahes) | 186 comments I'll try to read Cinder after the main and alt of this month. It looks pretty fun, so I'll be happy to read and discuss it.

Lisa (lisapond) | 95 comments Oh, this is fun. I'm planning on reading the main and the alt already but I actually read Cinder fairly recently, and I've read Scarlet. I own Cress, which is the third book, but haven't gotten to reading it yet. I probably won't reread it (too many things to read) but I'll participate as much as I can with what I remember, though I have a terrible memory, I will be honest!

I also really love fractured fairytales and thought this was a fun.

Lindsay (the_great_linzini) | 56 comments I'm 28% in - So far, I really like it. My only complaint is that I wish the author would spend a little more time describing the androids. - I had no idea that Iko had treads until Cinder had to move debris out of her way at the junkyard. I had to "reboot" my imagination, and that annoyed me a little. I felt like I'd known that character too long to just now be learning something that important about her physical appearance/method of locomotion.

Elizabeth (edowney) I really enjoyed Cinder. I thought it was a clever retelling of the Cinderella story. I've read Scarlet and Cress too and can't wait for the last to come out. Cinder was a strong character and the plot, dialogue and world-building had this book holding its own against adult fiction. I'm just now getting to the alt pick from last month - Death's Daughter - and the voice of that main character is driving me crazy and that's an "adult" novel. She sounds like she's younger than Cinder.

Lindsay (the_great_linzini) | 56 comments @Amber - I started to answer your questions but felt like I was writing a book report.

So, I'll just say that I really enjoyed it and now I've started reading Scarlet.

I still wish the author had described the androids in more detail. That's really the only thing that bugged me though. - I gave it 4 stars.

Lisa (lisapond) | 95 comments Elizabeth, I agree that she's a more mature storyteller than Callie in Death's Daughter. I got the impression that Callie was supposed to sound that way but the fact that she grew very little over the course of the story made her a grating narrator.

But Cinder is a nice contrast to that! I like the journey she takes as she comes to terms with the new information she learns throughout the novel because basically it changes her entire view of the world. Won't say more than that for spoilers!

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Amber (puresurplus) | 53 comments Lindsay wrote: "@Amber - I started to answer your questions but felt like I was writing a book report.

So, I'll just say that I really enjoyed it and now I've started reading Scarlet.

I still wish the author h..."

Haha, no worries. They are only suggested questions and certainly not required!

message 11: by Daphne (new)

Daphne Chennault (daphnech) | 68 comments I haven't seen Cinder yet, but I have enjoyed the Cinderella version in the Fables graphic novel series. "Cindy" is an espionage agent par excellence, with three hundred years of martial arts training. Her cover is--what else?--a New York shoe emporium!

Susan | 30 comments I have already read the original Alt and can't seem to find the main on Kindle or at any of my libraries, so I have just ordered Cinder from my library so can join in here. :)

Jordan (jordan_lusink) Daphne wrote: "I haven't seen Cinder yet, but I have enjoyed the Cinderella version in the Fables graphic novel series. "Cindy" is an espionage agent par excellence, with three hundred years of martial arts train..."

I LOVE the Fables graphic novels! Once again, sucker for fractured fairy tales. Also, I got into them late enough that the first ten volumes or so were already out and in the library. You have good taste, Daphne!

message 14: by Daphne (new)

Daphne Chennault (daphnech) | 68 comments Thanks, Jordan! I got into the Fables series near the beginning. My favorite character is Rose Red, Snow White's sister. She has really matured, and the new installment has her as the Paladin of Hope. *My* hope is that she brings back Blue. Those two belong together!

message 15: by Vanessa (last edited Aug 04, 2014 09:23AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Vanessa (emberlin) **SPOILER WARNING**

I really liked the setting of Cinder. It's sort of a dystopian future Asian setting, which was refreshing and unique. I have already read Scarlet and Cress as well, and the series is outstanding and in my opinion keeps getting better. Even though the later books focus on a different main character, Cinder is the thread that holds them all together and her story features prominently throughout the series.

I enjoy the discussion about what it is to be human, what makes an android "less" in their society etc. I always wondered why even someone that had just as simple a modification as a cybernetic hand or foot would be considered a cyborg. At what point does it stop being an enhancement and you change your status from human to cyborg or even android? Is an android just an anthropomorphic robotic being, or can you actually replace enough of yourself to become an android? What about Iko? She clearly has very human emotions and responses, yet is a completely manufactured being.

I don't think Cinder seems any less human for all her modifications. It always seems supremely unfair of her (wicked) stepmother Adri to invalidate her as a human so much, mocking her for being unable to produce tears, as though there are never humans that have a condition with that exact symptom.

One more little detail I enjoyed was that they called her Cinder, when the detrimental event that destroyed most of her body and forced them to make her cyborg was a fire. I have a feeling this little cinder will rise from the ashes of that fateful event like a glorious phoenix, grease smudges and all. :)

Jordan (jordan_lusink) Vanessa wrote: "**SPOILER WARNING**

I really liked the setting of Cinder. It's sort of a dystopian future Asian setting, which was refreshing and unique. I have already read Scarlet and Cress as well, and the ser..."

This was one of the things that I most appreciated about this book as well. Although it's technically YA, Meyer doesn't pull punches in discussing the nature of androids/cyborgs. This is a big theme in the main this month, too. (And probably in the alt.) It's interesting to see how different authors approach the question.

message 17: by Daphne (new)

Daphne Chennault (daphnech) | 68 comments Speaking from a writer's POV, there is *always* a market for dystopian or post-apocalyptic stories. No one knows exactly why, but it's true. From my own perspective, I think it is sort of a dark streak in human nature. No matter how bad things get in our own lives, there is some sort of comfort in thinking that it could be much worse.

The ironic thing is that most forms of apocalypse have been done: nuclear war, plagues, earthquakes, air crashes, zombies, etc. I am currently putting together two separate apocalyptic stories, one with a new Dark Age, the other with a genetic plague.

The most difficult thing about a dystopian future is making sure that hope still exists. Without hope, no one will read it.

message 18: by Molly (last edited Aug 04, 2014 08:16PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Molly (mollyrichmer) I have absolutely nothing against YA, but somehow I came away from this book wishing that it had been written by someone else as a straight up adult cyberpunk novel. It has so much potential! Such a great premise, such interesting characters! The whole time, I was just wishing it would get a little grittier, a little darker, a little more engrossing. This review by goodreads user Tatiana sums up my feelings pretty well:

Also, I was very uncomfortable with the fact that Cinder was only 16 years old. I understand that YA books usually have teen protagonists, and that these protagonists fall in love and want to be together forever, blah blah blah. But Cinder and Kai are straight up ready to GET MARRIED after knowing each other for what, a couple weeks? In an age where, presumably, people's lives can be extended far past what is possible today, there is no way that people would be getting married that young. It wouldn't be societally acceptable. I found it very disconcerting.

Gunnhildur Rúnarsdóttir (grafarholt) | 173 comments For some reason I thought this was a stand alone, not the first in a series. I know "The Lunar Chronicles" should have given be a hint but no I just thought each book was retelling a certain fairy tale.

I liked the story. It was a quick read for me.

I'll probably read the rest of this series when I have the time. Really want to know how and if Cinder manages to overthrow Levane.

message 20: by Susan (last edited Aug 12, 2014 03:00AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Susan | 30 comments **SPOILER WARNING**

I really enjoyed this book. I found the suspense a little bit lacking because the moment they mentioned Princess Selene in the earlier chapters I knew it was going to be Cinders. But while there wasn't the big surprise of the 'reveal, I still really enjoyed this book. I'm going to see if my library has the rest of the series.

Alexa | 50 comments I wanted to like this book so bad because I am a huge fan of fairytales and science fiction, but I just could not get into it.

I called the ending like maybe two chapters in and it was so disappointing. The plot felt too paint-by-numbers to me. I was never surprised by anything.

Also, the fact that Cinder was treated so badly and was practically a social pariah when she only had a few tiny cyborg elements seemed crazy to me.

I guess if I want to read a book about a cyborg, I want the main character to be like half robot or more to make it interesting. It didn't feel alien enough for my taste.

Amanda (amandapearl) I absoultely adore Cinder. It's one of my favorite YAs. I love how it's a fairy tale re-telling that isn't afraid to deviate from the source material to tell it's own story. The balance is really great. I also love the Sailor Moon influences too! I am a total Cinder advocate, I love it!

message 23: by Melissa (last edited Aug 26, 2014 04:23AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Melissa (ahes) | 186 comments Molly wrote: "I have absolutely nothing against YA, but somehow I came away from this book wishing that it had been written by someone else as a straight up adult cyberpunk novel."

This is quite exactly how I feel. From my very limited knowledge of (contemporary) Young Adult novels it seems like there is a definite popularity of slightly dystopian fiction, which I think this one can fall under as well, at least to a certain extent. My issue with that is that I love similar adult books. When I read the younger variety, I always feel like I'm missing something. I always wish it to be more grittier and more dark, like Molly mentioned as well.

I also didn't really like the writing style. It's not bad, but it is not memorable at all. I didn't get annoyed by it, but I didn't get impressed either.

I had slight issues with the character of Kai. I don't know if anyone has played the game Long Live the Queen? It was mentioned on one of Felicia's Friday Videos. It's about this princess who just lost her mother and will be crowned the new queen on her fifteenth birthday. You need to get her to survive until then. To do this, you let her study two topics every day, such as Royal Demeanor: Composure, Elegance or Presence. But due to the limited time, you can't do everything. When I was reading the parts about Kai I had a similar feeling to when playing the game; I was constantly wishing I had let him/her spent a little more time on Court Manners and Intellectual matters.

There were some parts I enjoyed, like for example how Cinder wasn't allowed a new foot since she was 11 years old. That would explain her small foot in the original story.

My overall opinion is like Alexa said: "too paint-by-numbers." It felt a bit like a mash-up of popular YA elements. (That is at least how it felt like to me.)

It's predictable, but not the worst read. I've continued on reading all the published books in the series. I've rather enjoyed Scarlet, but I wasn't a fan of Cress at all. The short stories are worth a read as well. The prequel Glitches is a nice read and gives us some more information on Cinder's life in her adoptive family, The Queen's Army tells us more about Wolf, who appears in Scarlet. I think it's a bit of a must-read; it's an important part of the bigger story. Carswell's Guide to Being Lucky was a funny little prequel of Carswell, who appears in Scarlet. The Little Android is not really a part of the bigger story, though it is set in the same world and Cinder does appear briefly. It's a retelling of The Little Mermaid that deals a bit with the humanity of androids.

message 24: by Anna (last edited Aug 30, 2014 11:58AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Anna | 135 comments I really liked this series. While I agree with the comment that the first book is pretty predictable, I like how the story arc expands when you move into the second and third book. I loved how, even though it was done in a pretty simplistic way, the usual gender tropes got turned on their head. I love that it's a prince who is stuck waiting in the palace facing having to be married off for political reasons to the villain while the female character got to take the active role of working to save the day. I'm into it. For a YA I think it is a lovely little story and quite enjoyable.

Frakki Karu | 509 comments I'm 33% in, and really enjoying the story. It always surprises me how dark some YA stories can be. It reminds me of old Grimm farytails.

This was a great pick. Liking it better than the main so far.

Amanda (amandaquotidianbooks) | 21 comments I was really disappointed in Cinder.

I thought there were major holes in the world-building (Why are Cyborgs hated? They started out as normal people, right? So why is getting fixed with metal in order to be functional again such a degrading thing? So there is life on Luna. What about the other planets? Why can they manipulate bioelectrical signals? I thought that was out of place with the rest of the magic system.)

I also thought the character development was lacking. The chapters from Kai's point of view served simply to explain the political side of the plot. It did not give me insight into him as a character. I also didn't connect with Cinder even though I really wanted to! And I didn't understand Levana's motivations at all. How did she get to be so muahaha evil? She was presented as a character with no depth, just a evil baddie archetype that needs no explanation. It felt lazy.

I was also super disappointed (view spoiler)

I was rooting for this book. I was disappointed. I saw all of the ingredients were there, but Meyer didn't flesh them out well enough.

message 27: by Anna (new) - rated it 4 stars

Anna | 135 comments @Amanda clearly if it's not something you enjoyed you should put the series aside and not worry about it. However, I will say, even though Levana's motivation is still not fleshed out yet, there is a sense that we're moving that way as you read further on in the series. Also, the rest of the world develops a bit more too. I think treating the first book as a standalone would definitely leave one disappointed. I personally enjoyed the following books even more.

Frakki Karu | 509 comments I'm loving it. I just got to the fourth section and I'm near tears due to Cinder's losses. I'm sad that there can not be a truly happy ending now. This book is pretty harsh. Does anyone know they age range it's recommended for?

I put the prejudice against the cyborgs down to there brain differences. Cinders brain work like a commuter. So, even though she has human parts, her mind is digital. Though, we don't know if this is true of all cyborgs.

I love how the author walks the line between fairy tail and hardcore SciFi.

message 29: by Frakki (last edited Sep 02, 2014 03:45PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Frakki Karu | 509 comments OMG! It's a cliffhanger! I was really expecting a Cinderella ending! For some reason I thought the other books were related but not the same story.

I agree with comments that it was easy to predict most of what was coming. (With the exception of what happened to the younger sister.) Then again, I wasn't expecting a John Le Carre novel. What I was most surprise and excited about was how the author played with the Cinderella touch stones like the evil step mom and slipper.

What I LOVED about Cinder;

When fixing things she would always start with hitting it a couple times.

She built her own pumpkin/carriage to get to the ball.

She shows up at the ball looking like hell. (I did think there was going to be some event that would fix the dress and gloves. Glad to be wrong.)

She will be a Ruler in her own right and not marry into it. (Not that I'm a fan of monarchies.)

She had a job and was great at it.

Frakki Karu | 509 comments Just finished Scarlet. The author didn't work in the fairy tail as much, only the name Wolf and the color red. But, still, it was a lot of fun. Less predictable.

I wish they had books with such great girl characters in them when I was younger. It's fun reading these in my 40s. I can only imagine how great they would be if I was a much less jaded tween.

Frakki Karu | 509 comments This is not a trilogy!?! And I have to wait until 2015 for the next installment!!! YA can be so cruel.

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