Cinder by Marissa Meyer is a futuristic twist on the story of Cinderella. In this story, Cinder is a cyborg, Lunar. In the future, Earth is racially inclusive, yet, there is an outsider subcategory of humans that have cybernetic modifications —cyborgs. These (cyborgs) are shunned by society and viewed as impure human beings. Perhaps the only thing more disliked than cyborgs are Lunars. Lunars are humans that have genetically adapted to life on the moon. They can control bioelectrical fields and use those fields to influence others. It is sort of a telepathic mind enslavement. As a result, humans distrust them. Not to mention that the Queen of all Lunars, Levana, is a vile woman that constantly forces her will upon her people and threatens to bring war to Earth.
The plague also plays a major role in this story. Even the plague, the most purely destructive force on Earth, allows Lunar Royalty to survive but claims the lives of everyone else. In a way it is a weapon of the elite class sent to wipe the Earth of all that would oppose the hierarchy.
Cinder also deals with the topic of slavery. Cinder, herself, is an indentured servant to her adoptive family. Just as in the fairy tale, Cinder is raised by an abusive mother-in-law. The difference from the original story is that she has a wicked step-sister and one step-sister that is kind and overlooks that Cinder is a cyborg. It seems that the cyborg is just one step above the disposability of an android.
There are several themes that students could explore with this book. The first topic would be inclusion. Students could explore the concept of total inclusion. They could bring up discussion topics from the book. Even though the world seems united, there is still a great deal of inequality. There are homeless people. People are discriminated against for having mechanically systems that help them to survive —cyborgs. Students could also explore the message of empowerment of self, being comfortable in your own skin that is present throughout the novel. Another topic student could explore is the use and creation of multiple genres to drive the story.