I hope that book clubs and classes discussing my books will find the below questions and exercises both helpful and inspirational. Thank you so much to all the readers who helped me compile these!
Please note, these questions are filled with spoilers!
Discussion Questions for CINDER
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?
Writing Exercises for CINDER
1. Imagine Cinder’s life at home with her stepmother, Adri, and her two stepsisters. Write a scene from the point-of-view of Cinder or one of her stepsisters showing all of them interacting at home: over dinner, in the morning, getting ready for the ball.
2. Make up a character (not in the book) to interact with either Cinder or Prince Kai. Write a brief scene in which your character meets and tries to warn one of these characters that they are in danger from the Lunars.
3. You are a guest at the ball. Write about what happens between Cinder and Prince Kai from your point of view.
Visual Arts Exercises for CINDER
1. The cover art for CINDER depicts a female leg with cyborg parts and a red shoe. Draw or paint an alternate cover showing Cinder and any of the main characters: Iko, Prince Kai, Adri, Cinder’s stepsisters, or Queen Levana.
2. Draw or paint a portrait of Cinder with her cyborg parts, either in her mechanic’s garb, or at the ball.
3. The android Iko is important to Cinder. Draw or paint her. Or, draw/paint the android you’d like to have in your life!