I've been hearing some wonderful things about The Lunar Chronicles for a while now so I was really looking forward to reading this first book in the series. To be honest I'm afraid that I can't really recommend Cinder as wholeheartedly as many other book bloggers out there have because there were certain things about this book that just didn't work for me, like the setting. New Beijing wasn't anywhere near as atmospheric as I would have liked. I never really got a feel for the city and apart from a few little things like a Buddha statue being mentioned there was no real indication that the story was taking place somewhere in Asia. It could have been taking place pretty much anywhere so the setting was very underdeveloped in this respect. This book is also very predictable at times - Cinder's true identity is obvious! - and I wasn't particularly sold on the romance between Cinder and Kai. The two of them do get a decent amount of time together but I just didn't feel any chemistry between them.
Having said all that Cinder is a clever and inventive take on the classic Cinderella story and although Marissa Meyer's prose is by no means spectacular it's definitely solid and readable. The thing that I enjoyed the most about this book was all of the political intrigue and brewing tension between the Lunar and the Earthens although I did like Cinder. She's practical, resourceful, sarcastic and brave and is very easy to sympathise with. There are some compelling secondary characters in this book as well. Queen Levana is genuinely sinister and there's far more to Dr. Erland than meets the eye but my favourite amongst the secondary characters was Iko. Her over-the-top personality and crush on Kai was pretty amusing and she actually reminded me a little bit of the grandmother from Disney's Mulan! :)
Although I found Cinder flawed I still thought that it was an engaging and interesting read overall and I am curious about its sequels. I'll probably get round to those books later on in the year.