I had a really hard time deciding whether or not to give this book five stars--I enjoyed reading it that much! But in the end, there were a few details that made me choose four stars over five.
Overall, this book (and the concept) are fantastic. I love revised fairy tales, and this is by far the most creative and original one I have read. The world is complex on so many levels: not only are we in a futuristic world, but we're also in a post-apocalyptic world, and then we're also in a world with aliens and androids and cyborgs. To top it all off, we're in Asia! Although this may be a bit of culture shock for some readers at the beginning, I adore this combination, and it's so well developed and believable.
Meyer also did a good job of incorporating the fairy tale without making it obvious. I've never been a fan of the Cinderella story, but I was rooting for Kai and Cinder from the very beginning. And Meyer made so many smart choices in the incorporation of the fairy tale--creating a likable stepsister, having Cinder become a mechanic, and placing more focus on the political situation rather than the romance. (I can't stop gushing about this. It's just genius to me.)
Really, only little things bothered me, and they're not substantial or really significant--definitely not deterrents to reading the book! The beginning was definitely slow; I had trouble getting past the first hundred pages, even though I realize that the background was necessary to understanding the characters and story. Also some plot twists were really predictable (I knew that Cinder would be the lost princess from the very beginning. Maybe it's characteristic of the genre, maybe I'm just really good at guessing these things.) However, I definitely DID NOT foresee that Cinder would be Lunar. That was a pure shock, and it gave a lot more depth to her character. And thank you, Marissa Meyer, for not giving this book a fully happy ending. While I'll admit I was upset that Cinder and Kai didn't come together at the end, this definitely leaves me hooked to the series.
I'm also pleasantly surprised that the next book in the series doesn't feature Cinder (at least, not as a main character). To me, that's another smart choice by Meyer. And it means that we get more futuristic fairy tales! I've got to get my hands on Scarlet.