I initially read Cinder because it was on a list of novels with characters of color. And the idea sounded fascinating: Cinderella as a part-cyborg from a futuristic Beijing? Yes, yes, and yes.
Unfortunately, the novel fell short of my expectations.
A) Its not that the Cinderella aspect isn't there (we've got an evil step-sister and -mother, the prince throws a ball for all the women, and Cinder finds a pumpkin colored car), it's just that the Cinderella aspect doesn't fit. The story would be just as good (and possibly, better) if it didn't try so hard to shoehorn Cinderella into the story
B) No effort was made to explain the cyborg technology, or any of the technology. I don't expect a fist-thick dissertation on the history of cyborg mechanics and engineering, but since Cinder is "the best mechanic in New Beijing" and a cyborg, I would've expected her to talk or even think about cyborg mechanics a couple times. And, I'm supposed to belive that over the course of a couple of weeks, she rebuilt a car using obsolete technology, but the only mention of the rebuild was "the car needs a new exhaust system." Maybe there really was a fairy godmother, because the car was broken, then poof! it was fixed.
C) Cinder's not Asian, which kinda sucks, but doesn't really surprise me. Here's why: Cinder reads like the sort of novel someone determined to be "colorblind" would write. There's almost no descriptions of what characters look like, and when they are described it's with vague descriptions of hair and eyes. The story takes place in New Beijing, but no one actually speaks Chinese (other than Kai's use of the honorific mei). There's one reference to eating dumplings, but no other mention of food. No mention of architecture, history, culture, music, anything that would have supported the idea that this novel was taking place specifically in New Beijing
rather than anywhere else in the world. I wanted to read a novel that took place in futuristic Beijing. That idea sounds awesome, but that's not what I got.
Despite all that, I enjoyed Cinder. The main character is easy to connect to, the romance between Kai and Cinder was sweet but thankfuly not the central point of the story. There were enough twists and turns to keep me attentive and most of the characters were developed enough that I didn't find myself asking why they exist. And while I doubt that the major plot twist was a surprise to anyone, it didn't detract from the story in any major way.
Bear in mind, this novel ends on a major cliffhanger.