I've just finished Cinder, and it was great!
The author brings in elements of the classic tale entitled Cinderella but puts a whole new twist on the story by making it a futuristic sci-fi tale.
The book starts with Cinder, a girl just working at a garage in New Beijing on earth. New Beijing is what was once our Beijing today. Cinder mends and fixes things for a living to pay for her keep. She was adopted by a family. Adri, her "stepmother" doesn't want her though. It was her father figure that bought her into their lives when he found her somewhere that's not explained until later in the book. Her father figure died before the events of the book start taking place, just like Cinderella's real father dies in the tale before the book begins.
In the first chapter we meet Prince Kai. He's the son of the Emporer. Prince Kai wants Cinder to fix his android (a robot) because he needs some important information from it. It's revealed later in the book why he needs the information.
There's a ball that Cinder's family is invited to. We see her "sisters" trying on their dresses, like in the original Cinderella. When her youngest sister is bored of trying on dresses she asks Cinder if she can go with her to the junkyard as Cinder has been sent there to get scraps to fix something of her stepmother's. While at the junkyard they find a car. Cinder has the thought to take this and runaway.
There is an outbreak of a disease that cannot be contained. When Cinder's "sister" (the one that she gets on with) is infected with the disease at the junkyard supposedly Cinder automatically is blamed. The Emporer is also infected with the disease before the story begins. They both die as a consequence.
From there Cinder is taken to be tested and makes a friend in Dr Erland. It's found that she apparently didn't give anyone the disease.
While this is happening with Cinder, Prince Kai is in negotiations with Queen Levana (the villain of the series) to try and find a cure for the disease attacking his people. She lives on the moon and is a Lunar. Lunar's are seen as evil because Levana is that way.
At the ball, the main spoiler happens. Discoveries are made about Cinder and about this disease that is attacking the population of the earth.
I enjoyed the second half of Cinder more because the plot moved at a faster pace.
There were a few slow parts for me. The scientific stuff as well as the political stuff I didn't love but overall this was a really good retelling of the classic Cinderella with a sci-fi theme. I loved the twists and turns as well as the romance that develops between Cinder and Prince Kai. I have a feeling it's going to be very slow burn. All these reasons are why I'm giving Cinder a 4.5 star rating. The same characters continue in all the books I think. They all just introduce new characters along the way.
I really look forward to starting Scarlett (book 2) soon and seeing where that goes...