I now join the ranks of those frustrated readers who can't get over the misused potential in Cinder. Because there is potential, it's just lost beneath the confused plot, utter lack of subtlety, and characters with unrealistic emotions.
Here come the spoilers. Firstly - not in chronological sense, but rather in terms of how much it annoyed me - Peony's death. Everything about Peony's death. Cinder begs her to take the antidote - why does she not just force it down her throat? She has heaps of time. And then the death happens so suddenly, and is all over so quickly and then... Cinder doesn't react, really. Three days later and all she can think about is Kai - it just doesn't fit.
Then there's the glaringly obvious, and yes this is a "big" spoiler but to be honest it's pretty hard to get past the first few chapters without realising that duh, Cinder is the lost Lunar princess. Only she doesn't realise this, of course. Because that would spoil the surprise.
Oh, and on that note, everything with the Lunars is just painful to read. This "evil" race of non-human-once-were-human people who for some reason can manipulate everything but Kai isn't manipulated because... he digs his fingernails into his leg? So... Why can't everyone do this? That would render the threat null and void. Also, even after finding out that actually the vast majority of the population is under the control of (i.e, brainwashed by) Queen Lavana, Cinder still insists on thinking of all Lunars as being "evil". She should be able to relate to the whole "being forced to do things you don't want to do by someone in power"
Also - why are cyborgs such second class citizens exactly? I guess there doesn't need to be an explaination but surely those people with injuries so extreme as to need cybernetics, and can actually afford them, wouldn't be treated as animals... And just "thrown away" in a drafting system, if only for the fact that these limbs and things aren't cheap. I can't quite articulate clearly my point around the whole cyborg treatment but that kinda gets it across. It just doesn't make sense.
New Beijing didn't feel all that realistic to me either. There was little to no culture other than the honorifics, and even with the whole "commonwealth" merging of culture it just seemed a waste really, to have this amazing setting and not utilise it at all. Also - a crowded futuristic city with... 2 million people? There are 1.5 million in Auckland and this is a tiny city. (though I think there are only maybe .5 million in the actual Central part). More to the point, there are over 20 million people in Beijing now. 2 million just doesn't feel like a lot in that respect. Tiny detail but it grates.
(I know, I know, in a lot of YA fiction now, a lot of belief has to be suspended but this all goes just a little too far for my liking.)
On top of that, the audiobook drove me mad. It started ok but by the end (and after the awful attempts at accents that simply should not have happened) I couldn't stand to listen for longer than two minutes at a time. I think I would have enjoyed reading the book a little more. I may still pick up the sequel in the hope that all of the promise that Cinder showed at the start maybe comes through but I won't be holding out for it.