I was so taken with this book that I finished it in half a day.Now, I will admit that the book has some problems. The writing in the beginning is very stilted, though it smooths out after a few chapters. The world-building is very simplistic, and when it goes to international levels downright confusing. A few of the 'political banter' scenes feel like they were too casual, especially since there were cameras watching. I figured out the Last Chapter Reveal when they dropped the very first hint. But as I write this, in the warm post-last-page glow, those are the only things I can remember having issue with.Cinder (the character) is a breath of fresh air in a market filled with horrible female role models. She is an honest-to-god strong female character, and if I could meet Marissa Meyer I would would give her a giant geekgirl hug for writing her. Cinder has a strong personality, she has fully realized hopes, dreams, and emotions, and most importantly she has agency. She does not pass quietly through this novel. Cinder is this novel. She drives every part of it. She takes control of her life and her story and doesn't let anyone tell her what to do. (Unless they have tranq darts, but that's an exception.) So many novels seem to forget that their main character has to tell the story, be the story, and not simply exist while the story happens around them. This novel never does that, and if the whole rest of the book were crap, I would still love it for that one fact.On the up side, the rest of the novel is not crap. Prince Kai is worthy male lead for our heroine, and he's got so much more going for him than just a pretty smile. (For one thing, he's actually nice.) The romance between Kai and Cinder is understated, awkward, and thoroughly adorable. Most importantly, it doesn't result in True Love after one week. I cannot express how much I am looking forward to a relationship that develops over the course of four planned books, not two chapters. The setting in this book, while not especially complex, does still have a character all its own, one which is present throughout the novel. The heavy issues (death, especially) are treated with dignity and real emotion. The plot felt more like an elaborate hook for the sequel than a self-contained story, but to its credit, I am thoroughly hooked. All in all, this is a book for teens that feels like it doesn't have to talk down to them. It treats its characters and its readers with respect and intelligence and am ecstatic to give it a permanent place on my bookshelf.