Cinder, by Marissa Meyer (Feiwel & Friends, January 2012) counts both for my multicultural sci fi/fantasy list, and my fairy tale retelling list, so even though it might well have reached review saturation point by now, here it is.
In a far future earth, there is peace between the small number of terrestrial goverements that share the globe. On the bad side, there's a horrible sickness sweeping the land, and the dictator of the Lunar people (the moon was colonized generations ago) has formulated evil schemes that will take her down to earth in a bid to extend her power in a terrible fashion.
That's the big picture.
The smaller picture is that of a teenaged girl, named Cinder, who lives with her de facto step mother (not nice) and two step-stepsisters (one nice, one not), and who is the wage earner of this family. She's a repairer of futuristic mechanical things, a crafter and tinkerer. She's also a cyborg, with a robotic leg and hand being the most obvious non-human components of her make up. Unfortunately for Cinder, cyborgs are despised out caste people in her society (the reasons why this is so never became clear to me, but regardless, there it is).
So when Cinder meets the Prince of the neo-China where she lives (he needs a special robot surreptitiously repaired), she doesn't want him to know what she truly is...and it turns out that she doesn't know who she truly is either (although it's easy for the reader to guess), and suddenly her life is in danger, the Lunar dictator has arrived and wants to marry the prince, and he (charmed by her, despite the fact that he never seems to see her at her best, and the fact that they never get to actually Talk much) wants her to go to a rather special ball with him.
This being the first book of the series, it ends with people still dying of the sickness, Cinder still in danger, and the Evil Plot still un-foiled. But I'll be happy to have more of the story to read! I especially loved the fact that Cinder is a girl who defies gender stereotypes--her personal fixation during the book is the repair of a very antique car....she'd never actually wear the sort of shoe shown on the cover. So in short, Cinder was Fun, in a really enjoyable reading sense--good for light vacationing, when one can keep turning the pages, absorbed in the story despite never quite believing all of it!
viz multicultural sci fi/fantasy--Cinder herself is not from this neo-China (she was a foundling in Europe), but the prince most certainly is, and that's the setting. This neo-China-ness is not made much of, but its an integral part of the world-making. It's also a pleasant change to read a sci-fi fairy tale retelling!
Note on age of reader--this is one of those books that can be read comfortably either at the upper end of middle grade (which is to say that there's no sex, and the relationship between Cinder and the prince isn't the be all and end all point) and on into YA.