I really enjoyed using Meteor. I'm looking forward to the author's book, and would recommend to anyone who wants to very quickly jump in and start playing around to check out this book:
Strack's book doesn't get deep at all, but it certainly gets you pretty familiar with what Meteor does on the surface as you build apps with it.
Derby is certainly much friendlier to the Node ecosystem, but I don't see a problem with Meteor's approach. If the goal is to make an app as customizable and modular as possible, then Meteor isn't the tool for the job. If the goal is to get an app with reactive data capability, user registration/login functionality up and running as fast as possible, then Meteor is certainly a great option.