by Marissa Meyer
Original Publication Date: February 4, 2014
Length: 560 pages
Publisher: Fiewel & Friends
Obtained Via: Bought
Format Read In: Hardback
View at the Traffic light:
Rapunzel’s tower is a satellite. She can’t let down her hair—or her guard.
In this third book in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.
Their best hope lies with Cress, who has been trapped on a satellite since childhood with only her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker—unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.
When a daring rescue goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing stop her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only ones who can.
Note: There are spoilers for the first two books in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Scarlet, in this review.
I know I’ve said it with every installment in this series so far, but Cress is the best yet in The Lunar Chronicles. You would think that the more characters that are introduced in this story, the more wild and unruly the basic plot would become, but Marissa Meyer’s plot is so tight and perfectly pieced that it never feels overwhelming, despite the sheer amount of players and moves on the chessboard.
Cress begins by introducing us to the titular character, and I have to say that Cress is probably my favorite heroine so far. Cinder and Scarlet are similar in many ways–they have their own personalities, but their both fierce, determined characters. While I absolutely love that, Cress, with her awkwardness and intelligent hacking skills, is simply refreshing. She’s been isolated for so long that she can be so charmingly awkward and she’s not going to be at the front line of battle. She’s smart and resourceful, though, which is what won me over right away.
Early on in the book, the main characters get separated into different groups when a rescue attempt for Cress goes horribly wrong. Luckily for Thorne, Cress is a genius, so they survive, but they wind up alone in the Sahara desert. I never thought chapters of characters surviving in the desert could be as entertaining as that part of the story was. Cress and Thorne play off each other so well. He’s front and center in this book, which, since he’s my favorite character, had me pretty much jumping for joy. And for as much praise I’ve given Cress for her intelligence, I have to hand it to Thorne too. I love Thorne’s charming, amusing rogue ways, but I think sometimes his skills are taken for granted as well. After all, he’s a big reason half the characters in these books are still alive.
Cress has had a crush on Thorne since she started tracking Cinder, and this part just made me sigh for the adorableness. Cress has to come to learn Thorne as he really is, not as the hero she’s painted him to be. She has to learn to embrace him with his flaws along with that irresistible charm, and the same can be said for Thorne as he learns more about Cress. Their chapters were probably the strength of the Cress for at least the first half of the novel.
As for the rest of the gang? Well, basically Cinder is going around being awesome, taking care of everyone, making sure the world doesn’t fall apart, and hatching all the plans. Our favorite cyborg mechanic has grown so much since the first book! Kai is doing the best he can considering his impending marriage the the most evil Lunar Queen ever, though things are falling a part all over the place. Oh, Emperor Kai needs a hug bad. Scarlet has a really tough time. I will say that Scarlet isn’t in Cress a lot, but her chapters made me ache for her. It’s stunning how much development she gets in so few pages, though. And Wolf sort of falls apart and is a non-entity for awhile. The characters suffer quite a bit in this one–all of them, but in a penultimate series book, that’s exactly what I want.
The plot of Cress is fantastic. We really get to see more of the Lunars than ever before, and there’s new developments with the plague. The relationship between all the different factors is so tightly woven that it just continues to astound me the more I think about it. I really don’t know how Marissa Meyers manages to stuff so much stuff in the plot without it seeming overwhelming. I’m going to make a bold statement: That plotting? That’s J.K. Rowling level plot brilliance. There, said it.
As a last positive element, I feel the need to point out I think that these books get seriously underrated in terms of humor. Yes, the plots are serious and the stakes are dire, but there are some profoundly funny scenes in Cress, mostly due to Thorne and everyone’s favorite android, Iko. It perfectly combines high stakes with lines that make me actually laugh out loud.
In short, Cress had it all: a great cast of characters, big events that pushed the characters forward(and also made them suffer), witty dialogue, and great pacing. By far the strength of this series is how meticulously flawless and tightly woven the plot is, and after Cress, I have a profound desire to read Winter as soon as possible.
Considering the fact I favorably compared Marissa Meyer’s plotting to J.K. Rowling’s, I think you can guess where my final rating for this one is going. Cress really did have it all. The characters, the dialogue, the plot–perfection. 5/5 cupcakes.