Review: Cress

13206828Rapunzel’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.

How do I love thee, Cress? Let me count the ways.


Cress is a masterpiece. I adored Cinder and liked Scarlet, but Cress is a masterpiece. Want proof? I finished it on a Wednesday and didn’t touch another book until Sunday. Sure, I was busy, but I am the queen of procrastination and will always sneak off to read a book if it’s good enough. The real reason I didn’t pick up another book was that Cress just blew me away and I didn’t want to try another book that wouldn’t be equally amazing – a book that I would normally label “good” but would now disappoint me by not living up to Cress‘s reputation.

But eventually, I did begin reading again and since then I’ve read about five books, most of which need to be reviewed. I know, I’m behind on my reviews. I read books faster than I can discuss them. So to catch up, here’s the review of Cress.

Warning: Spoilers ahead!

Just as Cress is awesome, so is Cress. The character. I love her combination of intellect (from all that screentime) and naivety (from all that time spent alone). I love her role as the story’s version of Rapunzel. I love just imagining what her life before the rescue must have been like – solitary confinement in satellite orbiting the Earth? How cool (and terrible) is that?

The Lunar Chronicles have some of the best-written characters ever, in my opinion, but especially when it comes to female characters. Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress are very different with their one similarity being their complexity.

Consider Cinder, for example (because she was more like a secondary character in Scarlet but returns in full glory for this third book). She has a crush on Kai, but doesn’t spend all her time thinking about him. She enjoys looking pretty, but also despairs if her cyborg body will ever let her look that way. She can be gentle, but she can also shoot darts from her robotic hand.

And she’s not trying to prove a point to anyone. She doesn’t really have the “not like other girls” mentality. She’s just being herself. I love that. This is how to write a character, people.

Thorne! Can’t forget Thorne! In Scarlet he was selfish, shallow, and vain. I guess I liked him a little bit, but not much. Well, that changed with Cress. He insists he’s not a hero and despite his good intentions he certainly does make loads of mistakes – but he’s totally a hero. He went from being OK to being marvelous.

Scarlet and Wolf had far fewer scenes in this book than in the previous one and I didn’t mind at all. I don’t dislike them, but I do think there’s something missing from their relationship, something that the other couples (Cinder/Kai and Cress/Thorne) have. I don’t think they have as much chemistry.

Speaking of Cinder/Kai, they finally saw each other again! It was adorable. Even if it did come about through kidnapping the prince from his own wedding. Sometimes these things just have to be done, you know. I look forward to seeing how Kai reacts to the others onboard the spaceship (and how they react to him) in the sequel.

I love the relationships in Cress. (I’ve loved them since the beginning of the series, but now the characters have had more time to grow closer.) I don’t mean just the romantic ones, either. In general, I just enjoy reading about the characters interacting with one another, whether as friends or as something else.

The friendship between Cinder, Iko, and Thorne is hilarious.

Meanwhile, Dr. Erland and Cress are very sweet together and made me cry.

And I am one hundred percent sure that Sybil Mira is in love with Queen Levana. I don’t think the feeling is mutual – I don’t think Levana loves anything, except possibly herself – but Sybil totally loves her. Look, I even found a quote about Sybil’s role in the Lunar court to prove my point: “[She was] a doting lapdog and gleeful servant who delighted in seeing to Levana’s cruelest request.”

I don’t know about you, but that sounds like “evil, twisted lady is in love with another evil, twisted lady” to me.

(This maybe-canon relationship makes me like Cress even more because the entire series is really diverse – characters of varying races, non-stereotypical characters of all gender, a character who is a freaking cyborg. Except before, there weren’t even any possibly-queer characters!)

(Plus, if you substitute “Voldemort” for “Levana” that basically describes Bellatrix’s services for Voldemort and we all know that Bella adores Mr. Noseless.)

(Also, I don’t know of any other queer villains.)

(Googling this reveals that Moriarty, Irene Adler, and Loki are all queer villains.)

(I’m sorry – I went way off-topic there. Back to the review now!)

Before I wrap up this review, I would like to say one final thing about Cress: I am so proud of Marissa Meyer for killing off two characters. I cried when Dr. Erland died because I’ve adored him even when I still wasn’t sure if he was good or evil. And I slammed Cress shut in bookish rage when Sybil Mira died because A) no more possible Sybil/Levana subtext and B) she’s one of the few villains we know much about.

(You see, Levana is just kind of… evil. Still. The weak point of Cinder and Scarlet is the weak point of Cress as well – many of the villains don’t seem to have a motivation for their maldoings. They’re just, well, villainous. And that’s it. But Cress spent a number of pages following Sybil. Now that’s gone and it’s back to not-knowing-anything-about-villains.)

In spite of all that, I am glad Meyer killed those two. Why? Because many authors don’t want to kill their characters. Barring the Rowlings, Collinses, and Martins of the world, many authors don’t seem to know how to keep their story moving after subtracting a character. I can understand that – I get attached to my characters, and am sometimes at a loss as to how character A will survive without character B alive and there to help them. But actions have consequences, and sometimes those consequences aren’t good for characters, and authors should stop avoiding that.

Cress was perfect in nearly every way. I’m so glad I gave this series a try, because it is outstanding. Not only is Cress one of the best YA books I’ve ever read, it is also one of the best books I’ve read, period. I wish it were better known. I hope it wins awards. I want a film adaptation. It is just that good – and I don’t want to wait a whole year for Winter!

Have you read Cress? How excited are you for Winter?

Rating: 4.5/5

About nevillegirl

Elizabeth. University of Iowa class of 2019. Triple majoring in English & Creative Writing, Journalism, and Gender, Women's, & Sexuality Studies. Twenty-one-year-old daydreamer, introvert, voracious reader, aspiring writer, and lesbian. Passionate about feminism, mental health, comic books, and cats.
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10 Responses to Review: Cress

  1. Pingback: Review of the book Cress | kyleecutecollage

  2. Erin says:

    *Fangirl mode activated*

    I am so happy I read this series too. I am absolutely in love with all the characters. AND THE ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIPS. Oh, my heart! I do like Scarlet and Wolf, but I agree that there’s something missing from their relationship that doesn’t make me love them as much as Cress/Thorne and Cinder/Kai (CINDER AND KAI MAKE MY HEART ACHE. I basically danced around the room when they kissed). I just don’t know what it is though. Hm.

    I wasn’t a real big fan of Dr. Erland (he was a bit annoying at times), but it was so heart-breaking when he died. And he had just told Cress who he really was! *sobbing* Also, the way Meyer killed off Sybil was beautifully tragic (Hehe, Wicked quote). I hated it yet loved it at the same time.

    • nevillegirl says:


      I did think it was irritating when Dr. Erland wouldn’t just tell Cress who he was. He took his own sweet time…

      It was beautifully tragic. 🙂 It didn’t really make any sense for her to go out any other way, honestly.

      Speaking of Wicked, I plan to read it soon. 🙂

      • Erin says:

        EEEEE ME TOO.

        I know! I was getting so frustrated with him, and then he went and died. Figures.


        Oh, I haven’t read the book, but I’ve seen the musical! It’s amazing.

    • nevillegirl says:

      It’s good to know that the musical is amazing!

  3. Miss Alexandrina says:

    I’m surprised this series isn’t so well known in England as it seems to be elsewhere (I only know of it through following non-UK blogs). I wasn’t particularly interested in Cinder when it came out, but I guess I’ll have to grab the book now. Tehe. The plot sounds fascinating.

    As for killing characters, I think one needs to build up to doing so. I don’t think characters – bad or good – dying would suit my main trilogy; it’s not something that’s occurred to me. I have a couple of characters who vanish, which I guess is some equivalent, but I’ve never had anyone explicitly die. You?

    • nevillegirl says:

      Indeed! Then we can fangirl about it. ^-^

      *nods* It depends what type of story one is writing – in the case of the Lunar Chronicles, it’s partially about plague and war and stuff so it makes sense that there are going to be deaths. Main characters are going to catch the plague or die in battle or whatever.

      I’ve had a number of characters die, but I usually don’t spend very long on it. Writing bloody, violent deaths makes me feel weird. It just gets too gross.

  4. Cait says:

    I AM SO FREAKING EXCITED ABOUT WINTER IT’S NOT EVEN POSSIBLE TO FLAIL ENOUGH. OMG this book was just the best. (Though Scarlet is my secret top favourite.) Heh, but you’ve sure been having a Marissa Meyer binge read, eh?! I soooo don’t blame you. Mime is doing that right now. Did you know Marissa Meyer is writing an Alice in Wonderland rewrite next??! I’m sooo freakishly excited for that too. I need to find out exactly when it comes out.

  5. Pingback: A Sky Full Of Stars – Top Ten Books I Read In 2014 | Musings From Neville's Navel

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