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.
ALL OF THEM. ALL 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?