Saturday 15 February 2014

#CBR6 Book 13: "Cress" by Marissa Meyer

Page count. 550 pages
Rating: 4.5 stars

This is the third book in a series, and I would strongly recommend you don't start with this one. This review will contain minor spoilers for Cinder, the first book in the series and Scarlet, the second book, so if you've not read them, go read them first. This review will be here when you're done.

Crescent Moon, or Cress, as she'd prefer to be called, has spent the last seven years all alone on a satellite orbiting Earth, monitoring communications for the Lunar government and doing all sorts of tricksy things to make sure Lunar ships can travel undetected to the planet below. About once a month, her boss, Queen Levana's head thaumaturge (think scary psychic) Sybil comes with more supplies, and to check on whatever progress Cress has made. At the moment, Sybil wants her to locate the missing Lunar fugitive Linh Cinder and her accomplices, not realising that Cress and her hacking skills are in fact what's keeping the authorities from locating the spaceship they are on.

While once a loyal Lunar citizen, happy that despite being a shell (a Lunar who doesn't possess the ability to manipulate minds with glamour) she has been kept alive (because the law states they should be killed at birth), Cress has long been trying to subvert Queen Levana every chance she gets. She devours all she can find of Earthen culture and media, and sent the warning to Cinder that Levana was planning to kill Emperor Kai once they were married. Now she's hoping that Cinder will be able to rescue her from her prison on the satellite. She's researched everything she can find on the cyborg fugitive and her accomplices, even a lot that's not available through official channels. With her hacking skills, Cress can get any kind of written record, if she just works for long enough. She's especially taken with the handsome Captain Carswell Thorne, who claims to be a rogue and a scoundrel, yet Cress is convinced he's a good man, really.

So Cress is rescued, Cinder defeats the evil queen and it's all good, right? Not so much. This is the third and penultimate book in Meyer's Lunar Chronicles and it's clearly where some spanners have to be thrown in the works for our brave heroes and heroines. Cress and Thorne crash to Earth in the satellite, having to find their way to civilisation from the crash site in the Sahara desert, with Thorne blinded and Cress unaccustomed to anything outside her orbiting prison. Scarlet is taken prisoner and taken to Luna, tortured and interrogated by Levana's people, determined to find Cinder at any cost. Cinder, a frantic wolf and a rogue Lunar royal guard travel to darkest Africa to find Doctor Erland, who may be the only one who can help Cinder prepare to face the Queen, and stop her impending marriage to Emperor Kai.

This is the longest book in the series so far, and my favourite of the three. The main heroine this time around is poor, lonely and day-dreaming Cress, so obviously modelled on Rapunzel and so desperately infatuated with a man she's never met. To his credit, Thorne realises very quickly (even when blind) that Cress is sheltered and impressionable and does nothing to take advantage of her affection for him, even doing his very best to set the story straight about what she believes were noble and courageous deeds, but in reality were fairly selfish and sometimes foolhardy acts. Of course, through his continued interactions with Cress, getting her through the desert safely, risking his own comfort and safety for her, he may indeed end up the heroic ideal Cress has built up in her mind.

Cinder is getting desperate, and she's running out of time. She has decided that the best way to stop Levana is to interrupt the wedding ceremony and expose to the world what an evil fraud the Lunar Queen actually is. She travels to find Dr Erland in Africa, hoping that he will give her the tools she needs to set her plan in motion. Can she trust Jacin Clay, the royal guard who claims he'll help her take down Levana, if only the princess is kept safe?

Through Scarlet, we see more of the cruel and capricious nature of a lot of the Lunars, and she is not treated well in her captivity. She makes a possible friend in Clay's strange and possibly mad Princess Winter, though, who seems none too fond of her stepmother, and refuses to manipulate the minds of those around her with glamour.

I knew I was setting myself up for a long and frustrating wait for the fourth and final book in the series when I chose to read Cress as soon as it came out. These books are just getting better and better, with multiple protagonists, story lines and plots, all moving towards what will no doubt be a spectacular conclusion in Winter's book, out sometime in 2015. I can't wait to see how it all ends. Hopefully, like in the fairy stories the series is based on, they will all live happily ever after.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.


  1. Can't wait to read this! Glad to hear it's good. I have it but I'm saving it for next month for the fairy tale motif.

    1. I have at least three others I can read in March for the fairy tale motif. I'm generally a sucker for a good fairy tale retelling. Strangely, while I'm not normally a huge fan of sci-fi, I think Meyer's books are a great way of twisting the traditional stories.