My rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends (2014)
Length: 550 pgs
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #3
Format: Hardcover, purchased from Target
Goodreads Synopsis: In this third book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.
Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who’s only ever had 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 of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.
Cress is the most action-packed installment of the Lunar Chronicles so far. Now following the stories of three fairy-tale inspired heroines and their love interests, Marissa Meyer does an excellent job weaving together all three stories to form a cohesive, refreshing third person narrative that explores new Earthen regions, delves further into the mysterious Luna, tackles tragedy, and provides great character development for the whole cast.
Meyer has done a fantastic job in the series creating distinct identities for each fairy tale heroine, crafting their well-known literary back stories with her own interpretation of their personalities. Cress is an idealistic dreamer/genius computer hacker that’s suffered social isolation for close to a decade, yet she tries to see the good in people. Cress’ innocence and quirky personality balance out the sassy and outspoken Scarlet and the contemplative and hardworking Cinder. Cress also serves as a catalyst for the character development of Captain Thorne, and it was really fun to see him grow as a character.
Speaking of character development, I love how Cinder has accepted the use of her Lunar gift, and has become more confident in synthesizing her identities and responsibilities as Princess Selene and Cinder the mechanic. It’s refreshing to see Cinder hold her own against Levana’s minions and to see her battle with what she deems moral and amoral uses of her gift. There was a point at the end of the book where she uses her gift to make a dire threat to Kai and I found myself internally cheering because it’s about time that she take control. I was also cheering about the fact that we get to see a lot more (literally!) of Iko in this book, and I absolutely adore her as a character!
I was also really interested that Meyer addressed some rather serious issues in Cress. Human trafficking is introduced as an underlying problem on Earth as Lunar shells are trafficked as slaves and servants. The idea of a human slave trade in the world of the Lunar Chronicles is fascinating as it’s a very real and often ignored problem in our own society, so I appreciate Meyer acknowledging it in her series. Meyer also introduces mental illness toward the end of the book, as a side effect of Lunars’ neglecting to use their power, which adds a complex layer to the argument that Lunars-shouldn’t-use-their-powers-because-it’s-unfair-and-unnatural that is held by many humans in the series.
Wolf- I just love his character as he battles his human instincts over his animalistic ones. It’s so interesting to read and I love his relationship with Scarlet, and his commitment to her. It was also interesting to read Cress’ perspective of him as terrifying since she knows him in a very different context- the benefits of third person narration!
Iko- She provides much needed comic relief, and she proves to be one of the most loyal characters in the books despite the fact that she’s not even human. I hope good things happen to Iko in the end, because she deserves them.
Thorne- He used to annoy me, but now he reminds me of a much funnier, more self-aware version of Gilderoy Lockhart.
“See? Injustice. Here we are, risking our lives to rescue Kai and this whole planet, and Adri and Pearl get to go to the royal wedding. I’m disgusted. I hope they spill soy sauce on their fancy dresses.”
“Iko. My name is Iko. If you don’t stop calling me the ‘ship,’ I am going to make sure you never have hot water during your showers again, do you understand me?”
“Because the palace walls have been bleeding for years, and no one else sees it.” She shrugged, as if this were a perfectly normal thing to say. “No one believes me, but in some corridors, the blood has gotten so thick there’s nowhere safe to step. When I have to pass through those places, I leave a trail of bloody footprints for the rest of the day, and then I worry that the queen’s soldiers will follow the scent and eat me up while I’m sleeping. Some nights I don’t sleep very well.” Her voice dropped to a haunted whisper, her eyes taking on a brittle luminescence. “But if the blood was real, the servants would clean it up. Don’t you think?”
The more I let Cress settle in my mind, the more I love it. This book has everything: betrayal, kidnap, torture, tragedy, sabotage, relationships finally coming together, dynamic plot twists that will leave you in shock, and a haunting new character that I can’t wait to see more of in Winter. The last hundred or so pages are gratifyingly filled with explosive and important content and plot development so that it was impossible at that point to put it down. The revolution has truly started, and I’ll be waiting on pins and needles to read the conclusion. The Lunar Chronicles is one of the strongest YA series going into 2014, and Cress was a fulfilling successor to Scarlet.
Speaking of Scarlet:
I was just recently made aware that the Lunar Chronicles are available in audio format from Macmillan Audio via Soundcloud, and that the first chapter of Scarlet can be previewed here. You can also check out the clip below! If you’re a fan of the Lunar Chronicles, check it out! To read my review of Scarlet, click here.
*The link to the Scarlet audiobook was provided to me by Macmillan Audio for an honest review. No compensation was received for my inclusion of the content.