Cress by Marissa Meyer.
Lunar Chronicles #3.
Published: February 4, 2014.
Published by: Feiwel & Friends.
Source: Received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. Thank you, Macmillan!
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.
Marissa Meyer has already proven to me that she is a story master. Cress simply serves as wildly fun, adorable, enjoyable bonus proof to that point. It is adventurous and exciting, pulling an excellent new character into the already established storyline with ease.
Cress herself I found incredibly easy to love. She is very smart and has taught herself many useful skills while trapped in her satellite, include master hacking. She is so starved for true companionship, though, that she uses her skills to turn her satellite's operating system into a friend and to constantly follow updates about Cinder's situation - and about Captain Thorne. Cress has a rather unhealthy obsession with Thorne before ever meeting him in person. While this could have been incredibly awkward and desperate, which would have turned me off Cress' character, instead I thought that enough of her background and personality was so effectively set out that I felt sympathy for her and just found her rather endearing. That draw to her character and watching the growth she goes through over the course of the story helped keep me from even really noticing the substantial length of the book. I was just happy to have more pages to turn and scenes to experience.
Once again Meyer has not only created a wonderful, lovable new character in Cress, but has also managed to weave her narrative into the overarching story that began with Cinder and added Scarlet, Wolf, and Thorne along the way. It was, of course, so enjoyable to see them continue on their journey and have a bigger adventure than I actually expected this time around. I thought a lot would be focused just on them getting Cress out of her satellite, but there was much more action than I thought there would be. I was definitely pleasantly surprised by this. I'm specifically being vague here because there is a lot of interesting development and I don't want to give any of it away. Meyer also continues Prince Kai's narrative, including some sections from his perspective. I loved his sections primarily because I think he's an excellent character struggling to reconcile the limits of personal sacrifice with the needs of his kingdom. I also enjoyed that seeing things from his perspective really helped me stay updated on the political side of it all, because he is dealing with the brunt of that (and with Queen Levana most directly out of everyone). The constant tension and uncertainty of the Lunar situation is something that has only improved over the course of the series and which keeps me completely intrigued.
I also very much enjoyed getting to explore another geographic area of Meyer's futuristic world in Cress. The areas explored so far have been rather advanced in technology but in different ways, so when the deserts of Africa became a primary setting I was immediately curious to see Meyer's take on it. The way the locals in Africa had taken on some elements of the techy world but still maintained a very rural feel was quite fascinating. There is a certain charm to this new setting, but it also plays into the conflicts very well. I am left once again applauding Meyer's immersive world building.
All in all, Cress is a fun story that completely lives up to its predecessors and incorporates the character of Cress in an adorable but important way. The wait for the final installment, Winter, will be a long one, but after all the plot weaving, political intrigue, and character investment so far, I can rest assured that in Meyer's hands it will be a stunning conclusion.