When you came to my jail cell and dropped this whole princess thing on me . . . how was I supposed to react? All of a sudden I went from being nobody to being long-lost royalty, and you expected me to jump up and accept this destiny that you’d worked out in your head, but did you ever consider that maybe that’s not the destiny I want? I wasn’t raised to be a princess or a leader. . . .
Cress, third book in Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles, opens with quickly building action. While adding a few new characters -namely, Cress- the story revolves around Cinder and her motley crew of fugitives. Their mission: to save the world in general, and Kai, ruler of New Bejing, in particular, from Levana, the evil Lunar Queen.
Kai, in a bid to prevent a devastating interplanetary war against Lunar, has agreed to marry Levana. Cinder is determined to stop this marriage, but as a fugitive, her operations are limited.
Enter Cress. Cress is a Lunar shell, incapable of doing Lunar “magic.” She is, however, a technological genius. Cress lives on a satellite station and works as a technological operative for Levana. She is, bluntly put, an incredibly gifted hacker. She is also incredibly lonely, but she has a secret.
Everyone is looking for Linh Cinder, escaped fugitive, Lunar and cyborg. Everyone is looking, except Cress. She already knows Cinder’s location and is determined to help Cinder and her crew evade Levana.
Cress is a giddy school-girl of a character, quite like Tangled’s Rapunzel. She is horribly sweet, and readers will enjoy her addition to the Lunar Chronicles cast. They will also enjoy the budding romance between Cress and Carswell Thorne, escaped prisoner and captain of Cinder’s ship. (Star Wars lovers will notice and appreciate a definite parallel between Thorne and Hans Solo!)
In a day and age of dark fiction, readers will enjoy this light-hearted adventure. The cast of characters, though ever expanding, is well handled. As the series progresses, the story is increasingly told from the viewpoint of multiple characters: a device that Meyer uses well.
In the midst of action, humor alleviates much of the story’s tension. Cinder herself is sarcastic, at one time quipping,
I’m sure that poor etiquette is the number one reason for most failed revolutions.
While Cinder is cynical, Scarlet is sassy, and then there is Iko, Cinder’s sidekick android.
During most of the story, Iko has taken over their spaceship’s network system. Through the sound system, Iko provides plenty of humor. In fact, she is unquestionably developed as a character with a personality. Her opinionated tirades are downright funny.
See? Injustice. Here we are, risking our lives to rescue Kai and this whole planet, and Adri and Pearl [Cinder’s step-family] get to go to the royal wedding. I’m disgusted. I hope they spill soy sauce on their fancy dresses.
Later, Iko scolds a new crew member:
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?
Throughout Cress, Cinder herself is growing as a character and as a leader,
Despite what the doctor had said, she couldn’t just save herself. It wasn’t only loyalty and friendship that made every fiber of her body rebel against the notion she could abandon them all.
It was the knowledge that without them, she was useless. She needed them to stop the wedding and rescue Kai. She needed them to get her to Luna. She needed them to help her save the world.
Readers will appreciate this third book in the Lunar Trilogy. Marissa Meyer has flawlessly knit together a series, ever building toward a climax, that now includes Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and -introduced at the end of the book- Snow White. Readers will have to wait till next year’s publication of Winter to learn the outcome of this adventure.
Discerning readers will not find in Cress a depth of theology or worldview. Only one ambiguous reference to destiny finds its way into the pages of Cress:
Maybe there isn’t such a thing as fate. Maybe it’s just the opportunities we’re given, and what we do with them. I’m beginning to think that maybe great, epic romances don’t just happen. We have to make them ourselves.
The same observation is true of books, and Marissa Meyer has made an enjoyable, interesting, and engaging fantasy series that is sure to be enjoyed by YA readers. This series would be perfect for summer reading!
Worldview/Moral Value 3.5 (out of 5)
Literary/Artistic Value 3.5 (out of 5)