“Cress” (Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer
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.
If you’ve read the first two books, you’ve already met most of these characters, so I’ll start with the obvious:
Cinder – I loved how much more of her there was in this installment. She rose to the occasion, believed in her destiny, and made decisions that are finally befitting of the revelations about her true identity. When she taps into her power, she’s unstoppable.
Emperor Kai – The chapters from his perspective tended to be bogged down in politics and brooding, but he’s still the intelligent, sensitive leader we first met in “Cinder.” Even as he faces the toughest of personal decisions, he can’t help but miss Cinder.
Scarlet – There wasn’t much about Scarlet in this book (with the addition of Cress, someone’s storyline had to take a backseat, and this time it was Scarlet’s), but she remains a fighter with a courageous spirit. She also realizes how much she feels about Wolf.
Wolf – I picture him like the muscular, masculine hero depicted on romance book covers. He’s got a dangerous, animalistic side to him (natch), but he’s also single-mindedly devoted to Scarlet and loyal to Cinder.
Thorne – Capt. Thorne thinks himself a arrogant rake, but that’s only part of the story. He’s also a resourceful, dashing, hilarious leading man who will stop at nothing to save and protect the only person with unconditional faith in him.
Iko – (not pictured) She is the AI consciousness (ala microchip) that is installed in Thorne’s ship, but what she really wants is to be installed in a sexy cyborg body. I love how brassy and sassy and swoony she is all the time.
Cress – Our newest character is a beautiful tech genius who has been kept sequestered for seven years. She finally defies her mistress in order to help Cinder and her crew, and she harbors a huge crush on Capt. Thorne.
Cress is the answer to the question of who Thorne is supposed to end up with, since I never got a serious love triangle vibe from him and Cinder (although apparently many readers ship Cinder and Thorne). Like Rapunzel, Cress has ridiculously long hair that hasn’t been trimmed in seven years. She is the best hacker in the universe, but everything she knows about “Earthens” was learned via the net.
Cress is the most vulnerable of Meyer’s heroines: Cinder at least had Peony, and Scarlet of course had her amazing grandmother, but Cress is a Lunar “shell” — considered useless to Lunar society except for the way in which she’s exploited. Friendless and naive, this genius approaches her time on Earth (and with Thorne) with fresh eyes. She can see what others miss and appreciates what others take for granted. I found her easy to love and her blossoming relationship with Thorne authentically developed (considering all the romances are quite obvious; these are fairy tale-derived stories).
Cinder’s growth in this book was remarkable. She is becoming the kind of force who really could defeat Queen Levana. She’s learned how to rally her troops, how to deal with new friends and allies, how to better use her skills (both Lunar and Earthen), and how to deal with her obvious feelings for Emperor Kai. She knows what she has to do, and she does it, but she knows she doesn’t have to do it alone. I can’t wait for 2015, when “Winter” comes out to reveal exactly how these FOUR young women (and their loves) come together to save the day.
This series continues to surpass my expectations. Just when I think there’s no way she can keep up the world-building, the character development, and the unputdownable plot of the previous installment, she manages to craft yet another amazing adventure-meets-fairytale. Unfortunately you can’t read “Cress” until you’ve read “Cinder” and “Scarlet,” but that’s actually a good thing, because I promise you will be hooked on this universe. My love for it nearly matches my love for Melina Marchetta’s “Lumatere Chronicles,” so you know I’m not kidding around when I tell you to drop whatever else is on your TBR list and get these books right away. Special shout-out to Brittany for getting me “Cinder” back in December!
“As someone who understands why you did this, and admires your ability to actually accomplish it, I am-pleading with you. Cinder. Please. Take me back.”
She filled up her lungs. “No.”
“Do you think it was destiny that brought us together?”
He squinted and, after a thoughtful moment, shook his head. “No. I’m pretty sure it was Cinder.”
He froze, becoming stone still. As the hover climbed the hill to the palace, his shoulders sank, and he returned his gaze to the window. “She’s my alpha,” he murmured, with a haunting sadness in his voice. (Oh, Wolf!)