This last energy burst before the year ends, the final motivation to catch up on some challenges, finish my Goodreads reading goal, and generally get mount TBR to a more manageable size (because Christmas will invariably bring new books) has led me to one of my favorite guilty pleasures. Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles have really improved, but I still know I like these books way more than I should…
Published by: Feiwel & Friends, 2014
Ebook: 550 pages
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #3
My rating: 7,5/10
First sentence: Her satellite made one full orbit around planet Earth every sixteen hours.
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 Lunar Chronicles equivalent of Rapunzel, although I must start by commending Marissa Meyer for doing the one thing that I always yearn for in any version of Rapunzel – cut that damn hair off!!! I recently went from very long to quite short hair, myself, and I can only echo Cress’ relief (both literally and metaphorically) at saying bye-bye to her long mane.
But Cress’ hair isn’t her biggest problem. She lives on a satellite with only a computer program version of her younger self for company. Yes, she has access to the internet and yes, her mistress visits her regularly to bring food. But Cress is essentially a shut-in who only gets to see the world through TV screens. She longs to set foot on Earth one day, and she also longs for an adventurous romance with her personal hero, Carswell Thorne..
Now, I don’t know if I mentioned it in my review of Scarlet, but Thorne has been totally stealing everyone’s show since he joined Cinder. As fairy tale princes go, count me in for that one. He’s arrogant, and vain, and mercenary, and sarcastic. He is also secretly kind, pretends his heroics are purely selfish acts when they aren’t (at least not always), and he lives through one of the worst nightmares I can imagine, still keeping up a smile because others need him to be strong. You see how I’m rambling here? Do you see it? This is what Marissa Meyer does really well. As silly as some of her plots may be, as flat or one-dimensional certain characers are, she still somehow manages to get you so into the story that you don’t mind. You just want these people to accomplish their mission and then finally kiss and be happy together.
Cress is a departure from the two previous books, in that the author now has to juggle a whole cast of main characters, rather than focusing on one (Cinder in Cinder) or two (Cinder and Scarlet in Scarlet). Now we jump between the three heroines as well as the side characters. And that’s a great thing, if you ask me. Because the characters are all rather flat, switching between their points of view gives the story a bit of variety. They also improved a lot as character depth goes. This is not high literature (whatever that means) but there are glimpses of variety in Cress’ and Thorne’s and Wolf’s character.
Despite my swooning over Carswell Thorne, I can still recognise him for the tropey character he is. I’m even more surprised, however, by Cinder’s development. She is unrecognisable from the person she was in her own book. Scarlet, whose story was the weakest so far, sadly gets very little to say or do throughout the story – and when the plot finally does focus on her a little, she is a victim, thrown around between people more powerful than her. Scarlet might as well be an object for all the stuff she does…
As for plot, my main gripe with Scarlet, I have no complaints here. Cress is a fast-moving, fun joyride of a novel, with plenty of life-threatening situations to throw our heroes into. Some sequences were put in pretty much only for the purpose of adding that Rapunzel-flair, but even though the chapters in question could be cut without harming the main story arc, I am still quite happy they are there. We are still building up to the big finale but Cress can stand on its own two legs as a book. It is by far my favorite instalment in the Lunar Chronicles and I hope the increased quality will continue in Winter.
Lastly, I need to mention the romance. Every volume has one and every time it’s obvious who will end up with whom. Exceeeeept, I’m not entirely sure anymore. There are sparks flying between characters where I didn’t expect it. I have no idea whether that’s intentional or not. But the main romance, between Cress and Carswell, was also an improvement to previous ones. Cress is in love with Thorne before she even meets him but his affection builds more slowly – to the point where we’re not even sure he is in love with her. But take it from me: There is a kiss in this book and it is so up my alley I may have squeed a little when it happened…
Now I believe that was enough swooning and more than enough mentions of Carswell Thorne. Winter is waiting on my shelf and, unlike the other books in the series, I will not wait long to read it.
MY RATING: 7,5/10 – Actually very good!