My teenage daughter and I have been enjoying the audio versions of Marissa Meyer’s LUNAR CHRONICLES. The third one is Cress (2014) and it follows Cinder and Scarlet, which you’ll need to read first. (There are bound to be some spoilers for those novels in this review of Cress.)
Each of the LUNAR CHRONICLES stories is a fresh and loose retelling of a classic fairy tale: Cinder = Cinderella, Scarlet = Red Riding Hood, and Cress = Rapunzel.
Cress begins with a helpful summary of events so far in which we are reminded that Cinder, Scarlet, Thorne, and Wolf are planning to defeat evil Queen Levana so that she can’t marry Emperor Kai and get control of Earth. The wedding is set to take place in 15 days, so they don’t have much time to train and prepare. Their plan is to infiltrate the wedding, reveal Cinder as the lost Princess Selene, and demand that Levana give up her crown. Cinder worries, however, that the Lunar people won’t accept her because she’s a cyborg and didn’t grow up on Luna.
Cress is Queen Levana’s best hacker. (And she has really long hair.) The queen keeps Cress isolated in a satellite orbiting Earth where she hacks in and observes all the drama unfolding on the planet below. She knows her boss has evil plans for Earth, so she can’t help but develop a sympathy for, and a desire to help, Emperor Kai and Cinder. (And she also has a crush on Thorne.) When Levana orders Cress to find Cinder so she can be eliminated, Cress’s loyalty is tested.
Like the previous installments, Cress is full of action, humor, and romance. Our heroes experience kidnappings, imprisonment, torture (not gory, thankfully), treks across inhospitable landscapes, battles, illness, blindness, and near-death experiences. We learn more about their backgrounds, get answers about the lunar sickness, and we meet some new intriguing characters who will feature prominently in the next novel, Winter.
My daughter and I are slightly annoyed that each character has to have a love interest but at this point we’re fully invested in Cinder’s story and we look forward to Levana’s defeat.
I haven’t thought about these books in such a long time. I remember liking them, but I agree that this romance felt forced. (Strange, because I’ve seen more people shipping Cress/Thorne online than any of the other romances in this series.)
I believed in Kai and Cinder but the others didn’t feel quite right. It’s especially annoying that everyone has to be paired off. As a mother of teenagers, I don’t want them to get the message that you’re not complete without a mate.
I liked Wolf and Scarlet as well (at the time) but don’t think much of this pairing or the one in book 4. As someone who didn’t date until her very late teen years, I also wish there were more teen protagonists who don’t have to fall in love, especially when the alternative is romances that don’t make sense.