Cress: The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
Genre: Fiction, fantasy, science-fiction, fractured fairy tale, robots, young adult, but I need to know how this ends now! ::sobs quietly::
Rating: 4.78 out of 5 stars
Summary: Cinder is still on the run from the nefarious Queen Levana, but now she has several allies, including the charismatic Captain Thorne, the genetically engineered Lunar soldier Wolf, Scarlet, the granddaughter of the revolutionary and Iko, the cutest little robot that ever was. With help from Lunar hacker Cress who has switched alliances after being trapped on a satellite for the past seven years, Cinder and company have a plan to stop New Beijing Emperor Kai from marrying the Lunar Queen Levana who has plans to destroy humanity once she has claimed her throne.
Set after the events in Cinder (inspired by Cinderella), and the second book in the series Scarlet (centered on Red Riding Hood), Cress (the third book in The Lunar Chronicles) is inspired by the fairy tale of Rapunzel, the beautiful girl with long hair who gets pregnant because she doesn’t know how babies are made and ends up wandering the desert after her beloved prince is blinded by the evil witch. A witch who only locked Rapunzel in a tower in the first place because her mother needed to eat plants from the garden of a witch super bad.
I may be paraphrasing.
In this fractured fairy tale, Cress is a Lunar shell, one of the non-magical and non-powerful Lunars who are supposed to be murdered by decree of infanticide laws but are instead used as slaves/workers for the Lunar army in secret. Cress is imprisoned aboard a satellite orbiting earth in order to seek out the enemies of Queen Levana at the urging of her guard Thaumaturge Sybil Mira, who is in charge of all the Lunar shells. A thaumaturge is basically in charge of a squadron of easily controllable soldiers although in this instance she serves as a stand in for the witch that kept Rapunzel captive in her tower. Or in this case, satellite.
Unlike the other fractured fairy tales in the series, I found Cress’ tale to be more in line with her Grimm counterpart. In addition to being locked away because of an indiscretion by her parents (giving birth to a shell), she has a love interest who goes blind after a failed attempt to rescue her from capture, she eventually has her beautiful and impossibly long locks cut (although this time for practical purposes) and she finds herself wandering the desert as a result of her freedom. Not to mention that much how Rapunzel is named after a plant, so too is Crescent Moon, whose nickname Cress is a type of vegetable. It took me a while, but I see what you did there Marissa Meyer.
Despite the story getting even more POVs, I didn’t mind this time around when we get to see into the thoughts of Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Emperor Kai, Dr. Erland, Iko, Captain Thorne and Thaumaturge Sybil Mira. Although the main characters are favored more than others, Meyer did a good job in this book of spreading the love between the POVs so that we’re not away from anyone for too long.
Winning the POV race however would have to be Cress, who crushed on Captain Carswell Thorne (think Captain Jack Harkness) through the screens in her room and Thorne himself, the sassy, handsome and charismatic ship captain with a dastardly past who can’t seem to convince Cress that she deserves better. Particularly because his random acts of randomness (setting a tiger free from the zoo, stealing a diamond necklace, etc) while originally claimed to be for a good cause actually weren’t.
Although I do give Kai props as well. Not only because he’s the sexiest Emperor to ever Emperor, but because it’s through him that we get to see the most world building. For example the dismantling of the cyborg draft, for which cyborgs are used to test vaccines for the plague.
In addition to exploring new locations like the Lunar refugee camp in Africa where the deadly blue fever originally broke out (AIDS much?), the surrounding desert, life aboard a Lunar satellite and in the far reaches of space, Meyer finally gives us a glimpse of life on the moon, where the Lunars are presented as cold, calculating, and exceedingly cruel beings resentful of humans. So much so that they keep them as pets inside cages in a sort of human zoo, or in their homes for their children to practice their mind control powers on. Truly terrifying. Hence why some of them would want to escape their dictator Queen Levana.
We also finally return to Cinder’s home of New Beijing, a futuristic Asia in which cyborgs are classed as second class citizens and Emperor Kai (Cinder’s love interest) is set to be married to the dangerous and tricksy Queen Levana, who has the Lunar power to glamour herself and control the minds of others. In this world, Earth has formed a Commonwealth following the 4th World War to keep the peace, but the Lunars (a race who evolved from the first human moon colony) are threatening this peace and the lives of humanity.
New Beijing is currently over the moon (not literally) with excitement over the marriage of Emperor Kai to Queen Levana (because YAY royal wedding!), with Kai reluctantly accepting the marriage alliance in order to get his hands on the anecdote for Letumosis, a plague which is currently wreaking havoc on the citizens of earth and which the Lunars conveniently have a cure for. Unfortunately, this alliance doesn’t sit well with the other nations, especially since Levana proved in Scarlet that she is not afraid to release her genetically-engineered wolf super soldiers on the citizens if they seek to rebel.
It’s all very complicated. But enthralling.
Even more exciting, Meyer gives a tease at what we can expect from the final book in the series: Winter, which focuses on Queen Levana’s damaged stepdaughter inspired by Snow White. So in the final book we can probably expect one more POV full of adorable insanity, specifically Princess Winter, a beautiful yet scarred and crazed royal who is desperately in love with Lunar guard Jacin Clay (who we get glimpses of in Cress). I barely know anything about their love affair but it’s already my OTP. Cannot wait!
- Cress is absolutely the cutest
- Great to see what Cinder and Captain Thorne (especially Thorne) are up to
- Welcome back Emperor Kai, I missed you
- So excited to read Winter and see how all of the stories are tied up!
- Sometimes (not all the time) but sometimes Scarlet and Wolf can be a bit much
As with the other books in The Lunar Chronicles, Cress was preceded by a short story (see also: Glitches (The Lunar Chronicles 0.5) and The Queen’s Army (The Lunar Chronicles 1.5), however this one was directly inspired by another fairy tale rather than being instrumental to the plot taking place in The Lunar Chronicles. Specifically, it’s a touching story inspired by the original Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen entitled The Little Android. READ IT. And then weep. So hard.