Hello everyone and welcome back! I’m continuing with last time’s series review of The Lunar Chronicles’ by Marissa Meyer. From now on, my reviews and ramblings will be here every other week as I cope with twelfth grade and all the work and time that it entails.
Today, I’m reviewing the third book in The Lunar Chronicles – Cress. As I’ve mentioned in my reviews of Cinder and Scarlet, the first and second books in this tetralogy, The Lunar Chronicles is a sci-fi and fantasy adaptation of four fairytales – Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White – with all four stories intertwining at different points in time.
Cress is the retelling of Rapunzel, a popular story that has inspired several young girls to have long hair. However, I’ve always felt there was some sort of ambiguity about the ending of the story. In most versions, Rapunzel is a girl locked in a tower, kidnapped as a baby by the evil Mother Gothel or witchy equivalent. She longs to be free. Her sort-of-adoptive-mother isn’t always in the tower, and when she returns from her travels and must climb back up, Rapunzel lets down her long hair, using it as a rope, for Mother Gothel to scale the tower. One day, a prince comes along, and falls in love with Rapunzel, but he doesn’t know how to reach he r- until one night, he sees Mother Gothel asking Rapunzel to “let down her hair”. The two fall in love, until Gothel finds out. From what I recall, in the classic German version by the Brothers Grimm, the story ends with Rapunzel saving the prince, who is blinded after falling from the tower into thorny bushes, followed closely by a happy ending.
There are several references to the tale, both subtle and rather pointed, but I do enjoy how Meyer draws inspiration from the fairytale without making her story predictable or boring. The main reference to the tale is that Cress, a hacker and technological genius of sorts, remains imprisoned on a satellite, gathering intel and information on the leaders and laws of the Earthen Union.
We were first introduced to Cress at the end of book one, when a brief connection through a Lunar chip allows Cress to warn Cinder of Levana’s plans to marry and then kill Prince Kai once she is empress of the Eastern Commonwealth. This review will contain spoilers for books one, two, and three, so if you haven’t read them yet, go read them now! If you’d like to read my reviews of Cinder and Scarlet, then check out the links down below.
Now onto the synopsis: “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 net screens 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 higher 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.”
The group is separated early on in the story, with Scarlet being captured during the rescue of Cress – the result of which is her absenteeism from most of this book. In addition to losing Scarlet, Cress and Thorne are separated from Cinder, Wolf and Jacin Clay – a pilot who joined Cinder’s side. Jacin was a royal guard, bringing thaumaturge Sybil Mira back and forth from Luna to her technological protégé’s satellite.
Cress and Thorne crash-land in the desert, unable to identify what part of Africa they’re in. Another reference to the original tale is when Thorne is blinded during the crash and its impact, leaving him with an overwhelmed and unsure Cress as his eyes.
After some missteps and misinterpretations, Cress is recognised as a Lunar shell, and is taken to Dr. Erland as a new subject for his blood experiments in finding the cure for letumosis. (If you recall, at the end of book one, Dr. Erland escaped and urged Cinder to join him down in Africa so that she could learn how to use her powers and ultimately lead the Lunar revolution.)
However, Dr. Erland – previously known as Dr. Darnel on Luna – is withdrawn and hesitant – it is later revealed that Cress is actually Crescent Moon Darnel, his daughter. The two never had a moment to confront their bond, for Dr. Erland dies from a fast-spreading mutation of letumosis, before Cress could say hello or goodbye.
I found the book to be enjoyable and well-paced with convincing and compelling plot twists that helped build up the tension we need to see for the revolution on Luna. For me, the only downside is that Scarlet and Kai are mostly absent in this book, except for the snippets we see of Scarlet on Luna, in Princess Winter’s care.
The book ends with the group reuniting and stopping Kai’s unfortunate wedding to Levana. They tranquilize Kai and remove his ID and tracking chips, before escaping on the Rampion to Luna. Queen Levana openly declares war on Earth.
Overall, Cress exceeded my expectations, and surpassed both Scarlet and Cinder in terms of tension, plot-pacing and character development as the stakes rose higher. The third book has deviated the most from the conventional fairy-tale pattern that Meyer was following, and provided more insight into the ways and workings of their new technological world, incorporating more sci-fi themes into the fantasy story.
That’s it for this week! Stay tuned for my review of the final book, ‘Winter’, coming soon!
Read more Lunar Chronicle reviews by Nikita here: