Pushing Characters to Their Limits: Cress by Marissa Meyer

When I first jumped on the Lunar Chronicles bandwagon, I was late to the party. I tend to avoid any novel in the blogosphere that is garnering a ton of hype, due to past experiences where the hype completely killed my enjoyment. However, I dove into Cinder trepidatiously and came out completely in love, mostly thanks to the sweet nostalgia feelings from the cleverly added Sailor Moon references. And if that wasn’t clear before, I’m somewhat of a huge Sailor Moon fangirl.

Unfortunately, with Scarlet, I didn’t get the same warm fuzzies and I began to worry that this story was simply too big for Meyer to conquer. Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy Scarlet, but the pacing and connection to the characters didn’t happen for me. It wouldn’t be the first time I read a series where the best book was the first book. So, again, I found myself wary for Cress, but those worries proved to be unnecessary. Ahem, allow me to eat my words.

Cress is a complete improvement over Cinder and Scarlet. Where Cinder had its issues with predictability, Cress’s plot was noticeably tighter. While Scarlet had parts where the pacing felt off due to the dual point of views, Cress kicked it up a few notches with perfectly timed highs and lows. At no point did I find myself bored to tears, banging my head against the wall from frustration, throwing the book across the room, or simply suffering from major disappointment. It’s action-packed, well plotted, and exciting!

I should probably take this time to mention that if you haven’t read Cinder and Scarlet, 1) it’s time to re-examine your life choices 2) the rest of the review may contain slight spoilers.

The novel begins with the gang (Cinder, Thorne, Scarlet, Wolf, and Iko) on a mission to rescue Cress from her satellite. STUFF happens and things go horribly wrong, causing them to separate. What I loved about this was it gave the reader the perfect opportunity to get to know each individual character in a more intimate manner. Thorne and Cress end up stranded in the Sahara Desert, which is interesting because Cress has never stepped foot on Earth and being isolated for years didn’t exactly grant her the best social skills, and due to certain circumstances on the satellite, Throne is left a bit handicapped. It makes for an unlikely team and optimal time for character development and revelations. The only thing that I’m not too sure of is the romance brewing. To ship or not to ship, that is the question.

Cinder on the other hand, struggles with decisions that she made on the satellite, ultimately leading to unfortunate outcomes for both Scarlet and Wolf. Can she really do this, lead people and start a rebellion? Should she simply give up and continue hiding from Levana? Is she slowly becoming the very woman whom she fears? She’s conflicted for most of the novel and tends to second guess herself a lot more once she realizes how severe the consequences of her actions can be. Basically, Cinder is no Mary Sue and carries mistakes and flaws just like any other character in this series.

Scarlet is not as present in Cress, but her role looks like it’ll be more important in the final installment, Winter. I can’t really talk about what Scarlet endures in this novel because I’m tip toeing around a minefield of spoilers here, but I was very surprised to see how far Meyer was willing push her character’s limits. And if you’ve already read Cress, I think you know exactly what scene I’m referring to. Can we say, “WOW?” I’m resisting the urge to throw in a “Brace Yourself” meme.

Overall, I’m left both amazed and impressed with Cress. I can confidently say that this series just gets better and better and I’d consider this my favorite so far. With the sneak peek of the newest character, Winter, at the end, I’m eagerly waiting for the final book. Gimme, Gimme, Gimme.


Cress is available now from Feiwel & Friends.

Stephanie Sinclair is one half of Cuddlebuggery, the Young Adult book blog dedicated to corrupting the reading community with sinister shenanigans, and an editor at YA Books Central.


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