Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Book Review: Cress by Marissa Meyer

It's amazing what you can do with a pinch of imagination and a sprinkle or two of creativity. Just take a look at the shelves upon shelves of retellings of classical tales, and you'll realize just how much power authors have. Their ability to take something old, then completely transform it into something of their own is awesome in its own right, and it never ceases to amaze me! Marissa Meyer does just that in the "Lunar Chronicles", reimagining traditional fairytales and giving it a sci-fi spin. "Cress" is the third and latest installment to the series, introducing a twist on the time-old story of Rapunzel (I mean, the hair on the cover is a dead giveaway).

Cress can't let down her hair--or her guard. Trapped in a satellite since childhood with only her computer for company, Cress has become a master hacker, and is determined to escape Thamaturge Sybil's clutches. Her only hope of freedom lies with Cinder and her friends--especially her handsome accomplice, Captain Thorne-- though things aren't exactly easy when Queen Levana orders her to track down the fugitives, fearing that Cinder will destroy her plans to takeover Earth. But when the rescue mission goes awry, the group is separated. With Queen Levana and Emperor Kai's marriage drawing closer and closer, Cress, Cinder and Scarlet know that they may be the only ones who can save Earth--before it's too late.

What I especially love about the "Lunar Chronicles" series is that despite the fact that new characters are constantly being introduced with every book, the old characters still play central roles in the story. Cress is the newest addition to the lively cast of characters as a re-embodiment of Rapunzel. What struck me about Cress is that she seems incredibly young, especially given her petite size (the mass of hair doesn't exactly help her height either). Admittedly, it took me a little while to get used to the idea of Cress being a teenager rather than an eight-year old, but her naivete does make sense given her solitary confinement throughout her entire childhood. In fact, her awkwardness and zeal makes her a pretty adorable character, especially her infatuation with Captain Thorne. Thorne, of course, is as charmingly arrogant and witty as ever, and I was delighted to see him play a larger role in the book. It was really interesting to see their relationship develop, and what made it even more enjoyable to read was the fact that it was developed believably. While we did have Cress already head-over-heels "in love" with the dashing Thorne, Ms. Meyer took their relationship into unexpected directions, away from the gag-worthy insta-love cliche, which added a very realistic dimension to their budding romance.

The rest of the characters in "Cress" were just as exciting to follow in this latest installment to the series. Cinder is, as always, a strong, determined heroine, one who really has developed a lot throughout the series so far, and is still struggling to come to terms with her newfound identity and the responsibilities that come with it. Though Scarlet and Wolf aren't as central to the story as they were in the second book, they are still notably part of the team, and it was endearing to see their relationship in the aftermath of "Scarlet." Kai, Dr. Erland, and the rest of the gang were also present, and it really is like seeing old friends again! Ms. Meyer's decision to have the chapters told from all these different characters' points of view really added dimensions and layers to the story, and gave readers the time to really be with all the characters they've become so familiar with over the course of the series, which I appreciated a great deal.

The plot of "Cress" is exciting and compelling throughout, picking up from right where we left off in the previous book and catapulting through adventures and complications with an appropriately fast pace. The stakes are high from the onset, and the tension remains up and running throughout the entire novel. A lot of things happen in the story, especially the big revelation with Dr. Erland (you'll have to read it to find out what it is for yourself!), and what really strikes me is that I still remember all that's happened, despite the fact that I finished reading the novel about a week ago. And that's when you know you've read a really good book--when it's memorable!

Overall, "Cress" is an intergalactic adventure that is not to be missed. The newest addition to the "Lunar Chronicles" series is jam-packed with a dynamic cast of characters and a stellar storyline. I highly recommend this series for anyone looking for a good read--I already can't wait for the next installment, "Winter" (you're up next, Snow White).

Rating: 5/5

P.S. See my review for the previous book in the "Lunar Chronicles" series, "Scarlet," here!

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