Cress by Marissa Meyer
Published by: Feiwel and Friends
Genres: Sci-fi, Fantasy, Romance
Shelved as: Why?
For fans of: This series. Really. I can’t think of anything else.
My rating: 2.5 stars out of 5.
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 netscreens 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 high 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.
So, I finished Cress about a week ago and have been putting off writing this review in hopes that I’d calm down enough to write a decent, slightly less rant-y review. Clearly that’s not going to happen because, a week later, I AM STILL SO VERY MAD.
Considering all the gushy reviews this thing has gotten on Goodreads, I feel like a bit of a black sheep. Honestly, I do. I’m trying so hard to think of something good to say about this book, but am failing miserably. This was, simply put, a lackluster, pathetic mess that took me almost a month to finish because the mere thought of picking it up gave me an ache in the center of my forehead.
Cress is a loose-retelling of Rapunzel, the fairytale princess who, thanks to Disney, we all know as a sweet, charismatic, quirky and incredibly resourceful young woman who manages to overcome obstacles and save her (and Flynn’s) bacon with her quick thinking, sick negotiation skills and her diplomacy. And what, I ask you, does Cress have in common with our wonderful Punzie? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
Cress Darnel is a self-proclaimed “damsel in distress” waiting for her “white knight”. I kid you not. She actually calls herself that. Initially, I thought this might have been the author’s way of poking fun at fairy tale tropes, but no, Cress held on to these crazy delusions so tightly, that she might as well have locked herself up in a tower far, far away from the reader’s attention for how boring and flat she became. Every time Cress was front and center in this novel, I found my gaze skimming the page and moving on, picking and choosing the more important bits of information rather than listen to Cress moan and whine about how her “knight” wasn’t showing much interest in her. By the end of the novel, I just couldn’t stomach her at all.
Which brings me to Thorne. I actually liked Thorne in Scarlet. I found the flirtatious Captain funny and charming, and I wanted to see more of him. But in between Cress putting this man on a freaking pedestal and the eye-roll worthy romance with Cress that the book’s storyline was trying to force on him, I found myself becoming more and more disinterested with him as the story progressed. He, like all the other characters in this book, didn’t develop or change despite the fact that he was given the biggest opportunity to do so. He went blind, for God’s sake. Shouldn’t that have, I don’t know, given us all the chance to see a different side of Thorne? No, he remained the same old funny-man that we’d gotten used to in the Scarlet and took his blindness in stride. He didn’t complain, or question things, or even sit down to be useless for five goddamned minutes. It was all very realistic, don’t you know?
My (second) favorite character, Wolf, was absolutely, freaking useless throughout the entirety of this book. He let himself be used as Cinder’s practice dummy every now and again, but beyond that? Nada. Useless. A sad little emo-wolf-wonder that couldn’t be bothered to actually do anything besides ask when, where, and how he was going to see Scarlet again. Needless to say, I am furious about this.
Scarlet was… basically our link to the next book. that’s it. That’s all her presence in this novel contributed to. Moving on.
Cinder. Sigh. Cinder, Cinder, Cinder. Ever the ignorant leader, I’m afraid. Look, I get she’s in this impossible position where she was an ill-treated cyborg one minute and the next she’s got the fate of the planet resting on her shoulders, but this girl does nothing but make bad decisions and worry she’s going to turn into Levana 2.0. She could, you know, talk to her friends and insist they discuss plans properly, right? Queens and princesses and war generals consult with their peers all the time before making decisions.
And do not even get me started on Kai. I have openly called him the dimmest character in this entire series – which is actually saying a lot considering the fact that no one else in these books can go from point A to point B without someone to hold their hand. But no one fails to glue together two pieces of connected information quite like Kai. He is so pathetically idealistic that he does not, for one minute, stop to wonder why on earth Levana’s persecuting Cinder with such blinding fury. Not once. THIS IS THE EMPEROR OF THE COMMONWEALTH, PEOPLE. And when the “big reveal” finally did happen, he wasn’t even shocked. For someone who spent three books completely ignorant to things right under his nose, he sure did take things in stride, I’ll tell you.
By about the 50% mark, the only reasons I kept coming back to this book were Iko, who’s still as wonderful as ever, and my own curiosity. I so desperately wanted for something to change – to be taken by surprise with this book. But it just didn’t happen.
Cress did the worst thing any novel could do by telling its readers what was going to happen at the very beginning of the book. Cinder told us she was going to stop the royal wedding and then maybe go to Lunar. And that’s what happened. The only surprise was that they crashed in the middle of the desert, but really, who among us didn’t already know that Mission Rescue Cress wasn’t going to end in catastrophe? (I mean, first off, the blurb already gave that away. And even if it hadn’t, it was just such a predictable move…)
Anyway, I didn’t love Cress. I didn’t even particularly like Cress. BUT, because I’ve put myself through this series and its novellas already (and because I’m apparently a bit of a masochistic) I want to see this through to the end, so I’ll be reading Winter, when it comes out.
If you read this hoping for character development and unpredictable plot, I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to look elsewhere. You are not going to find either of those here. But, if you did love Cinder and Scarlet and weren’t just on the fence about them like I was, then maybe you’ll enjoy this one as well. I don’t know. All I know is that I didn’t like this and cannot, in good conscience, recommend it anyone besides the people who already love this series.