By Marissa Meyer
Feiwel and Friends, 2014. 560 pgs. Young Adult
Cress has spent most of her life trapped alone in a satellite, orbiting the moon. Apart from occasional visits from the cruel thaumaturge Sybil, Cinder’s only contact with the human world has been through net dramas and the vast Lunar spy network she monitors across the Earth. When their ship nears Cress’s satellite, Cinder, Thorne, Scarlet, and Wolf attempt a daring rescue, but it goes awry. With one ally left behind and the others separated and hurtling toward the African desert, Cinder’s group of friends faces terrible danger.
I enjoyed this thoroughly original take on the Rapunzel story. Meyer’s fairytale retellings are some of the most creative I’ve come across, and I love the diversity in her characters. Both her main and secondary characters come from a variety of ethnicities and nationalities. I also love that Meyer’s female leads are fully fleshed out and often defy gender norms. Though Cress initially seems all too eager to take on the damsel in distress role, she grew on me as she proves her skills as a computer hacker and a surprisingly brave member of Cinder’s rebellion.
For me, the first part of Cress seemed slower than Meyer’s first two novels, which I think is a natural result of telling the story from the perspectives of an ever-expanding cast of main characters. At times when the perspective switched, I had to actively resist the temptation to skip ahead to follow the more exciting plot lines. The final conflict of the novel had me racing through the pages, though, and I was happy with the conclusion. Now I’m left impatiently waiting on hold for Winter, the final installment of the Lunar Chronicles!