Oh, I love this series. But let me tell you, I wasn't planning on reading Cress just yet--'til I got the email. It was Goodreads "New Releases by Authors You've Read" email for October, and when I went to the full page, there it was: Winter. The final book in Meyer's series. It was marked as being released on October 13th. And I went in a frenzy. I hadn't read Cress yet! I hadn't read Fairest yet! I had to read them! So I scurried off and bought Cress, and absolutely devoured it. Eager for what was next, I went to check out Winter...and found that it's real release date is not October 13th, but November 10th. Goodreads had lied to me! How dare it? Well, it looks like the first two chapters of Winter will be available for preview on October 13th, and that's what the email referred to--which is a pretty big cop-out, if you're asking me. Now I have to get Fairest and make its short length last an entire month until I can get my hands on Winter and this series' luscious conclusion.
Because that's just what Cress was, just like the Cinder and Scarlet, the first two books in the series: luscious. The characters, the relationships, the stories, the futuristic setting...It's all just wonderful. In Cress, Meyer brings in her third heroine of the series, Crescent Moon--the titular Cress. Cress is our Rapunzel. She has spent seven years trapped in a satellite orbiting Earth with only an array of computers to keep her company. A Lunar shell--that is, a Lunar without the gift of glamour, for those of you who haven't been reading along (you should be)--she should have been killed as an infant, but was kept alive by one of Queen Levana's lackeys. Cress' computer skills are top-notch, and she's been doing Mistress Sybil's bidding for years, hacking Earthen systems and hiding Lunar ships. Until recently, when a change of heart--or perhaps a realization that what she was doing was wrong--resulted in her switching sides and helping the renegade Cinder and her allies. All Cress wants in return is for them to rescue her from her satellite and take her to Earth.
Of course, things can't be easy. The rescue attempt goes wrong. Cress and Thorne (one of Cinder's allies) end up separated from the rest of the group, castaways in the Sahara desert. Scarlet ends up a captive of the Lunars. Wolf is nearly dead. And Cinder has to figure out how to fix it all and stop Emperor Kaito's marriage to Levana, which would result in pretty much the end of the world. It's a lot for a teenage girl, even a cyborg princess teenage girl, to handle. But she does, with aplomb, and you can't help but root for her. Meanwhile, everything else just gets...worse. Darker. Human (Lunar?) trafficking, slavery, torture, and plague all feature in this book, and while it's aimed at young adults, Meyer definitely doesn't pull punches in the telling.
Meyer did something different with Cress' character. Cinder and Scarlet are both solitary, strong-willed young women who have definite strengths and skills and have been exercising them for a long time. While they may end up in unfamiliar situations, they're still on their own world (for the most part) and know how to deal. For Cress, that isn't the case. An exile for most of her life, her only knowledge of Earth coming through the internet, she's naive and a little immature. She gets through situations by pretending she's someone else. She desperately wants a fairytale romance, in opposition to Scarlet and Cinder, who might have love interests but are more concerned with more pressing matters. Cress isn't as strong as Scarlet and Cinder. She can't fight. She can hack a computer, but that doesn't do her much good when she doesn't have one. She can't navigate, she can't fix things, she has no real knowledge of her new surroundings. Consequently, she has a very different character growth trajectory than Meyer's other heroines. Cress has to gain confidence in herself, which is something that Cinder and Scarlet didn't struggle with as much. It was different, and I liked it. While Cress is definitely naive, she's not so in a way that made me want to slap some sense into her. Instead, I cheered for her, watching her grow and develop and come into her own. Cress isn't going to be a butt-kicker, but she's definitely an asset to Cinder's team and I look forward to seeing more of her.
And Thorne. God, I loved Thorne. Maybe that's because, for most of the book, he's not a point-of-view character and you only see him through Cress' perspective, but I loved him nonetheless. I think Meyer did a great job fleshing him out in this one, making him more than the wacky criminal we'd met previously in Scarlet.
Speaking of Scarlet...I would have loved to see more of her and wolf. They're greatly lacking in this book, and while I can see why, I still wanted more of them. Meyer had to separate Scarlet and Wolf for the plot to work and to keep the tension in their relationship. They got very intense very fast in Scarlet, and I think it might have gotten boring if they had just figured everything out in this one--which they inevitably would have done if they hadn't been separated. But these are fairytale adaptations, and happily ever after can't come until the very end, so I suppose I'll just have to deal with it.
And Winter! We got our first glance at Princess Winter here! So awesome! I can't wait to see more of her. How am I going to go an entire month Winter-less? I don't know.
I only have one complaint about Cress and this series in general. I love that Meyer adds a new fairytale and a new heroine in every book, but when they're all being added to each other, it means that each one ends up getting progressively less page time. It means the story has to jump around more in order to cover everyone. By this point, there is a lot of stuff going on, and while it doesn't get convoluted or hard to follow, none of the girls really got the coverage I would have liked. This might be a good thing--I liked Cress, but it's possible that too much of her would have driven me away, and the reduction of Scarlet's role sets up for the next book. But...still. I felt just a tiny bit like I was getting gipped out of page time with my girls because the book, even at almost six hundred pages, just wasn't long enough to contain the awesomeness of them all.
Here's the thing. I read many books I like. I even read a good number of books I love. But Meyer's Lunar Chronicles fall into a separate category all together: books I will read again and again and again. They're very different, and they're just good. I love them, so, so much. I can't wait until Winter comes out, and then hopefully a box set, because I have the Kindle editions but would love to have these in the flesh (print?).
4.5 stars out of 5.