Friday, June 20, 2014

Book Review - Marissa Meyer's Cress

Cress (The Lunar Chronicles Book 3) by Marissa Meyer
Published by: Feiwel and Friends
Publication Date: February 4th, 2014
Format: Hardcover, 560 Pages
Rating: ★★★★★
To Buy

Cress has spent most of her life in a small satellite looking down on Earth. Gently circling the planet as a shell spying for the Lunars... that's the only apparent use she is, being a shell means she is devoid of magic and is repulsive to her own people. But all that time alone with all that computer equipment has made her into a wicked hacker with romantic tendencies. She dreams of one day being rescued by the people on the planet she has fallen in love with. In fact, lately there is one person in particular that she would really like to be rescued by, Captain Carswell Thorne, Cinder's accomplice in escaping the Commonwealth Prison.

Cinder. Cress has taken an interest in her. She helped Cinder to warn the Emperor Kai that the Lunar Queen Levana was planning on murdering him after they marry and she became Empress. Because of this help Cinder sees Cress as another ally in her fight against Luna and the Queen in order to get back the throne that is rightfully hers and stop Kai's wedding. Therefore Cress is to be rescued from her satellite prison by the dashing Thorne! Cress is living her fantasy for real. Only things don't go quite to plan when her Lunar handler Cybil arrives unexpectedly. The result is that Thorne and Cress are falling out of the heavens on a collision course with Earth, while Scarlet is captured by Cybil, and Cinder is left with Cybil's pilot as well as an injured Wolf. Cinder decides that the time has come to return to Earth and seek out Dr. Erland, who revealed so much of her own secret past to her. In one way or another everyone is headed to northern Africa... though for Cress and Thorne it will be a far more dangerous journey through the heart of the desert, that's if they survive making their way through Earth's atmosphere without burning up... but Cinder's plan of stopping Kai's wedding is still firmly in place... it's just changed a little.

One of my first memories of school relates to Rapunzel. I was in nursery school at Saint Andrew's about a block away from my house. I was four years old and my favorite television show was Shelley Duval's Faerie Tale Theatre. What I liked so much about the show was that it wasn't the sanitized Fairy Tales that the books I had at home depicted. These weren't all happily ever afters. The "Little Mermaid" episode which aired when I was much older is to me the epitome of how this show stuck to the original versions. Poor Pam Dawber from Mork and Mindy died because her love didn't love her.

But at this time I was obsessed with Rapunzel. It had so many things that fascinated me. I wanted Rapunzel's hair (this was around the time it was deemed that because I chewed my hair that it was going to be short till I could behave, these enforced haircuts lasted until about 4th grade and I was never to have that rope of hair). Then there was the tower in which she was trapped, I kind of wanted to live there, and then the prince, rather dubious in my opinion in that he never tried to rescue her but visited all the time (enough times to get her pregnant) but more realistic, because, well, it's a girlfriend you only have to deal with when you want to. But what I loved was the fact that the prince is then blinded and wanders alone in the desert, revenge for his behavior AND just the kind of macabre thing to capture the imagination of a young Wednesday Addams in the making. I always thought of how horrid it would be to not only be blinded, but to have the grains of sand working their way into your eyes and irritating them more. As you can see, I really thought a lot about this story. Rapunzel is just so weird and odd and yet, everything about it made it unforgettable.

Back to why this relates to school. I remember one day spending all this time drawing this picture of Rapunzel in her tower letting down her hair and I raised my hand to ask the teacher a question. My question was if she could spell Rapunzel for me so I could put it on my picture so that everyone would know what it was even if they hadn't heard the story. Firstly she didn't know the story, and secondly, she could obviously not spell it. She spelt it wrong on my drawing, something I can never forgive. I remember sitting there at the little table and I know I had an arched eyebrow on my face. I couldn't believe that someone didn't know this awesome story. This was my first experience with the ignorance of adults, and in particular, educators, wherein it felt like I had to explain everything to them. I've had many great teachers in my life, but I can easily say the ignorant far outweigh the awesome.

Of course you're now thinking, ok, she's a little too attached to a girl named for, basically, lettuce, and this relates to this new interpretation how? Because Marissa Meyer nailed it! That little four year old me that has never died was fist pumping the air. Marissa got it! She totally got the story, the twists, the turns, the dark, the funny, the everything! This was it! This was the story I loved brought into a new form but keeping ahold of me in the same way that that episode of Faerie Tale Theatre did all those years ago. I loved Thorne as the "prince" he has the right "ladies man" douche bag personality, that gets redeemed through his suffering. Oh, and Cress, Cress was so wonderful as the naive princess in the tower not wanting do die before experiencing her first kiss. When the book opened on her in that little satellite going around the earth, my breath was taken away with how perfect of a modernization of the tower this was. The isolation yet coupling that with intelligence and knowledge, gave me a heroine I could really route for.

Yet in a series it isn't how the one book succeeds, but in how it succeeds in connection with the whole arc. How Cress tied into the ongoing plot while adding depth to the story made me sqwee with joy. All these little things tying together, the realization that the louche Thorne introduced in the second book would turn out to be Cress's prince. I came to realize that Marissa has really been playing an amazing long game with an impeccably plotted series. All these weird little things are tying together in ways I couldn't have imagined. Scarlet left me cold, but coming into this installment, everything in Scarlet was important, I kind of view it now as the second book was just a glut of prologue to get us to this amazing next chapter.

Everything came together. All the characters were important and Marissa balanced them all perfectly so that unlike in Scarlet, I wasn't just wanting waiting for Cinder to reappear, but I was interested in all their fates and how they were able to work as a team to pull of an amazing heist. Plus there's just little gems that you wouldn't get unless you're a dork, like me, and obviously Marissa, are... for example, did you know that in some of the versions of the tale instead of rapunzel the father gets rampion from the witch's garden? Which happens to be the make of Thorne's ship! Ok, I have to stop my giddy gushing. I was just so pleasantly surprised that now I don't know how I shall be able to wait till the final volume comes out next year. The hint we had of the Princess Winter, like a crazy Cheshire Cat/Alice/Snow White mash up... now please.


I didn't like Scarlet at all and was pondering whether to stop reading this series or not, but after your stellar review I decided to give it another chance! :D

I rarely, if ever, give up on a series, but coming back THIS STRONG after Scarlet made me really happy. Plus with Winter on the way, AND the prequel book about Levana! I'm one happy reader.

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