Cress by Marissa Meyer is the third in the Lunar Chronicles series and is loosely based on the Rapunzel fairytale. It also continues the stories of Cinder and Scarlet, the heroines of the first two novels based on Cinderella and Red Riding Hood respectively.
Cress is quite a different kind of protagonist to Cinder and Scarlet who are both rather feisty and capable. This fits very well with the Rapunzel backstory; like her fairytale counterpart, Cress has spent the majority of her life isolated from human contact and the world in general and when the girls and their guys break her out she is naturally very uncertain and rather naive. One of the themes of the fairytale is leaving parental (over)protection and going out into the world despite all its dangers and this is seen in Cress. Once again Meyer has woven in the main storybeats of the original fairytale – maiden, trapped in a tower, wicked witch, prince blinded – but has given them a very original twist in her retelling.
What I liked
Cress’s characterisation. Despite being less kickass than Cress or Scarlet, Cress still has her strengths more so as she gains in confidence. Certainly, she ends up in situations that her more worldly wise companions might have avoided, but she doesn’t allow her fear to hold her back from doing her part to help her friends. I have the feeling that by book four Cress will be a force to be reckoned with.
Good balance. The novel was perfectly balanced with Cress’s story and the continuation of that of Cinder and Scarlet. Meyer was able to give all the characters plenty of time and space for their development without compromising the pace, which moves along at a good clip.
The androids. I don’t know why, but I have a real soft spot for Iko and in this book Little Cress. I suspect it’s a combination of Meyer’s excellent writing and Rebecca Soler’s fantastic narration – she adds so much life to these non-human characters! I really enjoyed the dynamic between Cress and Little Cress, who is a programmation of a younger version of herself. I was sorry that Little Cress didn’t remain in the story very long, but I can understand why she had to go for Cress’s character development.
The romance between Cress and Thorne. This was beautifully done, moving from Cress’s childlike crush on her distant idol and Thorne’s wry amusement at her feelings for him, learning to know him as a real person, through mutual dependence and finally a clearer understanding of each other’s strengths and faults.
The narration. Once again Rebecca Soler give an amazing performance as narrator for these books. She brings so much life to the characters that it’s a joy to listen to these books. This is one series I definitely prefer to listen to thanks to the narration.
What I didn’t like
There was nothing I didn’t like – Cress was a fantastic continuation of a brilliant series and I can’t wait for Winter!
I gave Cress five stars out of five.