I was very eager to read Cress, the sequel to Cinder and Scarlet, and it didn’t disappoint. You definitely need to read the series in order or you won’t have any idea who anyone is. Like the others, a new fairy tale is wound into the story in innovative ways.
In this book, it’s the story of Rapunzel. Cress’ tower is a satellite where the wicked witch (one of Queen Levana’s thaumaturges) has kept her isolated for seven years. There’s a little bit of “The Lady of Shalott” as she keeps tabs on the world around her through the window of newsfeeds. She falls in love with Thorne—the pilot Cinder is travelling with—even though she’s never met him. She has a romanticized idea of him as her prince who will come and rescue her.
There are so many little bread crumbs for fans of fairy tales, without ever getting in the way of the original story that’s being told. (The ship they travel on is a Rampion. Cress sings beautifully.) If you liked the first two books, you won’t be disappointed by Cress.
SPOILER ALERT: Things you might want to know before suggesting this to your kid
Violence – physical and mental
The book opens with a reminder of the massacre that happened near the end of Scarlet and some of the details are a bit graphic. There are several fights, and Wolf is injured very badly. Thorne hits his head when Cress’ satellite tumbles from the sky, and he spends most of the book blind. Iko gets a new body which is damaged significantly. Another massacre happens at the end as the war really gets going and, although there isn’t much detail, many of those killed are characters we met briefly.
Scarlet is captured and ends up on Luna, where she’s an Earthen all too easily controlled by the Lunars. She’s given to a spoiled young Lunar boy who practices his mind control skills on her in awful ways, like making her believe insects are crawling into her ears until she bashes her head, trying to dislodge them. When the queen questions her and Scarlet is less than forthcoming, the queen makes Scarlet cut off her pinky with a hatchet. This scene isn’t very graphic.
We don’t see a lot of what happens to Scarlet, but Wolf is utterly distraught that she’s on Luna. He knows what they’ll do to her, and he almost wishes she were dead instead. Imagining why he feels that way is almost worse for the reader than seeing what she’s going through.
Cinder is getting better at mind control. She’s not comfortable with it, but also finds it all too easy to use. She mentally attacks one of the thaurmaturges and kills her. She saves Wolf when she mind controls him, but he’s still not happy about it—no one should be able to do that to another person.
The plague is starting to mutate so that Lunars are affected by it. The doctor who discovered Cinder’s identity ends up dying from the plague. He also learns that the plague was created by the Lunars as part of a long term plan to take over the Earth.
These are fairy tales. Every heroine has a corresponding hero. But the plot is much bigger than seeing the pairs get together. Scarlet and Wolf are trying to figure out their relationship, and she remembers the night she spent in his arms. There was definitely kissing, but it’s not clear if anything else happened. Wolf is waiting for her to take the next step. After Scarlet is captured, Wolf’s devotion to her is clear.
Cress is in love with the idea of Thorne, but the reality isn’t quite the same. However, through their adventures together, they start to fall in love—not that either of them will admit it yet. He gives her a passionate kiss when a battle seems hopeless because he had promised her that he wouldn’t let her die without ever being kissed. Thorne in love is a more interesting character as he tries to disillusion Cress without hurting her and he ends up wanting to be more like the person she imagines him to be.
Cinder and Kai finally end up in the same place at the end of this book—it’s good to see them back together.
The Lunars like to keep Earthens as pets—their minds are so easily controlled. The Earthens tend to mistrust all Lunars. The Earthens passed laws making cyborgs lesser, to the point of allowing them to be owned by others. Kai takes steps to do away with some of these injustices. He doesn’t seem to be bothered that Cinder is a cyborg.
You need to read Cinder and Scarlet before you read Cress. If you like those, you’ll probably like this. If those are appropriate for your child, there’s no reason this one won’t be. I love seeing the story come together and I can hardly wait for the last book in the series!
Cress by Marissa Meyer
Published in 2014 by Feiwel and Friends
Third in The Lunar Chronicles
Read my personal copy