Author: Marissa Meyer
Publication Date: February 2014
Two Sentence Synopsis: Cinder, Thorne, Scarlet, and Wolf are all on the run from Queen Levana. Their best hope comes from a mysterious girl named Cress.
Review: This series continues to impress me with each instalment I read. More characters are introduced, most notably the title character Cress, and never once does the story become confusing. Throughout the series, although written in third-person limited, Meyer does shift viewpoints between Cinder, Kai, Thorne, Scarlet, and now Cress. On the surface it seems a lot to keep track of, but when reading the book, the changing viewpoints don’t cause any trouble with comprehension.
Let’s talk about Cress’ character. This series takes ideas from classic fairy tales and places them in a futuristic setting. Cinder obviously comes from Cinderella. Scarlet is Little Red Riding Hood. And Cress draws inspiration from Rapunzel. How does Meyer translate the lonely but optimistic and hopeless romantic princess locked away in a tower by a witch into her futuristic setting? By putting her in a satellite and having her be able to hack into the Earth’s media and cameras. A secret spy locked away by Queen Levana’s head thaumaturge. As a shell who cannot control bioelectricity or be controlled by other Lunars, Cress’ parents were forced to give her up as an infant. Thaumaturge Sybil told Cress that her parents gladly gave her up when they learned she was a shell. Living in complete isolation — except for the times when thaumaturge Sybil visits to get information on certain people — Cress learns about the Earth and Luna by both spying on important people and by her ability to access every database available, both public and top secret. Knowing Cinder’s true identity, Cress decides to help the fugitives rather than the Lunars. For a young woman who has lived alone in a satellite for nearly half her life, that’s pretty brave.
Cinder’s team launches a mission to rescue their new ally, but, of course, things don’t go completely as planned and not only do they lose Scarlet to thaumaturge Sybil and instead are left with Sybil’s pilot, but Cress’ satellite crashes to the earth with Thorne and Cress still inside.
Assuming that Thorne and Cress are dead and knowing they need a plan before attempting to rescue Scarlet, Cinder, Wolf, and the Lunar hostage Jacin make their way to a small town in Africa where Dr. Erland told Cinder to meet him. Shortly after they arrive, they find that the friends they thought dead managed to survive the satellite crash, though Thorne did lose his eyesight. Together the team makes a plan to kidnap Emperor Kai to stop his marriage to Queen Levana.
There is a lot to unpack in this book, but with the steady pace that the narrative keeps up throughout, it doesn’t feel like it’s too much. The action moves the plot along and although so much is happening, the plot’s momentum doesn’t allow for things to get bogged down. On the other hand, although the action moves fairly quickly and there’s a sense of urgency throughout most of the novel, I never felt overwhelmed or frustrated. Meyer’s writing hits that nice sweet spot of keeping a quick pace that keeps the reader wanting to continue reading while also adding in enough information to give the plot some depth and substance.
I definitely recommend this book and this series.