Monday, April 18, 2016

Cress by Marissa Meyer | Book Review

Out of the three (almost four) books in Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles that I have read so far, Cress is definitely my favorite. While there was still some violence, this story took a more lighthearted turn than its predecessor. Cress is based off of the classic fairytale Rapunzel by the brothers Grimm but in many ways it seems Meyer based Cress off of Disney’s interpretation of Rapunzel, i.e. the movie Tangled. Cress is a cheerful, upbeat character and her whimsical outlook on life colors the entire book. Her love-interest, Captain Carswell Thorne, is similarly a lot more humorous and happy-go-lucky if not somewhat careless and reckless at times. He reminds me a lot of Flynn Rider than he does the curious, wayward prince from the brothers Grimm’s tale. I actually appreciate Cress and Thorne’s love story because it’s kind of nonexistent in this book. Cress has an enormous crush on Thorne from the moment she first meets him, but instead of the insta-love formula between Scarlett and Wolf, Thorne and Cress’ relationship takes a much steadier, more realistic pace.

Born an ungifted Lunar "shell" Cress has been locked away in a satellite for the last seven years where she utilizes her incredible talent for hacking to conceal Lunar ships from Earth's detection. As she orbits the earth for years on end, hacking into their networks, watching their soap operas, and familiarizing herself with the various cultures and histories of the humans of Earth, Cress begins to gradually sympathize with their plight, specifically the plight of the cyborg Cinder and her entourage. In the first book Cinder Cress assisted Cinder by tipping her off on Levana's evil plan, but Cress is compromised when Levana demands her to help track down Cinder and the infamous Rampion space ship belonging to the renegade American Republic cadet "Captain" Carswell Thorne. Cress sends out a cry for help and Cinder and her crew attempt to rescue her from her isolated satellite. However, the group is separated when their rescue mission goes awry. In the meantime, Cinder is struggling to find a way to break up Levana's impending marriage to Emperor Kai before their time runs out.

Cress has a massive crush on Thorne from the moment she meets him. Sure, he’s a military cadet from the American Republic turned rogue and sure he has a reputation as a thief, conman, gambler, you name it, but Cress, being her endearing naïve self, convinces herself that Thorne is the honorable kind of criminal. After all, he always had such noble excuses for all the crimes he committed! In actuality, Thorne was lying through his teeth and there was nothing honorable about any of his crimes. The only selfless choices he has made are the ones involving aiding and protecting Cinder. Cress’ hopes and dreams are crushed but she still holds out hope that Thorne is not past redemption and that he will sooner rather than later prove to be the good, heroic man she believes he is.
[Thorne:]"I promise I will not let you die without being kissed." --Marissa Meyer, Cress 
[Spoiler Alert!] Most of my favorite scenes are from when Thorne and Cress are stranded in the desert, Thorne's blind, and Cress is near hysterics because she's been trapped in a satellite for seven years and this is the first time she's set foot on solid ground since she was twelve and the first time she's ever been on earth and now she's going to die in a desert without ever even been kissed. I love it when she starts crying and she thinks Thorne's going to give her a comforting embrace, but instead he shakes her and says, "Stop it! Stop crying!" Tears dehydrate, don't you know? 

And then she confesses her "love" for Thorne to him and he just shakes his head and says, "I'm like, what? The second guy you've ever even talked to?"  

Meyer reveals a different side of Thorne in this book, a Thorne who isn’t as cocky and self-assured as he usually is. He had to be serious, capable, but also pretty pathetic for a lot of the book. Apart from Thorne and Cress, I was not very happy with the rest of the character development. Kai and Cinder’s reunion at the end felt so forced and unnatural given how long their separation was and the fact that previously they had only known each other for like what? A few days? Wolf was kind of pathetic the entire book what with [spoiler alert!] Scarlet kidnapped. Meyer briefly introduces the dillusional and semi-insane Princess Winter, the stepdaughter of Queen Levana. The rogue Lunar guard-turned-traitor was also an intriguing plot twist. Both of these characters added a deep element of mystery to the book. Overall, I thought Meyer brought the book to a conclusive and not-altogether miserable ending as well as set up the reader for the next book!
[Cress:] "Maybe there isn't such a thing as fate. Maybe it's just the opportunities we're given, and what we do with them. I'm beginning to think that maybe great, epic romances don't just happen. We have to make them ourselves." --Marissa Meyer, Cress

Finally, while I have so far liked Meyer’s interpretations of the classic fairytales, I was a little disappointed with the way she handled this fairytale. Maybe it’s simply because this kind of novel can’t fit into such a symbolic and tragic fairytale like Rapunzel. I liked this novel, but I did not feel like it did the classic fairytale justice. Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of tragedy in Cress. But the classic fairytale bears such a deep theme of penance and redemption, especially concerning the character of the prince, and I felt like that was kind of lost in this book. Thorne’s blindness did bring out a different side of him, but it lacked the kind of spiritual redemption Rapunzel alludes to. I also thought it was odd that even toward the end of the book he is still blind and he doesn’t really recover until the beginning of the next book.

For those who love fairy-tale retellings, another great retelling of Rapunzel is Regina Doman’s book Rapunzel Letdown. I will warn you that this, unlike Meyer’s novel, is not a very happy or positive story though it is a compelling, deep, and convicting story. Do you enjoy reading fairytale retellings? Have you ever read The Lunar Chronicles? If so, what did you think of Cress? Feel free to leave a comment below or email me at jehovahreigns@gmail.com. Also, in case you haven't already, go like my official Facebook page. I would love to hear your input!

2 comments :

  1. OH MY GOSHHH. Cress and Thorne. They're my ultimate OTP and they make me so happy. <3 Beside the fact that Cress was locked up in a spaceship for most of her life, I can totally relate to her actions and such. I love her. xD

    // katie grace
    a writer’s faith

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    1. Katie Grace, thanks so much for stopping by my blog! I think Cress is definitely the one I relate to the most...usually off in my own little world (in my head) and no, reality rarely measures up to all my fantasies. ;)

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