When we last left Linh Cinder, the cyborg mechanic who may or may not be the lost Lunar Princess Selene, at the end of Scarlet (the second book in the Lunar Chronicles series), the situation was dire. She had escaped from prison (making the acquaintance of Captain Carswell Thorne in the process), secured a spaceship, The Rampion, and rescued Scarlet Benoit from certain death. On the run and now the most notorious escaped convict on both Earth and Luna, she and her small band of allies must come up with a way to evade capture and prevent the Lunar Queen Levana from marrying Emperor Kai of the Eastern Commonwealth and spreading her reign of terror from the moon to the Earth.
What Cinder and her compatriots don’t know is that they’re being helped in ways they can’t even imagine. Cress, a young lunar “shell” (a lunar without the typical mind control abilities) who has been locked alone in a satellite in Earth’s orbit for years, has been blocking both Terran and Lunar security and surveillance systems from seeing The Rampion. She has also been waiting to hear from Cinder (with whom she spoke briefly just before the ball for Queen Levana in the Eastern Commonwealth). Alone in her satellite, Cress has researched and hacked into every file she can find about Linh Cinder, Captain Thorne (he’s DREAMY!!) and Scarlet Benoit, revelling in their exploits. And she’s convinced that, if given a chance, she might be able to do something really helpful and then maybe, just maybe, Captain Thorne would rescue her. . .
In Cress, Marissa Meyer continues The Lunar Chronicles with a retelling of Rapunzel, adding the title character into the growing group of fairy tale-based heroes introduced in Cinder and Scarlet. In Cress, the political intrigue deepens regarding Princess Selene. Letumosis, the deadly plague ravaging the Earth, becomes an even bigger threat than previously imagined. And the stakes are raised as Queen Levana plots to become the ruler of both the moon and the Earth.
Meyer’s characters continue to be well drawn, and the narrative is riveting. Equally impressive is that Meyer is allowing the characters to change and grow with each installment of the series. There are consequences to the choices they make and the actions they take--the "right" choices for some of the options presented are not clear. And it is fascinating to watch the characters develop and adapt to the changing circumstances within which they find themselves. But, since these books are re-tellings of classic fairy tales, there also seems to be a good chance that at least one of the main characters will live to see a “happy ending.”
Meyer has done a marvelous job creating a vision of the future that is believable and enjoyable while also being dark and terrifying. While The Lunar Chronicles is being published as a YA series, it is really a 21st-century version of the grand space operas of classic science fiction, and a marvelous read for anyone who enjoys this sub-genre.
Cress is the third book in the Lunar Chronicles. Everything in the series is building to a climatic showdown between Cinder and Queen Lavana. The fourth and final book, Winter, is due to be released in early 2015.
Daryl Maxwell, reference librarian (and science fiction maven!)