Book Review: Cress by Marissa Meyer

Title: Cress (Lunar Chronicles #3)
Author: Marissa Meyer
YA/sci-fi/fairytale retelling
Date Read: 25/03/2015 – 31/03/2015
Rating: ★★★★


cresscoverI’m going to just come out and say it: this is by far the best book of the Lunar Chronicles so far. It is a retelling of Rapunzel, focusing on the character of Cress (short for Crescent Moon), a Lunar shell who was imprisoned on a satellite at the age of ten, and has since then been the resident hacker for Queen Levana and her thaumaturges. When a rescue attempt from Cinder and co. goes wrong, Cress and Carswell Thorne find themselves plummeting towards Earth in a powerless satellite. They survive, but this is not the end of their adventures, and tension is ramping up for the rest of the main characters as well.

In book two, Thorne was incredibly annoying. I couldn’t stand him. I already knew that a) he was the love interest in book 3 and b) that people were saying this was the best book so far, so I was sincerely hoping that he improved. Fortunately, this was the case. I was far more invested in his and Cress’ romance than I had been in either Cinder and Kai or Scarlet and Wolf’s. One of my colleagues even caught me grinning stupidly to myself because I’d been reading on my lunch break and it had left me in a really good mood.

While I continue to be impressed with how well Marissa Meyer has woven the different fairytales together, and the hints for future books in the earlier ones and all that sort of thing, the problem that is starting to emerge with this series is that it is developing quite an ensemble cast. This is not necessarily a problem, but with so many characters in so many places, it made for a fairly long book, and book four is supposedly another 250 pages longer again (going by GoodReads’ estimate). There were times when the plot did start to drag a bit, where it seemed that we just cutting to another character for the sake of checking in with them, rather than anything really relevant. When there are so many characters, it’s hard to have equal investment in all of them, and I was sometimes just waiting to get back to the characters I really cared about.

The next installment in this series isn’t out until November, so unless I want to read Fairest (Queen Levana’s backstory)or some of the short stories, this will be it for a while. While I have been enjoying it, I think I am happy to wait until then, though. I’ve been discovering lots of other fairytale retellings to tide me over.

Book Review: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Title: Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles #2)
Author: Marissa Meyer
YA/sci-fi/fairytale retelling
Date Read: 03/03/2015 – 06/03/2015
Rating: ★★★


scarletcoverI actually had a couple of people tell me when I finished Cinder that I could probably just skip Scarlet and go straight on to Cress, the third book in the Lunar Chronicles, as Scarlet doesn’t really add a huge amount to the overall story. This was pretty true, but I have to admit thatI am finding this series pretty damn entertaining and I am still glad I read the second installment.

In book two, we meet Scarlet Benoit, a small-town French girl whose grandmother has gone missing. Between meeting a street-fighter called Wolf, who seems to know where her grandmother is, and fugitive Linh Cinder landing a space ship in her garden, Scarlet’s life takes a turn for the dramatic. She ends up in Paris as a prisoner of a Lunar thaumaturge and the wolf-Lunar hybrids created by Queen Levana to make her first attack on Earth.

Meanwhile, Cinder has escaped prison with the aide of a very annoying man called Carswell Thorne, and is beginning to learn more about her true identity. Back in New Beijing, Prince Kai still has Cinder on his mind as he continues to try to prevent a war with Lunar.

As I said, there isn’t a whole lot in this book that really contributes to the plot, apart from some more in-depth character development and their pasts. The only real action comes towards the end, though there is enough tension building up to that to keep the reader interested. I liked Scarlet as a character, though I found Wolf quite contradictory. It seemed the author was going for “tough but sensitive” but even when the reasons for his sensitivities were explained later, I still couldn’t really reconcile them with “hardened fighter”.

Having said all that, Marissa Meyer does have a very readable writing style, so in spite of everything, I was still able to knock the book over in a few days. I’ve now also read Cress, and the review for that will be up next fortnight. 🙂

Book Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Title: Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1)
Marissa Meyer
Date Read: 18/02/2015 – 24/02/2015
Rating: ★★★


Cinder_CoverAccording to GoodReads, this book was on my TBR shelf for almost exactly three years. A friend of mine started reading it and that made me think I really should get around to it myself. After all, I love fairytale retellings and who could resist cyborg Cinderella, right?

For a start, I think I maybe made the mistake of beginning this book in the wrong mindset. The book I had read immediately before this one was quite a mature, dark urban fantasy/horror novel, and maybe plunging into YA sci-fi immediately wasn’t the greatest idea. While it was very readable (I knocked it over in a couple of afternoons), it’s also quite predictable. I had worked out who certain characters were (but didn’t know they were) by about chapter three. I also didn’t feel any particular investment in any of the characters. They all had pretty awful things happening to them, and I certainly sympathised, but I didn’t feel any real investment in them.

This improved in the last quarter. The stakes got higher, characters confronted each other, and there was finally a bit of action. I actually think Queen Levana, the villain, is one of the best-crafted characters in the book, and seeing her finally interact with Cinder as well as Prince Kai, was really good.

The world-building is interesting, though I always felt it was a bit superficial. I wanted to know more about cyborg technology, about the robots they use, about New Beijing… I have read reviews written by people who know more about Chinese culture than I do, and they have also pointed out that as an Asian civilisation, New Beijing and by extension, the Eastern Commonwealth, do not ring true. I had a gut feeling as I was reading that this was the case.

Cinder and Prince Kai are pretty stock-standard YA leads. I don’t really have much to say about them, other than it is exciting to meet a female YA lead who is a mechanic by trade. We need more of that! I am going to read the next book in the series; while it is based on Red Riding Hood and I don’t generally enjoy adaptations of that story, the following two books in the series are based on Rapunzel and Snow White respectively, and I’m pretty keen on that, as neither of those are stories that get retold very often.

I can totally see why this book is so popular with the YA crowd, and I am hoping I will enjoy the subsequent books. Now that a lot of the world-building is out of the way, that allows the rest of the series room for more story, and I hope that’s what I get.