My rating: 5 of 5 stars
And my obsession with The Lunar Chronicles continues.
About halfway through Cress, I realized it would be my favorite of the series. Having come out on the other side of Winter, I can definitively say that initial impression is correct.
Cress is a lovely, edgy sci-fi version of the classic Rapunzel. Taken from her parents at birth due to her lack of the Lunar gift, Cress was eventually enslaved by Levana’s head thaumaturge Sybil Mira and forced into cyber espionage against the Earthen Union. She’s spent seven years on a satellite completely, totally alone. As in, aside from Sybil’s occasional check-ins, she has no contact with anyone. Ever. When we meet her at the beginning of the story, she’s actually having a lively conversation with Little Sister, a computer program she created at the age of ten to keep her company.
Enter Cinder and the gang. Through a direct communication chip link, they manage to message Cress. Finally, her wildest dreams are coming true–she’s going to be rescued. She’s going to be around people other than her dreaded captor. And by none other than Carswell Thorne, the dashing convicted felon/fugitive who’s been aiding Cinder on her quest. Have we mentioned that Cress has done some serious net stalking and developed a
mild crush serious obsession. But the rescue attempt couldn’t possibly go more wrong, and suddenly Cress and Thorne are stranded in the middle of nowhere in a pretty hopeless situation.
On its face, the story is that of the classic damsel in distress. In fact, I’m almost 99% sure that Cress actually uses that phrase more than once to describe herself. The brilliance here is that Meyer, in her typical style, twists the trope to make it more meaningful and original.
For one thing, Cress might be in distress, but she sure isn’t helpless. Her skills with computers and complicated problem-solving border on the genius, and there are several times in the series that everything would have been lost without her expertise. Even during her journey with Thorne, she has to become the de facto leader while he is incapacitated. She’s more than capable of taking care of herself, and yet she longs for Thorne to step up and take care of her, anyway.
Thorne’s development in this installment is quite possibly one of my favorite things about this series as a whole. I mentioned in my review of Scarlet that I delight in inherently evil creatures who desperately want to overcome their own nature. My delight in carefree cads slowly becoming thoughtful, considerate, compassionate men is equally fervent. We see Thorne transform from a caricature of the philandering criminal to a selfless, caring person. His character deepens and enriches. Honestly, my heart aches just thinking about how far he’s come.
(Yes, I know he’s fictional. And that is relevant how?)
On to the less gooey parts of the story. Meyer does a wonderful job conveying the horror of Levana’s kingdom and the seriousness of their predicament without being overly gross or gory. There are definitely some disturbing things that happen here, but nothing that make it inappropriate for the intended YA audience.
If you’re reading this review but you haven’t finished Winter–what are you waiting for?? Chop chop, little onion.