1:00 pm EDT, February 3, 2014

‘Cress’ book review: ‘Rapunzel”s new story is anything but a let-down

Cress by Marissa Meyer, the third installment in The Lunar Chronicles series, takes the futuristic fairytale to a heart-pounding and poignant new level.

Cress by Marissa Meyer Hypable book review

Marissa Meyer has tackled the tales of Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood in the first two books of The Lunar Chronicles, and in Cress, it’s Rapunzel’s turn for reinvention. A young Lunar hacker without her people’s gift for casting glamours, Cress (short for Crescent) has spent the last seven years imprisoned in a satellite orbiting Earth. When her path brings Cress in contact with the Earthen fugitive Cinder – hiding from the Lunar queen Levana in a spaceship along with new partners-in-crime Scarlet, Wolf, and Carswell Thorne – Cress sees the chance to gain freedom from her prison, and from Lunar tyranny.

But when the plan goes terribly awry, Cress learns Earth is not the storybook setting she expected. And if she can’t reunite with Cinder and the Earthen resistance, the entire planet may soon be just like Cress – trapped in servitude to the terrifying queen of the moon.

Review: ‘Cress’ by Marissa Meyer

As the third installment in Marissa Meyer’s cyber-fairytale quartet The Lunar Chronicles, Cress arrives with a spaceship-sized burden on its theoretical shoulders. Not only does the novel need to introduce the third reimagined “princess” into a packed story of cyborgs, wolf-human hybrids and a mysterious plague, but Cress also needs to continue to develop the established heroines, Cinder and Scarlet, along with their male companions.

Thankfully, the novel proves itself to be more than equal to the task. Cress is fluid and fast-paced, a wonderfully engrossing return to the intricately futuristic world of The Lunar Chronicles. Meyer juggles her myriad of plot lines with incredible dexterity. The story shifts easily between scenes of danger, romance, and politics, while the pace rarely stalls and eventually picks up steam with each new chapter.

Meyer also succeeds at folding Cress herself almost seamlessly into the existing story. Timid and dreamy at first, this satellite-dwelling version of Rapunzel grows into a vivid and surprisingly strong protagonist who fills a worthy place among her fellow heroines Cinder and Scarlet. Cress’s growth also facilitates a compelling arc for her accidental companion Carswell Thorne, as the brash captain finds more than he bargained for in the unwitting role of Cress’s “Prince Charming.”

The true mark of Cress‘s success, though, is the continued development of Cinder. The secret cyborg princess whose story begins The Lunar Chronicles continues to grow throughout Cress. Forced by her heritage to lead a rebellion against the Lunar queen, Cinder’s struggles and strength continue to ground her as the emotional center of the series, and her development continues to serve as an axle to drive the rest of the plot forward.

A compelling and thoroughly enjoyable third installment in this most unusual fairytale retelling, Cress will leave readers both satisfied, and desperate to read the conclusion of The Lunar Chronicles.

Cress by Marissa Meyer will be available on Feb. 4 at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or your local independent bookstore!

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