Review: Cress by Marissa Meyer

cress by marissa meyerFormat read: print book borrowed from the Library
Formats available: hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genre: young adult science fiction
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #3
Length: 550 pages
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Date Released: February 4, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

In this third book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who’s only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.

My Review:

The Lunar Chronicles are marvelous and suspenseful fractured fairy tales; taking the stories that we all know and love and transporting them into a brave new future with considerably altered versions of the heroines (and heroes).

Scarlet by Marissa MeyerCinder was, of course, all about Cinderella, complete with wicked stepmother and footwear difficulties. Scarlet’s version of Little Red Riding Hoodie was considerably more kick-ass than the original (see review). But Cress takes Rapunzel to new heights–her tower is a satellite orbiting the Earth! She’s so lonely that she programmed a younger version of herself into her computer systems as a companion.

Cress’ purpose on that satellite is both deadly and heartbreaking. It’s Cress’ programming skills that keep the Earthen governments from detecting Lunar ships in orbit. It’s Cress’ hacking skills that let her read the camera feeds from surveillance on all the Earthen officials.

And it’s Cress who was so desperate for approval from her keeper that she allowed the infiltration of Earth by Lunar special operatives who murdered 16,000 people, all to show that the Lunars were unstoppable.

But Cress has been left alone for much too long with only the entertainment and news feeds from Earth to keep her amused, or perhaps that to help her keep her hold on her sanity. She has come to identify with the Earthens, and to see Linh Cinder and her crew of misfits as the only hope for preventing Lunar Queen Levana’s terrifying reign.

And she’s fallen in love with the daring Captain involved in Cinder’s rescue, even though Cress and Carswell Thorne have never met. So Cress uses her programming skills to contact Cinder, to aid and abet Cinder’s continued evasion of the security forces, and to arrange for her own, much needed, rescue.

The rescue turns into a SNAFU of epic proportions. Cress’ evil keeper swoops in at the last moment, and everything goes to hell in a handcart. When the dust settles, Thorne and Cress are left on Cress’ satellite in a dying orbit, Wolf is seriously wounded, and Scarlet is captured. Only Cinder remains relatively unscathed, but it becomes her energy-sapping task to keep Wolf from going on a killing rampage at the loss of his alpha Scarlet.

Cinder still has to stop the wedding of Queen Levana to the unwilling Emperor Kai before she is crowned Empress, while the security forces of every Earthen military and all of Luna are out to find her.

First she rescues Thorne and Cress, then she musters all her available allies for one last chance to save the Emperor, knowing that she will start a war. Leaving Scarlet in the clutches of the Lunars to face a fate that might be much, much worse than death.
As the clock ticks down to doomsday, Cinder takes up the mantle of leadership that she was born to wear.

cinder by marissa meyerEscape Rating B+: While this is Cress’ story, the arc of The Lunar Chronicles series means that it is always Cinder’s story, no matter what else is going on. Cinder has grown a lot from the young, scared, insecure cyborg mechanic we met in Cinder (reviewed here).

It feels important that Cinder is planning to rescue her prince, and not the other way around. This is a story where the females don’t just have agency, but are generally stronger than the males. Cinder rescues Kai, Scarlet is Wolf’s alpha, and Cress, in spite of her awkwardness, is a gutsier person than Thorne.

Not many people would have kept any semblance of sanity under the conditions that were forced on Cress. She managed to keep herself together, and shake off the Stockholm Syndrome of bonding with her jailor and only contact. Her social awkwardness can be overcome, but integrity is forever.

As the story is told, the perspective frequently jumps from one part of the scattered crew to another, from Cinder to Cress to Scarlet and back again. The narrative switches can feel a bit disruptive during the sections where they are all far apart. As the action coalesces into the final plan, the fast changes add to the breathlessness of anticipation.

Poor Scarlet’s fate is still up in the air (or on Luna) but we know where the rest of the crew of leading, even if we have no idea how they’ll make it. We’re left on pins and needles waiting for the final installment, Winter.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Scarlet by Marissa MeyerFormat read: print book borrowed from the Library
Formats available: ebook, hardcover, paperback, audiobook
Genre: Young adult science fiction
Series: The Lunar Chronicles, #2
Length: 464 pages
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Date Released: February 5, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison–even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

My Review:

Scarlet could be called the cybernetic fairy tales, part two. This is the second book in Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles, so if you haven’t read book one, her dystopian re-telling of Cinderella (Cinder, reviewed here), stop now. Book two is Red Riding-Hood’s turn. In this futuristic turn, make that hood a red hoodie.

Everything else has been transmuted as well. Red’s–oops, I meant Scarlet’s–beloved grandmother has not, well not exactly, been eaten by a wolf. When the story starts, Scarlet Benoit’s beloved grand-mere has disappeared. The officials are calling it a voluntary disappearance. After all, everyone knew that Michelle Benoit was crazy.

Except her granddaughter, who just wouldn’t let it go. And that’s where the story begins. Scarlet, refusing to believe that her grandmother just left her behind, blows her red-headed temper up while delivering vegetables from their farm to a customer. Being discovered by a day-laborer, and night-time bare-knuckles fighter named, of course, Wolf, who has never eaten a fresh tomato before.

Scarlet spends most of the story trying to figure out whether big, powerful Wolf is one of the good guys or one of the bad guys who has been trying to fool her all along. And she’s right to be suspicious. Because Wolf isn’t any too sure himself.

But all the while that Scarlet and Wolf are hunting for Scarlet’s grandmother, Cinder is on the run trying to find that very same Michelle Benoit. Because Cinder has discovered that Michelle Benoit, once upon a time, was one of the Earth officers that may have been part of saving her from Lunar when she was a baby. And part of her adoption by Garan Linh so many years later.

Meanwhile, Queen Levana is hunting all of them. And Emperor Kai’s time, and the Earth’s, is running out.

Escape Rating B+: The three stories are interwoven so tightly that the reading flows from one to another seamlessly, even before Cinder and Scarlet inevitably meet.

Cinder by Marissa MeyerCinder spends a lot of the story hoping that there is a way out. She wants to be free, but she’s smart enough to know that being Queen or even leading a Rebel Alliance is about as far from freedom as a person, or cyborg, can get.

Scarlet and Wolf’s love story hinges on a concept that has been used before in paranormal romance, the idea that cross-breeding with wolf genetics will accidentally build in the conditioning that wolves mate for life. Just because it’s been used before doesn’t mean it can’t be used effectively again or that it wasn’t effective here.

I have a question about Queen Levana. A big question. Why is she doing all this? Why go through all these machinations to take over the Earth? She seems to have more than enough power and military might, as well as magical charisma to just charm everyone into submission. There’s something I’m simply not seeing about her motives. And she’s just too bwahaha evil to make sense.

As very fractured fairy tales, The Lunar Chronicles are great fun. But there are, as they say, wheels within wheels within wheels. I hope that Queen Levana’s deeper motives are in one of those wheels we haven’t seen yet.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Wrapping up NetGalley January

NetGalley January is a wrap. Well, the thing is, January is over, and since the little snowman in the picture says it was NetGalley January, there you are. That’s it for the month.

Those of us signed up for the 2012 NetGalley Reading Challenge are just going to have to soldier on, chortling with glee at all the lovely egalleys NetGalley will be sending us through the rest of the year. Every month can be NetGalley Month.

But back to the wrap. And I must use plastic wrap, since everyone needs to be able to see what I read.

Two books came out of my NetGalley TBR pile from September and October:






In addition to The Black Stiletto, which was fascinating, I also read the start of a very neat new mystery series, The Dharma Detective. I can’t wait for The Second Rule of Ten.



I also read a couple of Regency Romances from relatively new authors that were both a little different from the usual. It’s always interesting to see authors take the standard tropes and stretch the boundaries just a little bit. Or in the case of A Lady Awakened a “lotta” bit.

I read one YA/Cyberpunk that received a lot of buzz, and from the other posted wrap-ups, it looks like I’m not the only one who read Cinder. This title was highly anticipated. (I was turned down the first time I requested it, so I replied directly to the publisher outlining my specific review qualifications and was okayed on the second go-around).

Banshee Charmer is the start of a great new urban fantasy/paranormal series from a brand-new author. The author is doing a blog tour and the book is getting a lot of very nice attention.



I liked the first book in the Dark Dynasties series, Dark Awakening,  quite a bit, so when the second book, Midnight Reckoning listed on NetGalley, I grabbed it. Definitely fun for paranormal romance fans.



And, as always, I rounded out my reading month with titles from Carina Press. The icing on my reading cake: more urban fantasy and paranormal romance, and my science fiction romance fix for the month.










I posted thirteen reviews this month on NetGalley. I did finish a fourteenth book from NetGalley, The Devil of Jedburgh by Claire Robyns. But because I reviewed it for Book Lovers Inc., I can’t post the review on my site until after the review on BLI goes live, and that’s scheduled for February 9. I also finished The Night is Mine by M.L. Buchman sometime the night of January 31, but I can’t swear whether it was before or after midnight. I know that night was his, I just didn’t keep track of how much of it! So there you have it. My tally for this NetGalley Month. It’s all good for the 2012 NetGalley Reading Challenge. And it was all good reading!


Cinder by Marissa Meyer is a retelling of the Cinderella story with a YA/cyberpunk twist. And it’s a pretty good retelling at that. I just think it would have been a better story if it didn’t try so hard to be sure it stepped on each and every base on its way around the story.

Cinderella is always a second-class citizen. In Meyer’s variation, Cinder is second-class because she is a cyborg. Cyborgs are considered less-than-human by those who have been fortunate enough not to have lived through catastrophic accidents such as the one that cost Cinder her hand and her foot at age 11.

But Cinder does not remember the traumatic accident, or anything about her early life. And the man who might have told her is dead. Linh Garan adopted her and left her in the care of his wife Adra just before his death. Garan was an inventor; he liked to tinker with things. He may have adopted Cinder to tinker with. He might have done something to her internal processes. But no one knows, least of all Cinder.

Adra hates and resents Cinder, while at the same time greedily taking every credit that Cinder earns as a gifted mechanic. Adra is entitled to retain all of Cinder’s earnings, forever. Adra is Cinder’s guardian, and Cinder’s earnings are the only thing keeping the household out of the poorhouse. The household, of course, contains not only the nasty stepmother Adra, but Cinder’s stepsisters, Peony and Pearl.

This Cinderella tale has been transplanted in time and place. We are still on Earth, but it is a future, post-apocalyptic Earth, after a dreadful Fourth World War first devastated, then finally united humanity under an Imperial Commonwealth. Cinder lives in the Eastern Commonwealth capital of New Beijing. The moon was not just settled, but broke away from the Earth pre-WWIV and created its own government. The Lunars have become not just a separate government, but in some ways, a separate race, because they have the capacity to manipulate bio-electric energy to a point that seems like magic. It’s a LOT like the Force in Star Wars, and too many of the Lunars mostly act like the Sith. The Lunar Queen and Emperor Palpatine would probably have a lot in common, if they didn’t try to kill each other on sight.

Prince Kai brings his personal android to Cinder at her stall in the market to repair. He says it’s because it was his teaching android when he was growing up, and he’s emotionally attached to it.

Cinder, who shouldn’t have the neural circuitry to swoon, practically swoons over Prince Kai. She is able to suppress her reaction. What she isn’t able to suppress is her knowledge that he is lying. There is something important about the little android, and it isn’t merely an emotional attachment.

Kai lets something slip, he is doing research on leutmosis, the deadly plague that is sweeping the world. It is 100% fatal. Cinder wonders if his android contains some of his research.

The research that Kai might or might not be conducting becomes even more important to Cinder when her stepsister Peony contracts the deadly plague. Peony was the only person who truly cared for Cinder, and now she is gone. And in her rage, Adra signs Cinder over the government as a test subject. Cinder, as a cyborg, has no rights at all.

Once Cinder is tested, the truth of her origins begins to be revealed, not to Cinder, but to others who have been searching for her desperately. Nothing in her life has been as it has seemed.

But Cinder is going to the ball.

Escape Rating B-: The cover of this book is awesome. The book has its moments but I figured out the big reveal very, very early on. It’s better if the surprise remains a surprise as long as possible. Instead, everything was telegraphed miles ahead of time.

I loved the scene where Cinder drives to the ball and shows up in all her grease-stained glory to try to rescue Kai, but I saw it coming miles away.

And, as many other reviewers have noted, what does Kai look like? He’s never described. Ever. There’s a rule somewhere that all brides are, by definition, beautiful. Is there a corollary that all princes are handsome? Therefore there’s no requirement that they be described? Is he blond? Does he have black hair? Brown eyes? Blue eyes? Swoon-worthy is just not a sufficient description.

And I still want to find out what happens next. I want to see that Lunar Queen get what she deserves. Ring-side seats for that show would be very nice indeed.