Cinder, by Marissa Meyer

Feiwel & Friends

Release date: February 4th 2014
Pages: 550
ISBN: 0312642970


Rapunzel’s tower is a satellite. She can’t let down her hair—or her guard. 

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

Their best hope lies with Cress, who has been trapped on a satellite since childhood with only 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 goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing stop her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only ones who can.


First and foremost, if you have not read Cinder and Scarlet, the previous books in the Chronicles, do not proceed. There may be minor spoilers for those two books in here. Instead, get the books and read them, then you can come back to read this review. If you have read those two but not Cress, do not worry, you're safe.

Now, if you happen to have been following my reviews you might have noticed there was none of book two, Scarlet. To put it simply, it was because I was disappointed with the book. The romance was not to my taste and Scarlet and Wolf did not grow on me even half as much as Cinder and Kai did. While I am still not fully convinced of my full appreciation for those two, Cress helped me like them a little bit more.

And now that the elephant in the room has been addressed, let us move forward towards the beauty that is Cress.

In the third instalment of the Chronicles, we are introduced to the character of Cress, a girl locked alone, out of reach, in a satellite, and whose only visitor is a woman who claims to have saved and raised her. Sounds familiar? It should. This young woman is Meyer's Rapunzel. But unlike the Disney version, she is not armed with a frying pan but with formidable hacking abilities; and her captor is not the witch of Grimms' story, but Queen Levana's chief thaumaturge, Sybil. And why would she keep her? Only to coerce Cress to spy on Earth and conceal Luna's movements for an easier and quicker conquest of the blue planet. 

Having witnessed the bloodshed presented in Paris and many other cities, Cress can bear it no longer. She must take a stand. She contacts the Rampion, the current home of Cinder, Thorne, Scarlet, Wolf, and Iko, and... well, the rest is for you to read. Believe me when I say that it will not be what you expect it to.

There are twists and counter twists, and every time you think you have a moment to breathe, Meyer pushes you back down the roller coaster. And you know what? It's not a bad thing. No other pacing could have worked. Despite its rapidity, there is still plenty of space for character development. The Cinder we met in book one, for example, is so very different from the one we find at the beginning and at the ending of this book. As are all characters. Though they are still "being molded", the feeling of them has not changed. Just like with any normal person. Even Cress, who only showed up now goes through overwhelming changes in the course of this story without losing her essence.

Oh, and do let me linger on Cress a little. This is a girl whose only company has been a villain, her computers and the access to net dramas. All her life is lived inside her own head and in the stories she finds. All her expectations of Earth, of humanity are those of a child who has never encountered a violent adult. She is innocent, she is romantic, she is blind to the harsh reality of Earth, and she is fantastic. There are plenty of authors who turn naive and heart-eyed characters into a walking cliché that makes me want to groan and hit my head repeatedly on the table. But not Meyer. Not Cress. Cress, and her interaction with Thorne (with whom she is head over heels even before meeting him the same way fangirls adore that good-looking actor they never spoke to) made me giggle, gasp and "aww" in the middle of the street. Literally. And yet, she still grows, she still learns. Because there is so much to her. I will stop my babbling, but before that, let me just say that Cress is a character out of this world. Pun sort of intended.

Coming back to what I was saying before, the pacing does not detract from the feeling of the book. There is still an escalation of feelings hand-in-hand with a beautiful, heart-warming, though sometimes brutal, prose. Every point of view is unique, and not a line or action wasted. Besides, Meyer does not shy away from doing something horrible to a character if that means the story and their own personal development will benefit from it. If you've read the previous books, you know what I'm speaking of.

And, of course, Meyer does not forget to include references and elements of the original fairytale stories. Sometimes, they're in plain sight. Sometimes, they're a pea stacked in a tower of mattresses (or should I say a chip in a sea of cyborgs?). The next and final book in the series, Winter, will have Snow White as the background story. I cannot wait to see if a certain queen will be forced to dance in enchanted shoes until she drops... Having read Cress, I would not be surprised.

There is much more I could say. No, there is much more I want to say, but for the sake of keeping things short and without spoilers, I will stop here. But stars, if you want a fairytale retelling, go for the Lunar Chronicles. You will not be disappointed.

The book in a quote

“I am an explorer,' she whispered, 'setting courageously off into the wild unknown.' It was not a daydream she'd ever had before, but she felt the familiar comfort of her imagination wrapping around her. She was an archeologist, a scientist, a treasure hunter. She was a master of land and sea. 'My life is an adventure.' she said, growing confident as she opened her eyes again. 'I will not be shackled to this satellite anymore.'