By Marissa Meyer
Rating: 5 Stars
Incarcerated in a satellite, an expert hacker and out to save the world – Cress isn’t your usual damsel in distress. Cress grew-up as a prisoner. With only net screens for company she’s forced to do the bidding of the evil Queen Levana. Now that means tracking down Cinder and her handsome accomplice Emperor Kai. But little does Levana know that those she seeks, and the man she loves, are plotting her downfall…As paths cross and the price of freedom rises, happily ever after has never seemed further away for Cress, Scarlet and Cinder. This is not the fairy tale you remember. But it’s one you won’t forget…
First off – isn’t that cover beautiful? I’m getting hair envy just looking at it.
Ahem. Anyway, onto the book.
This is the chunkiest of the three books currently available and it certainly packs a lot in. Our group is split up early on in the novel with the unlikely combination of Iko, Cinder and Wolf off to Africa, Cress and Thorne crashlanding in the desert and Scarlet whisked off to Lunar. This is that inevitable point in any series where the group goes it’s separate ways and I never like it very much – I really enjoy big teams with all their interesting dynamics – but I do think it works here.
Cress comes into her own as she steadily starts to learn about the real Earth – not just the one she’s seen on the feeds and in Soaps. It was really interesting to watch her do this and Meyer manages to mix compelling fiction with some intriguing and apt topics with her usual flare. How much of the world are we missing out on by only communicating with it virtually? The countries we know a lot about but only ever see on TV? The people splashed all over our media that we’ve never met? What’s the difference between our perception and the actual reality? That may seem to be going a bit far from the original text but I feel like it’s all there if you’re looking for it. Especially in her relationship with Thorne. I think that’s the best thing about Meyer’s books, she manages to pack so much in – a diverse cast, very relevant world issues – and still hurl us all along after a great plot. Not easy to do at all.
Thorne has to be serious for once in his life and actually handles it really well. His attitude towards his sudden blindness is very interesting and his determination to get them back to civilisation puts a slant on his character that we haven’t previously seen. In Scarlet he felt a bit more comic relief-y and whilst we were aware that there was stuff going on under that veneer of his we didn’t know what. Having more from his point of view as he has to assume responsibility despite being – quite literally – unable to see what the future will hold, really built him up as a character.
I was also really intrigued by the village of Lunar refugees in the heart of Africa and I was glad that we got more of the dubious Dr Erland. Cinder’s continued development of her powers was great and I liked seeing her struggle to deal with the moral issues of what she is able to do. I also really liked that – although she is very much a reluctant heroine – she was still determined to set things right. Not because she wants to be a Princess, not because she wants to be with Kai, but because she wants the world to be safe so that she can live out her life in peace. Honestly, that’s all most people want really. Also, Iko in her newest incarnation is an absolute scream and I hope their will be more of her antics in the next book.
The pace really picks up when the gang – barring Scarlet – gets back together and the infiltration of the palace was really well done. I don’t want to give too much away here, but needless to say, Meyer really hits this high notes in this section and you can see her lining up all her pieces for an epic finale in Winter.
As I said, we don’t see much of Scarlet in this book but what we do see is really good and makes me excited for Winter. Bring on the next one!!!