Jan 26, 2015

Cress: A Book Breakdown

So my friends, we’ve come to the end.

Ok, ok, so maybe it’s not the end. I’ll be doing Fairest next week and one of us will most certainly be bringing you our scattered, over-excited thoughts about Winter sometime in December (November is NaNo, remember? We’ll all be busy writing the next great American novel come then!) but go with me on the end thing for a sec - it sounds dramatic and I kind of dig it :).

[Proceed reading at your own risk - spoilers will be used frequently and carelessly. You have been warned.]

Now because Cress is a long book and because I’m a long winded person even when I’m not talking about my favorite book in one of my favorite series, I’m going to try and keep this post as short and simple as possible (emphasis on the “try” there - don’t judge me too harshly), borrowing the fabulously successful “list” method from my fellow Lunartic, Katheline. Here are just a sampling of the reasons why Cress is such a success:

1. A Fast, Gripping, and Terrifying Inciting Incident
While things aren’t exactly right as rain going into Cress (Kai’s about to marry what might possibly be the biggest and most dangerous lunatic in all the galaxy for crying out loud), they’re pretty good. The characters are safe, at least for the moment, and are able to train and prepare in relative tranquility. Considering what life has been like for these guys recently, I’d say that scenario there is pretty stinking good. But does Meyer leave us with that, allowing us to slip into apathy as we watch our beloved characters sit around and eat canned tomatoes for 150 pages? No. What does she do? Oh, you know, just has a rescue attempt go horribly wrong causing one character to be captured by the enemy, two others to be falling to their deaths in a sabotaged satellite, another to be wounded (perhaps mortally), and the only one left to be stuck staring at the carnage, scrambling to save even one person, and wondering how in the heck it went so wrong.

Remember that little trick I talked about in my first ever blog post? The whole “when in doubt, find out what’s the worst thing that could happen to your character right now, then do it” thing? This is that tip at its finest.

2. Cress
Cress is our title character, so obviously she has to play a large part in this book. We’ve seen her a few times before now, but this is really when she begins to come alive. And alive she is. She’s a wonderfully balanced character - a great mix of shy, naive, talented, and daring. While Cress certainly is the most innocent of all the characters (living in total isolation will do that to you) she is far from dismissible. Throughout the novel she consistently proves herself capable of meeting every challenge thrown at her, not only reacting to the changes but processing them, coming to grips with her own weaknesses, and striving to overcome them. And she’s a complete tech genius. I mean, how awesome is that? Give this girl a computer and there is nothing she can’t do.

3. High Tension/A Great Excuse To Mention My Favorite Scene
One of the most effective aspects of this books is its high tension level. Meyer accomplishes this in a few ways - constant, virtually unrelenting conflict being one of them, and multiple, intriguing plot lines being another. By using eight different narrators (I remember at least eight, please correct me if there are more), most of whom are experiencing different things, Meyer is able to keep the tension at an insanely high level - making her reader have serious anxiety not only about the current plot line, but about the five or six other unresolved ones that are going on at the same time! Most of this comes to a head in what might just be my favorite scene in the book (though I’m quite partial to like a bizallion others as well) - when Cress, Thorne, Dr. Erland, Wolf, and Jacin are all in the same room but, due to like bizallion circumstances, don’t realize that the others aren’t a threat for a good page and a half. I don’t know how y’all were feeling during that scene but I was practically screaming my head off! (YOU CAN’T KILL EACH OTHER!!! YOU’RE FRIENDS!! FRIENDS, YOU HEAR ME?!!) Ok, so maybe I was screaming my head off, no practically required. But still - talk about tension!

4. Thorne and Cress’s Relationship
It's book 3 and we are treated to yet another completely adorable romance. Personally, I think Thorne and Cress are the cutest out of the whole lot. Their relationship, more than any of the other’s, is built on mutual growth. Cress makes Thorne stop and think, forcing him to actually consider his actions and at least become marginally aware of the consequences. Thorne makes Cress come out of her shell, forcing her to experience new things and step up to the plate. And you know what? They both turn out better for it. Cress makes Thorne a kinder, slightly more humble person, someone who is beginning to act as if he wants to improve, to become the sort of person who deserves to be loved. And Thorne makes Cress a stronger person, one who can look at a world (and a man) who is filled with flaws, and love it (and him, especially him) all the more for it.

Now they just have to admit that they love it each other.

Seriously, though. I'm kind of dying on the inside waiting for this.

5. Cinder and Kai’s Relationship/A Great Excuse To Mention My Other Favorite Scene
Finally! That's the primary reaction I have to the Cinder/Kai developments in this book - finally. Meyer has been tantalizing us with this since page one, dangling the carrot of the adorable Cinderella/Prince Charming relationship in front of her anxious readers noses’, prompting us to turn page after page at a breakneck pace, and ultimating propelling us through three full books before we get the scene that we’re looking for. Yep, I’m talking about the last scene of the book, otherwise known as My Favorite Scene in Cress 2.0. It’s been a long time coming but at the end of Cress, book three, we finally see Cinder and Kai, face to face, once again. Of course, a lot has gone on since the last time they saw each other (the two minutes before Cinder knocks him out doesn’t really count in my opinion) and us anxious carrot chasers are treated to a pretty intense scene as Kai struggles to make sense of what’s happening and Cinder goes through a whole host of internal conflict trying to admit her true identity. But then our stubborn little mechanic Princess finally gets it out of her mouth and-

Cue awesomeness.

This was seriously one of the sweetest moments in the entire book. All the way up until this point Cinder has been completely terrified to tell Kai the truth. Why? Well, her experiences with Adri and Pearl didn’t exactly give her a lot of confidence in the “Cyborgs are worthy of love” department and she figured that adding “estranged Lunar Princess” onto that wasn’t going to help matters too much. But does Kai scream? Run for the hills? Absolutely not. He barely even blinks an eye. And once he gets over his initial shock, he thinks its pretty much the best thing on earth (or the moon, or outer space, or whatever). Sure, he’s a little curious and yes, he was a little ticked before (being kidnapped will tend to do that to a person) but all his anger and uncertainty quickly evaporates and we carrot chasers are finally treated to the moment we’ve been waiting three books for.


*cue contented sigh*
6. Wolf and Scarlet’s Relationship
I don't know if you guys are aware of this, but Wolf and Scarlet's relationship appears to be one of the main reasons why several people don't like this series. "What?!" you exclaim. "How could people not like this series! And because of such such an awesome relationship as their's? I don't get it!" Well, my friends, it is, unfortunately, true. Lots of people view Wolf and Scarlet's relationship as rushed, shallow, and based solely off of sexual attraction. And while I certainly understand how they could come to that conclusion (I mean, it did happen pretty quickly), I would like to pose the following question to the aforementioned people: "Have you read Cress yet?!!!".

The relationship that we see in Cress in anything but shallow. One need only look at Wolf's reaction to Scarlet's kidnapping to see a guy who is in this for the long haul. A man who would do absolutely anything to protect the woman he loves. And the fact that, at this moment, he can't is literally eating him alive. I was practically whimpering in my seat to see Wolf so broken up like that.

This is not a shallow relationship, folks. In fact, I'd argue that, in light of the fact that Cinder and Kai only become a thing in the last 20 pages of the book, Cress and Thorne are still in denial when the curtain closes, and we haven't even seen Jacin and Winter together yet, Wolf and Scarlet's relationship is the most committed out of all of them.

Which means they better get back together in Winter. *whimpers*

7. Jacin and the Promise of More to Come
For me, Jacin’s presence is all about setup for book four. Up until this point, Cinder has been focused on earth giving little thought to Luna except for wondering how to stop its psychotic queen from marrying Kai. Jacin’s presence changes this. Jacin is a Lunar and, unlike Cinder (who hasn’t set foot in the country since she was three) or Cress (who spent the last several years stuck in a satellite and the majority of her life before that underground) or even Wolf (who spent most of his life in mutant soldier training camps), Jacin has actually seen how Luna works. He lives there. He’s a palace guard. He’s an active participant in Lunar society. He understands how the country really is  - something that the rest of the group obviously doesn’t. His presence, and his allusions to Lunar society, set the stage for the vast amount of Lunar learning that (I’m seriously hoping) will be in book four.

8. Levana’s POV
Like I mentioned in the section about Jacin, Levana’s POV is a wonderful way to increase tension and suspense, as well as intrigue. We already knew Levana was a nut but after seeing her POV in Cress we’re practically screaming to know more. What is this marriage she speaks off? Who is this mysterious ex-husband? Where did all that thinly veiled and slightly psychotic pain that we’re sensing come from? Does she really think that she’s turned Luna into a paradise? How on earth (or the moon) did this lady get this crazy?!! Before Cress I was mildly curious about Levana but after reading it I’m practically salivating from the need to understand her backstory! Luckily for me, and for you, my lovely readers, Fairest (the prequel all about how Levana became, well, Levana) comes out tomorrow!! Saw it with me now, folks - eeeppp!!

So there you have it, folks. Eight reasons why Cress was completely and utterly awesome. I hope you enjoyed this tour through my favorite of all The Lunar Chronicles and I’ll see you next week when I talk about Fairest (eep!!).

As always, happy reading, writing, and living,


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