I don’t know if I liked Cinder or Cress (the book) better… I definitely like Cress and Thorne second best (next to Cinder and Kai) of the couples in the Lunar Chronicles, though!
Cress is the only one of the four female heroines in the series whose name doesn’t seem to directly relate to her fairytale counterpart. You can tell by the cover that she is Rapunzel, but she is Lunar, and therefore named for the moon (Crescent Moon). But she’s a shell, which means she was born without the ability to glamour others. Queen Levana supposedly condemned all shells to death, so far as the country of Luna knows, because shells are also immune to the glamours of others, and therefore cannot be controlled. But really, Levana sends the shells underground, where she experimented on their blood in order to create the Letumosis plague (and develop the subsequent vaccine.) Cress, meanwhile, turns out to be a tech genius, so she was banished to a satellite (her “tower”) where she works under Head Thaumaturge Cybil (her “mother”) for the Queen. Because she’s been alone almost her whole life, she has developed a very active imagination, which is one of my favorite things about her… sweet Cress is always fantasizing her way out of every tight spot, imagining that she is a famous actress, an opera singer, or a spy. Whatever happens to suit the situation.
She also has developed a raging crush from afar on Carswell Thorne, Cinder’s arrogant but gorgeous partner-in-crime… only in Cress’s idealistic mind, Thorne is really a misunderstood hero. When Cybil sends her satellite crashing to earth in attempted murder, Thorne and Cress find themselves stranded in the African desert together–and Thorne, struck with blindness on impact, finds himself at Cress’s mercy. It’s a clever way to induce a character arc for Thorne, and it really turns out to be quite believable (at least in the whimsical world of the Lunar Chronicles, where there’s already a high suspension of disbelief).
But aside from the fact that I find Cress herself so endearing, and Thorne becomes endearing through her eyes, I think I liked this book so much largely because it’s also the book where Cinder stops the royal wedding (in SUCH a badass-yet-bashful way–I cheered out loud the first time I heard it!), and reveals her true identity to Emperor Kai. We’ve been waiting for that moment for three books now! So satisfying!!!
My rating: *****