Cress by Marissa Meyer
The escaped cyborg, Cinder, and her companions are hiding out so that no one on Earth or Luna can find them. They’re hiding in space in Captain Carswell Thorne’s ship, but know it’s only a matter of time before they’re found.
They don’t know they have an ally who is using her hacking skills to keep them hidden when they otherwise would have been discovered. Cress is a Lunar shell – a Lunar citizen with no mental talents – who is an excellent computer programmer and hacker. When she was nine or ten or so, Mistress Sybil took her from the hidden crèche of unwanted Lunar children and installed her alone on a satellite between the Moon and Earth. Since then Cress has spied on Earth and hidden Lunar ships orbiting the planet. Mistress Sybil keeps Cress alive for her usefulness and is the only person who visits her. Cress hates Luna and longs to go to Earth instead. But she is trapped alone here in space.
Then Cress’ opportunity comes. She and Thorne make contact. She is able to convince the four people and one artificial intelligence on Cinder’s ship she is an ally and to come rescue her. She will devote her hacking skills to them instead. But an unexpected visit from Sybil ruins her plans. The Earth ship loses one member and gain Cress and a Lunar pilot who had been under Sybil’s control. Two members are badly wounded in the fight and following space ship crash. They are separated on Earth, each wondering if the others are dead.
Meanwhile, Cinder has to stop the wedding between Prince Kai and the Lunar Queen Levana. If Levana gains her desire to become empress of Earth, Earth is doomed. Levana will use her mind control powers to take the planet completely. Prince Kai is aware of the danger but is desperate to get the antidote to the plague sweeping across Earth. He has to marry Levana to get that antidote. Cinder knows she is the true heir to the Lunar throne, but stopping the wedding has higher priority than staking her claim yet. No matter what she does, there will be war between Luna and Earth before everything can be resolved.
Cress in the third novel of Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles. This young adult science fiction series looks at a future Earth where the Moon was colonized many years earlier. Over time the Lunars used their scientific advancements to enhance their own mental abilities until they became natural. Now is Lunar born without abilities is cast off at birth, a shell. The stronger Lunars use their abilities to manipulate the weaker ones. Almost any Lunar can control a person from Earth.
While Cress has enough background explanation to be read on its own, it really needs the first two books in the series, Cinder and Scarlet. Each is based on a fairy tale. In her seven years of seclusion, Cress’ hair was never cut. Cress is the Rapunzel story. There is at least one more book in the series. An astute reader will know who the next two protagonists will be for the romance that is the background of each book. I’m trying to guess which fairy tale is next.
Cress moves quickly and keeps the reader involved. Meyer keeps the reader guessing and cheering for Cinder’s group. It’s another thrilling read in the series, building up to a final war to dethrone Queen Levana, crown Cinder, and eliminate the threat of Luna taking over Earth. I wonder when the next (and hopefully final) novel will be out…