After finishing Cinder and Scarlet in a quick succession, I was impatient to start Cress. The beginning of Cress was everything I wanted and expected - it was dramatic, fast paced and worked perfectly well.
Then came the slump. I listened to about one third of the audiobook and started to lose interest in what was happening. Mainly, it had to do with a very long and predictable journey through desert - everything that happened there, including the following kidnapping, I was able to foresee a mile away, which left me feeling ‘meh’ and reluctant to continue. I found myself turning to this audiobook less and less, and eventually had to have a little break.
I did continue with it, and once all of our character finally assembled in one place, the pace picked up again. I did, however, find some of the revelations very obvious, which saddened me. Although I find the narration pleasant and the storyline entertaining enough, it is not as engaging as I would have liked. At times, the series has a bit too much teenager’y drama and soap opera for me.
I do what to remark on the fact that although almost all characters went through some character development in this book, I still can not figure out Carswell Thorne. He was introduced at the end of “Cinder”/beginning of “Scarlet” and was depicted as a completely fluke, a self-absorbed moron and a failed conman, whose mind seemed to be only occupied by ladies and maintaining his good looks. I disliked him a lot at that point. Throughout “Scarlet” Thorne was developing into a better fleshed out character, but I still was not sold on his “a conman with a heart of gold” persona. I found it difficult to believe that Cress would fall for Thorne, when there was clearly nothing heroic about him.
By the end of “Cress”, however, Thorne is turning into a real hero. He is not afraid to admit to his less favourable deeds to Cress, and he is hiding less and less behind his jokes and over-exuberant confidence. Cress is slowly growing into a strong character in this story, perhaps, less than Cinder and Scarlet, but she is a real team member by the end of this novel. She saved the day more than once in this book, which I absolutely loved.
The only character, who has not failed to annoy me in every single book, is Emperor Kai. Not only he is willing to be a sacrifice lamb and go through the marriage with Levana, but he seems to completely incompetent in everything that he does. He is praised for his diplomatic skills, while he failed to secure future peace for his nation. His decision to marry Levana is not only the suicide but also a definite disaster for his nation, if he is, indeed, killed after Levana is crowned as the empress. It is a ridiculous decision, which the author is trying to portray as this big and important sacrifice, but it is just plain stupid. He is choosing to prolong the suffering of his nation (and his own) by implementing this short-term solution. Kai is completely oblivious to everything that is happening in the palace - he is not fully aware of the research, he doesn’t know that there are tunnels under the palace, etc. He seems to be surprised by the most obvious decisions and is fully dependant on his advisor Torin. I hope that he will undergo at least some character development in “Winter” as for now I don’t understand what Cinder (and Iko) see in him as he is not the Prince Charming I expected in this series. (I love the fact that all the female character in the series are badass in their own ways, but Kai just annoys me.)
I feel that this book could have worked really well with at least 50 pages cut out. It is long and the middle of the book is rather slow. The pace did pick up at the end, although I found the ending of “Cress” to be less dramatic and intense than the ending of the second book in the series.
I hoped that I would give this book a higher rating than books one and two, but alas. It is a good series, but so far it has failed to enamour me to it to give it anything higher than 3 stars.
Narration: 4 stars
Plot: 3 stars
Overall: 3 stars