Cress: The Lunar Chronicles, Book 3

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
Cress: The Lunar Chronicles, Book 3 Book Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Series stays exciting with hacker heroine, daring rescues.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 23 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers can look at the original Rapunzel tale and see how this series plays with it, just like the first book did with Cinderella and the second with Little Red Riding Hood. They also can look at the series' future society and compare it with other science-fiction imaginings. The Uglies Quartet and the series starting with Matched are good places to start.

Positive Messages

Good against evil figures prominently. Queen Levana is about as evil as a ruler can get and must be stopped. The series also shows how wielding a great power over others can make some evil and some reluctant to use that power. Another question the series poses: Who deserves rights? Is it just the fully human? What makes someone fully human? 

Positive Role Models & Representations

The main characters in these stories all are modeled after the damsels in distress common in fairy tales. Here, even the sheltered Cress, after wanting to be rescued, ends up holding her own and using her talents. Cinder admits that she's scared to be a leader but continues to prove herself as one. Scarlet's very brave in a dire situation.


One central character suffers a sad death. Wolf is shot and almost dies from blood loss, and another character loses a finger. Two other main characters crash-land. One character loses his sight. A bar brawl gives Thorne a bruised face. A walk through the desert causes hallucinations and near death from thirst. Characters are tied up and kidnapped, and one is sold for experiments. Soldiers and guards are shot in battles -- the good guys try to use tranquilizer darts. A character is tortured with hallucinations. The book mentions that members of the press are murdered and Lunars are taken away from parents at birth and experimented on or killed. It also mentions that a Lunar woman watches her husband get killed in the street. War is waged against Earth, and the main characters hear about much loss of life. There's talk of Cress being given up by her parents at birth by force. A made-up disease kills many on Earth, and more are killed while looking for an antidote.


A couple of steamy kisses and talk of longing to be kissed. An escort droid insinuates that she offers more services than backrubs.


Cinder says "a string of the most creative curses she can think of," with no mention of actual curses.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Kai drinks in one scene. There's a gambling scene in a bar.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Cress is the third of four books in Marissa Meyer's The Lunar Chronicles, a series that features major sci-fi twists on well-known fairy tales. Here Cress is Rapunzel stuck as a hacker in a spy satellite until she's rescued. The rescue goes awry, leading to a main character being shot almost fatally, as well as more main characters nearly killed in a crash and in a march through the desert and then later from gunfights with soldiers and guards. One character is tortured with hallucinations. The backdrop of the series also is tense: Earth and the moon (Luna) are on the verge of war, and many on Earth are dying of a highly contagious disease. There are now three couples in this series, one introduced per book. No one does more than kiss passionately. The only other mature content includes one character drinking and another starting a fight while gambling in a bar with an "escort droid" perched on his lap. The three teen girls at the center of the series -- Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress -- continue to be strong characters. Cress is all about being rescued in the beginning of the book, but her talents as a hacker prove she's a huge asset to her new friends.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byErinThrone July 14, 2018

Great for younger teens

This book is perfect for ages 11-15 especially kids with a high reading level. My daughter loves this series and had no problems like nightmares or things like... Continue reading
Adult Written bybri-kae July 14, 2015
Teen, 17 years old Written bySarah Lotte January 10, 2019

This book is good for younger audience!

I disagree with the age 13 reading age. This entire series is appropriate for 10 and up. There is no swearing in this book and any sort of sex is limited to a f... Continue reading
Written byAnonymous October 21, 2017


OH MY GOSH, this book is the best of the series. As the plot progresses, characters progress as well, and the book adds to the whole continuous adventure of Cin... Continue reading

What's the story?

Cress considers herself the definition of a damsel in distress. She's been stuck alone in a satellite for years against her will, spying on Earthens for Queen Levana of Luna. If only Carswell Thorne -- handsome spaceship captain and wanted criminal -- would come to her rescue. In exchange, she has a lot of dirt on her dangerous queen that Thorne and Cinder, Lunar cyborg princess-in-hiding, will want to know. First of all, Emperor Kai should not marry Levana, even if she's willing to exchange her hand in marriage for the antidote to Earth's deadliest virus, because Levana wants to rule over all of Earth and Luna herself (cue maniacal laugh). Finally, Thorne's ship responds to Cress's call and docks on her satellite, but the rescue goes down in about as tangled a mess as Cress' crazy-long hair. Between kidnappings and crash-landings in the Sahara, how on Earth and Luna are they supposed to stop Kai and Levana's wedding on time?

Is it any good?

Yes, it's true: In CRESS, it does take almost 500 pages for Cinder and Kai to see each other again; luckily, with the introduction of Cress, the 500 pages is worth the wait. She's the most naive character readers will find themselves rooting for. It must be something about her amazing hacker skills. And somehow Thorne ends up a lot more likable when he meets Cress.

Marissa Meyer's great characters will draw readers in first, and they'll stick around for all the impossible situations: the characters rescuing Cress, saving Wolf from a bullet wound, stopping a royal wedding. What'll be next? Saving the world/worlds? Yup, it looks like that's what's in store for Book 4. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the Rapunzel fairy tale. What about Cress is the same? What's different? Did you pick up on why the author named her love interest Thorne? 

  • When did you get into the Lunar Chronicles series? Will you read the fourth book? What do you like most about it? Who's your favorite couple?

  • Cress daydreams about Thorne in her satellite while spying on him and learning everything she can that's recorded about him. Does she really learn everything about him? Can you learn everything about someone from, say, their Facebook page and a Google search?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fairy tales and fantasy

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