1. (+) Cress, the protagonist - In one sense, Cress is the most "typical" of the YA heroines who Meyer has featured: she's quiet, idealistic, waiting for that fairy tale romance (as the characters in fairy tales seem to be), but Cress defies that stereotype by showing her competency in her hacking and computer skills, her intelligence, and her strength, consistently being the one who everyone else has to rely on despite her earlier imprisonment on the satellite. When her entire world is turned around, she's still standing, pushing through to find a solution, and learning how to deal with old and new problems. Plus her coping mechanism -- her very active imagination -- is amusing to read and I imagine, easy for any reader to identify with.
2. (+) World-building - As is typical in Meyer's novels, we get to explore yet another foreign setting and its challenges. We get to learn more about glamour, its effects and how it functions. We also get to learn more about the Lunar's military strategy via the computer work that Cress has been doing for Levana, and of course, the various ships that are involved in this series.
3. (+) Romance - Since Meyer's always introduced the romantic interests in her previous novels, you know that Captain Thorne is the star of Cress's novel. Though Thorne can be shallow and frivolous, Meyer also highlights the part of his reputation that's less influenced by the public eye. He goes through some difficult times in Cress, which show that there's more to him than the flippant humor and good looks. He keeps his promises and is loyal and caring. The romance is sweet, awkward, and funny.
4. (+) Plot - That Meyer had planned out a lot of the details for the series before she started writing is very obvious in Cress. She has to handle Cinder's legacy, her powers and the series plot of Levana v. Cinder; the worldwide implications of the action from Scarlet; the character growth for Cinder, Scarlet, Kai, and Wolf; the wedding between Levana and Kai; the main character arcs for Cress and Thorne; the fairy tale elements for Rapunzel; all three romances; the differences between Lunar and a futuristic Earthen culture and how that manifests in character actions, and more. She does all this with skill, and I'm looking forward to seeing how everything unravels in the final installment.
5. (+) Consistency - One of the better things about this series is that Meyer has kept each of the books consistent in terms of plot, plot techniques, the amount of action, the feel of each book, and themes. She's always foreshadowing the next romances and dealing with the consequences and implications introduced in the previous novels while making sure to include her signature blend of action, science fantasy, and fairy tale elements. It's a good feeling to know exactly what you're getting.
6. (+/-) Characters - Even if I'm not entirely attached to all the characters, one of the good things about the way Meyer has intertwined her novels is that the side characters in each tend to have their own books or novellas. Wolf, Scarlet, etc. get developed and their own arcs in each novel, and they've already been developed in Scarlet, so the side cast is mostly unforgettable for that reason.
7. (+/-) Personal - I see people fangirling about this series everywhere, and it makes me sad because while I think this is executed well, I still have not gotten the feels from this series or formed an attachment to any of the characters. Why am I still reading the novels then? Well, because they're good books. I like the characters, the plot, the action, and yet in this sense, the consistency of these novels does not help to break that level of slight detachment. Even still I'm looking forward to readingWinter.
8. (+) The Writing - As always, Marissa Meyer's writing is smooth, easy to read. Made for a fast-paced adventure story. I think part of my detachment is because of the writing: it accomplishes a lot, but I don't think it's the kind of style that I personally love.
9. (+/-) The Pacing - It's a 600 page book. No matter how well I think that Meyer handled the pacing, it's still really hard not to have noticed when the pacing slowed down or when I no longer felt the same level of stakes.
10. (+) The Cover
- Definitely my favorite cover of the series. I love how the covers have incorporated striking shades of red, white, and blue, and fairy tale hints while still looking visually stunning. I love the C and how that font is the series unique mark. Also I may just love this one because of the hair and the scene that that brings to mind.
Deftly twining series plot threads with those introduced in Cress, Marissa Meyer has managed to create another thrilling blend of science fantasy, romance, and fairy tale adventure.