Rating: 3.5 Stars
Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.
Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend—the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.
Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters?
Winter is the latest and hottest YA finale this year. From Goodreads to Tumblr, Marissa Meyer’s fandom grows more and more each day, inching further into our minds and gripping our brains–just like the Lunar gift.
So. What’s all the hubbub about? Has Meyer written an original swan song to end an epic, heartbreaking series of books? Or has she simply mimicked and repackaged marketable YA concepts? I like to think that the reality lies somewhere in between these two extremes.
Allow me to introduce you to Winter.
Every book in this series has focused on a new character, and unsurprisingly, this one’s about Levana’s beautiful, slightly unhinged stepdaughter. Because she refuses to use her gift, Winter has developed Lunar Sickness–which causes the mind to deteriorate into madness. Hallucinations, paranoia, the works.
Meanwhile, Cinder and the gang are trying to find a way to invade Luna and dethrone Levana–on a serious time crunch, no less, since the queen is threatening intergalactic war unless she gets her crown AND her man (Kai, mister sassy emperor roll).
Personally, this is how I’d like to imagine Cinder dethroning Levana:
GET DAT THRONE GURL.
As the final showdown draws closer, our beloved protagonists must dodge execution and betrayal at every turn. Levana grows more dangerous; her thaumaturges get more bloodthirsty by the minute. If Cinder cannot gather an army, then she’s done for. CrazyPants McNutNut will win.
And so…the debacle that is Winter begins.
What I Liked
– Winter the Character –
“I am a girl of ice and snow, and I think I’m very glad to meet you.”
She’s beauty, she’s grace, she sees blood dripping all over your face.
I really, really loved Winter the Character.
We’ve had Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, and the Rapunzel stories covered so far (Cinder, Scarlet, Cress). Winter’s our resident Snow White. The best part: She’s actually black.
Honestly: Winter is probably my favorite character in this entire goddamn series; she’s the realest and the most relatable. See, some readers disagree with me because Winter is so beautiful and beloved by her people. They think that Winter gets a pass on everything due to her beauty and likability. But that’s how the real world works. That happens. All the time.
And emotionally fragile, scarred girls who still have a pure heart after everything that’s happened to them? They’re something special. Winter is a flower among thorns. She’s refreshing.
I love Cinder and Cress, but let’s be real, how many girls are expert mechanic cyborgs or the best programmers in their nation by age 16? How many? I’ll wait. I can’t relate to feisty, snappy Scarlet either. Others say that Scarlet’s bold; I say she’s a bit conceited.
It’s fine to idolize such characters, but make no mistake: When you call Winter weak, you’re showing your blindness to her true power. LOVE.
– The Jacin x Winter Dynamic –
Of all the relationships force-fed to us by The Lunar Chronicles, Jacin and Winter are by far my favorite couple. Their love and understanding of each other is a fantastic thing in a sea of heartless partners and desperate stage-five clingers. This is the only romantic relationship in the series that I 100 percent approve of. (Don’t hate me. I mean, I’m alright with Kai and Cinder…)
Bonus fanart pic of Jacin and Winter! (Created by Tumblr user taratjah)
They are just the cutest.
– Battle Scenes –
Meyer has a knack for writing action-packed paragraphs. I enjoyed reading about the group’s efforts to rally people to their side, and I glued myself to the pages during Winter’s battle scenes. For the most part, these were well-done and highly developed. I do have a soft spot for battle preparations.
What I Didn’t Like
– Pacing Problems –
Winter (the book) suffers from the same pacing issues that have plagued this series since Scarlet. Literally, the only novel without awful pacing is Cinder, which is strange since that was Meyer’s debut work. Although the writing and world-building became more complex and interesting, the pacing continued to deteriorate as the chronicles went on.
The result is a slow read that sometimes feels like a chore to get through.
– Undeveloped Relationships –
If Meyer didn’t give her characters such stale dialogue in a dull effort to develop romantic relationships, then maybe the pacing wouldn’t be so bad. But as it is, way too much time is dedicated to low-quality banter.
It doesn’t help that I have never rooted for these relationships. They are way too forced and always will be. No amount of convo-stuffing is going to change that.
- Bad Relationship #1: Cress & Thorne
This is the most undeveloped relationship in the series. So Cress falls in love with Thorne before she even meets him, due to her being a naive teenage girl. Then Thorne & Cress meet, subsequently becoming stranded in a desert. They band together to survive, yadayada. Later, the gang reunites, Thorne starts having real feelings for Cress, and Cress is insecure because Thorne flirts with everything that moves. You get the gist of it.
Unfortunately, their scenes together–particularly their earliest ones–were cringeworthy. Seriously. UGH. It gets a little bit better in Winter, but this ship is still unbelievable. Cress deserves better than Thorne. She’s a genius, for space’s sake; Thorne’s just a flirty criminal with cheap charisma. Cress must have serious self-esteem issues. >.>
- Bad Relationship #2: Scarlet & Wolf
See, I almost excused this couple from the Bad Relationship Category due to Wolf’s animalistic instincts. That does make him possessive and eager to mate more quickly than the typical human male. But that seems like a shitty excuse. Yeah yeah, Scarlet & Wolf have been around a while, too, much to my annoyance. Book Two (which featured them) was so drawn-out and boring.
Sure, Scarlet & Wolf have chemistry. But love? Nuh-uh. They can be protective of each other; they can want each other; and yet… I don’t see these two being endgame.
I might be slightly biased, as Scarlet is my least favorite character. Oh well.
I’m leaving Cinder & Kai out of this one since their partnership is passable. They’ve been around since Book One, and they’re royalty. Of course they need to end up together for the Earthen-Lunar alliance (and for swooning fans). Kai certainly isn’t the most caring of men. But I’ll let it go because Political Reasons.
– World-Building –
I don’t necessarily hate the world-building in this series…but it could be better. At first, Luna intrigued me with its gifted populace and privileged classes. But in Winter, it becomes sadly obvious that the author has borrowed a bunch of tired dystopian concepts to describe the Lunar civilization.
Exhibit A: Luna has different sectors (lumber, mining, etc.) that don’t communicate with each other, along with a wealthy capital that gorges on every luxury.
Exhibit B: Everyone in the poorer sectors wears the same utilitarian clothing in dull colors.
Exhibit C: Each sector exists for a different purpose with its entire population working in the same industry. The wealthier sectors make the luxury items for Luna’s aristocratic families.
The Hunger Games, anyone??? Meyer didn’t even try to be original here. Winter could’ve fared far better if the author had taken some time to describe unique facets of Lunar society. I was so excited to finally see Luna culture; sadly, it was a disappointment.
In Fairest–a prequel about Levana–the Lunar capital was described in a fascinating way, erasing any thoughts about cliches before they appeared. The author failed to do this in Winter.
Winter is a moderately entertaining read that suffers from pacing issues and undeveloped character relationships. However, it’s a satisfying finale for those who have stuck with Cinder and her amazing sidekick Iko from the very beginning. This is the epic ending that we’ve all been waiting for–will you join Princess Selene’s rebellion?
A solid 3.5 Stars.
Try The Lunar Chronicles if you enjoy the following literary flavors:
- futuristic society
- science fiction/fantasy
- magical powers
- oppressive governments
- princes and princesses
- true love
- the power of beauty
- intergalactic war