Dear me, I actually finished a book series. Well… not quite. With a bit of cheating, I guess. The in-between-prequel story of Queen Levana – Fairest – is still waiting on my shelf, unread, but the actual main story arc of The Lunar Chronicles is finished. This last instalment was unnecessarily long but still enjoyable for the same reasons I liked Cress.
Published by: Feiwel and Friends, 2015
Hardcover: 824 pages
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #4
My rating: 7/10
First sentence: Winter’s toes had become ice cubes.
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?
A widely-used trope in any given TV show is the couple that’s clearly meant for each other but whose love story is drawn out over season upon season in order to keep the tension. And you know what? I kind of love that stuff. That moment, when they finally get together, when all the unspoken feelings suddenly break free – that shit is utterly satisfying to watch. And books are no different. Marissa Meyer took a risk with keeping all of her couples sort of not-really-together until this final book in the Lunar Chronicles series. But it totally works and turns Winter into a firework of FEELS. Until it overdoes it and devliers twenty endings (sort of like Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings).
The plot continues where we left off in Cress but Marissa Meyer has not been idle. The story may continue seamlessly but she ups her character-game a notch or two. What makes this such a pleasure to read is how these characters, based on fairy tales and by default one-dimensional and trope-laden, get together and work as a team. They each get to shine in their own right, they each show different sides of themselves that may have nothing to do with their fairy tale origin. Cress is brave, Scarlet is tough, Cinder doubts herself, Winter is clever. Seeing Thorne in emotional turmoil was a whole different story (I can’t help it, I have a thing for him) and Wolf’s brooding became more than just background decoration. This may all very well be due to my totally getting into this story and not seeing all the glaring faults this book may have. But, dear readers, I don’t care. I had a blast reading this.
Despite the ever growing cast of characters, this book is called Winter for a reason. It tells Winter’s story, the girl of otherworldly beauty that had the mistfortune of being Queen Levana’s stepdaughter. At the end of Cress, we got a little sneak peek into who Winter is and the impression everyone got was that we are dealing with an insane person. But Winter is more than that. She does suffer from a disability, but instead of crawling into a hole she uses this disability to her advantage.
The romance also differed from the ones in the previous books. We’ve had two strangers falling in love (Cinder and Kai, Scarlet and Wolf) and we had a couple where one person thought themselves in love before even meeting the other (Cress and Thorne), but here we have something much more realistic and believable, a romance that is great to read without the banter. Jacin and Winter have been friends forever and it’s no secret that Jacin loves her dearly. Winter’s feelings for him are not so well-known but neither of them hides their feelings very well in front of the other. What you get is total devotion and a love based on years spent together. What a refreshing thing to do in a series that lives off love at first sight.
The plot drags at several points but those are usually the same chapters that are full of tension because characters who clearly love each other are separated and fearing for the other’s life. I have to acknowledge the flaws in Winter but I don’t have to let them keep me from enjoying the book. Sometimes, you need a little silliness, a dumb revolution plot that sounds ridiculous and totally unbelievable. But who cares when you’ve got fairy tale princesses kicking ass, androids fangirling about princes, and four romantic couples that draw out their romance for as long as humanly possible.
Up until the climax, Marissa Meyer keeps up the pacing well enough (with the caveat mentioned above), and it was interesting to see the Lunar society and how they live. But once the action is over and it’s time to pick up the pieces of this war, things are reaaaaaally drawn out without any reason I could see. The thing is, by this point, all the romantic sub-plots are done. We know who ends up with whom, who lives, who dies, who is broken forever and who makes it out of this unscathed. There were just too many chapters dealing with the aftermath, without really delivering anything that I could consider satisfying. Plus, it all just seems a bit too easy. Nonetheless, a handful of boring chapters don’t ruin a book (a 97-chapter strong one, at that).
These books won’t become classics or end up on best of lists by critics of High Literature (I write this in my snooty voice), but, my gods, are they fun to read! Ever since Cress, the problems with plotting and character development have decreased and left me free to enjoy all the stuff that happens and yearn for my favorite couple to finally get together – in case you haven’t guessed it, I ship Cress and Thorne. It must be said, however, that Scarlet and Wolf, the two characters I cared the least about during this entire series, have actually grown on me. Cinder and Kai still haven’t returned to their glory from the first book, but who cares when there are enough other characters to root for?
As a whole, this series had many problems. But the moment I just stopped thinking about anything too hard (or at all), I could enjoy these science fiction fairy tales. Winter was a romp of fun and action, romance and teamwork. Now it’s time to go back and read about why Levana is such a bitch of epic proportions.
MY RATING: 7/10 – Very good