Winter by Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles #4) / ★★★★★
One sentence summary: Princess Winter battles insanity and her stepmother, evil Queen Levana, and joins the ranks of Cinder and her friends to put an end to her.
“Wait,” said Winter as Scarlet nudged the podship forward.
Scarlet’s heart dropped. “What?” she said, scanning the port for a thaumaturge, a guard, a threat.
Winter reached over and pulled the pilot’s harness over Scarlet’s head. “Safety first, Scarlet-friend. We are fragile things.”
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Young Adult
WOW. I’m dead. Not only was Winter a FANTASTIC ending to a series, but it’s my favorite Lunar Chronicles book. I enjoyed every single word of it, and it was constantly in the back of my mind. I couldn’t wait to go home every day so I could read it, and at the same time I hated approaching the end, because I didn’t want it to be over. It was everything I needed it to be and more, plot-wise, character-wise, and romance-wise.
Every review I’ve written for this book series is really just mounting praise .What I love so much about each of these books, but Winter in particular, is that Meyer does not let these characters achieve easy victories. Everything comes with an obstacle, or a price, no matter which choice they make. I loved how many twists and turns the plot took because of this, and so many times I had to resist the urge to flip ahead a few pages to make sure characters turned out all right (sometimes I gave into the urge. I’m weak). I got so stressed throughout this book, it was GREAT.
I loved how Meyer used the Snow White story for Winter. I mean, I’ve loved how she’s used every retelling – in my opinion Meyer is nothing short of brilliant – but I loved how she brought together the plot points of the previous books to build up and unwind Winter’s story. Also, Snow White just has a special place in my heart. You know how you had that one movie or show you watched over and over and over as a kid? Snow White was mine.
And lastly, the relationships. I have not had so much fun reading romance in so long. Meyer is fantastic at writing romantic tension – bringing a paring together, keeping them apart, bringing them together and ripping them apart again – and there was no pairing in this series that I did not enjoy. I thought Meyer did a fantastic job of balancing the romantic and the nonromanctic plotlines, and weaving them together. And the friendships- the friendships between these characters were precious and honestly there was no combination of characters I did not enjoy reading together.
This book was over 800 pages, but never found it feeling too slow, or too rushed, and it delivered a fantastic, thorough story. This entire series was such a good balance of every element it gave us. The Lunar Chronicles has definitely made it up very high on my list of All Time Favorite Series. I can’t believe I was against it for so long simply because I didn’t like the cover of the first book. But this is not the first time first impressions kept me away from a fantastic book, so. I always get worn down eventually! And thank goodness.
I. Love. Winter. My favorite character has changed throughout this series, but now that I know them all, my heart definitely goes to Winter. I loved her version of the Snow White character- her kindness and her cleverness and her gentleness, and sense of humor, and how it made her so very strong and loved. When we talk about strong female characters, Winter’s softer edge is the kind of strength I personally look up to and love to find in female characters most of all. I loved her struggle with her gift and her insanity. My only regret is that we only knew her for one book! (and like 5 pages of Cress but shh).
And JACIN. His character did not stand out to me in Cress, so much so that I forgot to even mention him in my review of that book, but he completely captured my heart in Winter. The second he said, “Hey, Trouble” I knew I was in for it. I love angsty, seemingly hard hearted characters stripped to softness, and Jacin’s character definitely fulfilled that.
I didn’t think they’d top Cress and Thorne in the romance department, but honestly I think I shipped Winter and Jacin even more. Even though we only got to know them together for this book, I thought Meyer wrote their relationship wonderfully, their friendship, their romance. I loved the gentleness between them, how it felt fragile and unbreakable at the same time. I don’t think any of the other ships made me feel quite as much pain as they did (which means I loved it with all my heart).
(This gets slightly spoilery so be warned)
But speaking of Cress and Thorne, I loved their development in this book, individually and romantically. I lived for every interaction between them, and I loved how Cress struggled to learn how to be heroic, while Thorne went through his own battle to be a better person. They were adorable and so sweet and they had SUCH a satisfying ending, I couldn’t have asked for more.
And I love Cinder. She’d come such a long way since the first book. I was so satisfied with how things played out for her and the decisions she made at the end. And Kai. Sweet, good Kai.
(Getting real spoilery now)
Also, this book definitely made me appreciate Levana fully for the evil character she is. My favorite aspect of her character is how she would use friendships and loved ones against each other in a show of power, but never grasped that this would ultimately always backfire – that true love was always stronger than any forced loyalty or fear – and make her weaker. I loved that that was what ultimately lead to the unwinding of her rule.
(MAJOR SPOILER WARNING)
I was terrified that Wolf was going to die. I was pretty convinced he was going to be the one to get it. When Ryu died, I was like RED ALERT FORESHADOW. But I’m so happy that he didn’t, that he gets to go live on the farm with Scarlet, because that poor boy deserves it. I’m honestly so happy that everyone survived and “lived happily ever after.” It is such a refreshing ending. Thank goodness.
(End of spoilers)
TL;DR: I loved these characters with all my heart and I’m so happy with how all of their stories played out.
As usual, I find Meyer’s writing brilliant. Descriptive and concise and fantastic storytelling. With every book she heightened the tension brilliantly.
Was I satisfied?
YES! Winter is my favorite Lunar Chronicles book and a brilliant ending to the series. The Lunar Chronicles is definitely now one of my favorite book series. It’s so entertaining and fun and heart wrenching. I loved it. I’m sad its over but it was so satisfying to reach the end. These books were SO MUCH FUN.