by Marissa Meyer
Rating: 4.5 Stars
‘Princess Winter is admired for her grace, kindness and beauty, despite the scars on her face. She’s said to be even more breath-taking than her stepmother, Queen Levana…
When Winter develops feelings for the handsome palace guard, Jacin, she fears the evil Queen will crush their romance before it has a chance to begin.
But there are stirrings against the Queen across the land. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even find the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.
Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter claim their happily ever afters by defeating Levana once and for all?’
Please note that this is the final book in the series and there will therefore be SPOILERS contained within this review for the previous three books.
As with all the previous instalments of The Lunar Chronicles, I read this at great speed. This was possibly because I was living in fear that Jess – my friend over @themoormaiden – would change her mind and come and retrieve my copy (Jess is the astonishingly kind friend who BOUGHT me a copy of Winter as she knew I was fifth in the reservation queue at the library). So this review is brought to you courtesy of the lovely Jess Gofton, converting the world to TLC one reader at a time.
So, on to Meyer’s latest contribution. Now here is a lady who knows how to wrap up a series. Coming into this Meyer had a lot to do – introduce us to Princess Winter, explain Jacin’s motivations, get the gang up on Lunar and launch a rebellion on a moon full of mind-controlling nobles. Somehow Meyer managed it and with some considerable style, but she needed every one of those 800+ pages to do it.
I know a lot of reviews say that the pace lagged in places, but I think that, by and large, it was well done. There was so much going on that you needed the moments of stillness amongst all that action. With our band of heroes separated out into small groups or even individual missions, there was so many different plot strands going on that we would definitely have lost the thread otherwise. I also liked that she mixed up the combinations of characters once they split up, not sticking to the pairings from the first three books. I particularly loved the adventures of Winter and Scarlet as they were such different personalities.
I think that one of the best things about this series, is that there is never anyone in The Lunar Chronicles who’s there solely for the purpose of acting as a prop to the main character. Every character has backstory and purpose. I also really like that they don’t all necessarily agree with what may be considered the main objective, their motivations put them in conflict with each other in addition to combating the ‘big bad’ of Levana.
A lot of my quibbles about the previous books were assuaged here. Kai gets to be more of an active character this time round (although he does seem to disappear a bit at one point). Scarlet and Wolf become much more believable and interesting to follow. Cress is adorable and has found an inner strength that’s a joy to read. Thorne’s coming into his own and realising there is something to be said for being on the side of good rather than profit.
I was a little worried that Cinder’s character was going to lose a bit of focus in her new role as a rebel princess. Indeed in parts of the novel she was close to becoming a bit of a ‘Mockingjay’ figure, rather than Cinder the scruffy mechanic who wants nothing to do with all this ridiculous politicking. This was always going to be really tricky for Meyer to balance, characters have to grow and change, but it has to be a credible change. I think ultimately she does manage to strike a decent balance on this and the ending bodes well for what I hoped would happen at the conclusion of her story.
Iko continues to be one of my favourite characters. She may have started this journey purely out of friendship, but along the way it has become a journey to define herself, to gain greater agency and decide what she wants from her existence. Also her banter with one of the Lunar guards was priceless.
Now, to the antagonists. One of the best things about TLC is Meyer’s creation of the Lunar Gift, there’s understandably something incredibly unsettling about being able to take over another’s will. She plays with this tension wonderfully throughout the novel – though I’m not going into this now as I don’t want to spoil it for you. Needless to say, she explores it in a very interesting manner and from multiple angles. Cinder and Levana’s confrontation comes across very well, with some aspects going as expected and others being cleverly done surprises. I’m still not sure whether I’m entirely convinced about what’s under Levana’s veil – I really liked the idea but was simultaneously expecting something more.
All in all Winter is not without its faults – but Meyer’s done a masterful job here.