Winter by Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #4
Published by: Feiwel & Friends on November 10th, 2015
Genre: Science Fiction, Fairytale Retelling, Young Adult
Find It: Goodreads
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? Fans will not want to miss this thrilling conclusion to Marissa Meyer’s national bestselling Lunar Chronicles series.
At a staggering 800+ pages, Winter delivers on a lot of things: strong, independent heroines. Slow-burning romances. Plot twists. An unreliable antagonist. Unexpected heroes. But where it falters is in scope, with pacing being problematic at best and downright unreadable at worst.
Our favourite heroines, Cinder, Scarlet and Cress are back, along with their respective love interests Kai, Wolf and Thorne. Add Winter and her love interest Jacin into the mix and that’s 8 different potential PoVs before we’ve even considered the antagonists; this is where Winter dragged the most.
There were so many storylines, but many of them felt unnecessary. I have to agree with Goodreads user Darth J:
It reminds me of a video game with too many tedious side quests and overlong cutscenes that you can’t skip through. While there’s plenty of action, the meat to garnish ratio here is not filling.
I also felt like I was stuck in a loop. “Hero[ine] is separated from love interest. Angst over separation. A reunion! Bah! Separated again.” Wash, rinse, repeat. This is where I really noticed the pacing issues. Any fear I had for the captured hero[ine], any tension created by their imprisonment, was quickly vanquished with the promise of yet another rescue. This had me flipping forward, skimming for the next twist, in order to encourage myself to keep reading.
So imagine my surprise when a little over halfway through, Cinder is already confronting the evil Queen Levana. If they’re already encountering each other, if I’m about to read the final showdown, what are the remaining 300+ pages for? All the tension from the previous books, and the first 400-or-so pages of Winter, evaporated when I realized that (highlight for spoiler) Cinder failed remarkably in her initial assault on the Queen, she escaped by the skin of her teeth and now has a second chance to try it all again.
Pacing aside, I also had a hard time truly warming to Winter [the character] – pun not intended. She had her own kind of strength. It served to separate her from the other heroines of the series, but I felt like she had the least growth. The constant reminders of her beauty grew tiresome, and the side effects of her Lunar Sickness made it feel like Meyer was just looking for an excuse to write nonsensical prose.
I was also really hoping to see Winter fully exercise her powers. I wanted her to realize that saving her friends and her kingdom was worth the risk. Alas, both when she chose to use them, and the repercussions of her choice, were disappointing.
Pacing issues and Winter’s eccentricities aside, I still found myself unable to put Winter down. When the storyline was actually advancing the plot, I was sucked into the heightened tensions of war and the anticipation of an attack on Luna. Some of the tender (and not-so-tender) moments between Scarlet and Wolf, and Cress and Thorne, had my pulse-racing. And after four books, it was comforting to have a decisive ending to everyone’s stories.
A satisfying conclusion to an otherwise fantastic series, but a little long-winded for my liking.