discussions

REVIEW + DISCUSSION: winter by marissa meyer

Winter by Marissa Meyer

Published by: Feiwel & Friends on November 10th, 2015

Pages: 823

Format: Hardcover

Series: The Lunar Chronicles Book 4

Amazon // Goodreads

★★★★★

Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mark 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.

SPOILERS AHEAD.

these books are so special to me

It’s hard to explain how much this series means to me, but I’m going to try.

I marathoned this series over the course of a weekend, when I was in a really bad place and felt extremely alone. These books were the perfect antidote for that, and despite them being quite long, specifically the last 2, I was never bored. Marissa Meyer constantly kept me on my toes, and I was rooting for every single one of the characters. These books are just so special. That being said, I was a little nervous for Winter. First of all, it’s a whopping 823 pages, making this the 2nd longest book I’ve ever read (right after Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which is 870 pages), and I’m the kind of person who gets intimidated by long books. And more importantly, I’ve read many series where the ending wasn’t satisfying, and I really didn’t want that to be the case with the Lunar Chronicles, a series that had become so dear to me in such a short time.

I am so, so happy to say that Winter did not let me down. It exceeded my expectations; in fact, it blew me out of the water. It is my absolute favorite book of 2017, one of my favorite books of all time, and despite the massive page length, I managed to finish it in a day. That is how much I loved this book.

the action began right away

I’m the kind of person who gets bored easily in books, which is part of why I love the Lunar Chronicles so much. The action literally starts from the get go. Within the first 100 pages, we were already thrown into the war, and we had characters separated, back together, and separated again. At 800+ pages, you would expect some sort of fillersto be present, but that wasn’t the case at all with Winter. There wasn’t one page wasted; every word had a purpose. Marissa Meyer didn’t just write an 800+ page book to prove she could do it, she wrote it because she had to. This was the right way to finish their story, and I am so grateful to her for it.

princess winter

I was a little bit hesitant about Princess Winter when we were briefly introduced to her in Cress. She seemed a little unhinged, and entirely different from our other 3 main female leads. But she was actually such a fascinating character to read about. Winter is known for being the most beautiful girl on Luna, which is why her stepmother resents her, since she’s jealous of her beauty. The thing that’s different about Levana and Winter’s beauty, though, is that while Levana uses a glamour, Winter’s is all real. That’s why she suffers so often, because she doesn’t want to use her glamour and deceive people. Winter was just so, so sweet, without it ever feeling fake or cheesy.

“She was prettier than a bouquet of roses and crazier than a headless chicken. Fitting in was not an option.”

There was one scene when her and Scarlet were trying to convince a pack of wolves, who are usually Levana’s guards, to side with them. Scarlet just assumed the wolves were going to kill them, but Winter saw the good in them, and they eventually sided with her and Scarlet. That’s something I really enjoy about the females in this book. So often in YA do we see girls being mean, or putting each other down, and it is just so refreshing to see such nice girls taking the lead. Nice is, surprisingly, underrated in YA.

Winter’s love interest is Jacin Clay, her guard who works for Levana but is secretly sided with Cinder and the gang. Jacin and Winter were cute, but I have to say that they are my least favorite couple of the four. That’s not to say I didn’t like them, but I did have a couple of issues with them. First of all, Jacin was a tad bit possessive over Winter. I understand that she sometimes suffers from mental illnesses, but sometimes it got to be a little too much. Secondly, we didn’t get to see them fall in love the way we did with all of the other couples, their romance was just always there.

“Jacin,” she said, with a shaky smile. “You must know. I cannot remember a time when I didn’t love you. I don’t think such a time ever existed.”

the captain and the hacker

I’m going to talk about the rest of the characters later, but Cress and Thorne deserved to have their own heading, because I just love them that much. They are my OTP, my #2 book couple of all time (after Juliette and Warner), and they just have so much chemistry. Their relationship was also a lot more of a slow burn than the rest, which, in my opinion, made it so much more exciting when they finally got together.

I loved when Thorne was dropping Kai back to the Eastern Commonwealth, and he asked him what was going on between him and Cress. Thorne had no idea how much Cress cared about him, and he sincerely believed he wasn’t the hero she thought he was.

“You deserve better than some thief who’s going to end up in jail again. Everyone knows it. Even I know it. But you seem determined to believe I’m actually a decent guy who’s halfway worthy of you. So, what scares me most”—he twisted a lock of her hair between his fingers—“is that someday even you will realize that you can do better.”

But when Cress gets separated from the group, Thorne, who is usually upbeat and sarcastic, is lost without her, and I think that’s when we realize–and he realizes–how much he truly cares about her.

The rooftop kiss scene was honestly the greatest thing ever, and Marissa Meyer could not have made me any happier. My heart races literally every time Cress and Thorne are mentioned, so you can imagine how excited I was when they finally kissed. Seriously, I’ve gone back and read the scene multiple times now, and I finished the book last night.

“I’m all right. I just don’t want to talk about it.”

He considered her for a long moment. “All right,” he said, finally. “I don’t want to talk about it either.”

She started to nod, but was surprised when Thorne pushed away from the door. Cress blinked and stumbled back, startled by the sudden movement. Three, four steps. The backs of her thighs hit one of the desks.

“What – ?”

In one movement, Thorne lifted her onto the desk and pressed her back against an enormous potted fern and – oh.

Cress had built a thousand fantasies around their rooftop kiss, but this kiss was something new.

Where before, the kiss had been gentle and protective, now there was something passionate. Determined. Cress’s body dissolved into nothing but sensation. His hands burned her waist through the skirt’s thin fabric. Her knees pressed against his hips, and he pulled her closer, closer, like he couldn’t get enough.

D E A D. I am dead!!!!

#squad goals

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: This series has so many strengths, from its action scenes, to its character development, to its world building, to its romance, but the true gem lies in the friendships. I just want to be on the Rampion with Cinder, Kai, Cress, Thorne, Scarlet, Wolf, Winter, Jacin, and Iko!! I just loved how these characters were literally willing to do anything for each other, and how they were always there when the other needed them. Even though Cinder is the leader of the revolution, each and every character was still so important to the fight, and I just love that. Cinder wasn’t the “Chosen One”, or any other cliche YA trope (no shade, JK, you created that trope). It was just perfect.

And don’t even get me started on the banter between these characters. I’ve included some of my favorite quotes below.

“Did you see any rice in there? Maybe we could fill Cinder’s head with it.”

Everyone stared at him.

“You know, to…absorb the moisture, or something. Isn’t that a thing?”

“We’re not putting rice in my head.”

****

Thorne scoffed. “Careful is my middle name. Right after suave and daring.”

“Do you even know what you’re saying half the time?” asked Cinder.

****

“Winter reached over and pulled the pilot’s harness over Scarlet’s head. “Safety first, Scarlet-friend. We are fragile things.”

****

“A kiss from the Captain would probably melt my central processor.”

Thorne winked at her. “Oh, trust me. It would.”

cinder’s character development

I have to give a separate heading to this too, because it just stood out to me so much. Cinder has developed so much from the shy cyborg we met in the first book. She may be Princess Selene, but she’s a warrior now. She advocates for cyborg rights, she stands up to Adri, she addresses the Commonwealth and Lunars and tells them of her plans to get her throne back, and she shuts Queen Levana down countless times.

When her and Wolf got captured, and Cinder was brought into the wedding as a “gift” for Kai, I really had no idea how she was going to get out of it. But she has really harnessed her powers, and when she managed to escape by jumping out of the window, I was practically on the edge of my seat. Cinder is just so awesome. Plus, I adore her and Kai, and they are the perfect team. #EmperorandEmpress!!

queen levana

Oh, Queen Levana. Our favorite villain that we love to hate. I don’t think I’ve read a villain as great as her in a long time. We learned a lot more about her in this book, and I’m sure I’ll learn even more when I read the novella from her perspective, Fairest, which I’m hoping to get to later this month.

We learned that the main reason why Levana is so vain and cautious about people seeing her real appearance is actually because of Cinder’s mother. She used to burn her on purpose, leaving her with ugly scars that she felt the need to conceal, or else she would never be beautiful. I do wish we had learned more about this, because I feel like it would help us understand her motives more, but I think Marissa Meyer touches upon it more in Fairest, since it is Queen Levana’s story, after all.

We also found out that there was one person Levana loved after all, and that was her dead husband, Winter’s father. He was killed by a power-hungry thaumaturge, and she admitted herself to being a mess after he died. She said multiple times how much she loved him, and how she even still wears her wedding ring on her finger, but his death also seems to clearly have hardened her.

“Love,” she whispered. “Love is a conquest. Love is a war. That is all it is.”

The one thing I do wish we had seen more of, though, was Queen Levana’s downfall. The chapter ended with her stabbing Cinder in her (silicon) heart, but by the next page, she’s waken up by her friends and they’re telling her what happened. Queen Levana is dead, but we don’t even know who killed her, or how it happened. I wish we could have had a little more clarity on that front, because I feel like that was the only loose end left in the story for me.

happily ever after

All in all, Winter was a perfect conclusion to a perfect series. I honestly could not have asked for anything more from these books, and I will treasure them for the rest of my life. They have the perfect blend of action, romance, world building, fairy tales, and friendship, and I will never stop recommending them to people. I can’t believe it took me so long to start reading these books, but once I did, I couldn’t stop, judging by how I finished all 4 books in 3 days!

I truly want to thank Marissa Meyer for writing such an incredible series, because they were just a fantastic ride from start to finish. I can’t wait to read her other books, as well as the 2 novellas in the Lunar Chronicles series, and I can’t wait to reread this series in the future and be reunited with my favorite characters again.

And they all lived happily to the end of their days.

Until next time,

-Dana

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