I did it. I finished the Lunar Chronicles. I have so many feelings about this final installment, that I was half tempted to not review it in my usual format. And by that I mean, I have so many things I need to vent about in this review ugh. But instead of just ranting about this book, I figured I’d do a review in my usual format and then do some other follow up posts about my gripes with this book/series as a whole.
That being said, spoilers for not only Winter, but the entire Lunar Chronicles series below!
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 best-selling Lunar Chronicles series.
This audiobook includes an exclusive interview between the author and the narrator.
Ever seen Sailor Moon, guys? Remember the Moon Kingdom in the Silver Millennium? Because that’s Luna in a nutshell! I kept on thinking while reading this that it was basically YA dystopian Moon Kingdom, with Queen Beryl ruling. I know Meyer is a huge Sailor Moon fan, but honestly this rubbed me the wrong way. I’ve seen this type of design for the Moon Kingdom in a few fanfictions I’ve read as well, so even though it’s an inventive way to portray the moon with all of the scifi fantasy stuff in it it’s not really original.
I feel like Luna wasn’t really well thought out, to be perfectly honest. Like, one thing would be explained, and I’d have another question about the world. “Why did Earthen’s migrate to Luna in the first place if resources were so low?” “Why did they mutate to have the Lunar gift in the first place?”. This book just brought to light all of the flaws in the world building for me and the length of the book didn’t help make the flaws less apparent.
Aruuuuuug, this book is so long! I don’t understand why it’s so long, either. A good chunk of the book is just them all sitting around, trying to start a rebellion via strategizing, and Levana thwarting the main characters so many times that it got a little (and by that I mean a lot) frustrating. What baffles me more is that the first three books in this series are so much shorter, and suffer the same pacing issues. Scarlet has good pacing I feel, but Cress, Cinder and Winter all suffer from a big middle section of nothing, and the beginning and end being actually interesting.
My major problem with Marissa Meyer’s plotting is that she spends so much time separating the characters, having them all do their own thing for like, ten chapters or more then reuniting in the beginning and ends of the books. This wouldn’t be a problem if the characters on their own were dynamic, but the cast really is an ensemble cast that play well off of each other and separating them into groups of two or less is really a drag on the story. I will say Scarlet and Winter are amazing as a twosome, though, and Scarlet is a great standalone character. But just, uuuugh why is this book so long? It could have easily been three books if you trim a lot of the fat out of Cress and Winter, and got our characters to where they needed to go a lot sooner.
Our title character Winter, is a delight. She’s just so beautiful in her flaws. She suffers from a debilitating sickness that causes her to have hallucinations and not trust her own mind, and the story doesn’t shy away from this. At times it’s a strength, at times it’s a weakness, but she’s just a really well rounded character. I especially love her and Scarlet’s relationship: Scarlet being her maternal, strong willed self balances out Winter’s naïve, idealistic, sweet mentality perfectly and even though I don’t really like when the cast splits up, I genuinely found myself loving seeing Scarlet and Winter on their own together. Winter and Jacin play off of each other really well (even though I still don’t really like Jacin, but he’s a lot more likeable in this installment then he was in Cress). Every character get’s their own time to shine in badassery, and I thought that was really great. I found some of the things Meyer put a few of the characters through unnecessary, that had little to no plot payoff so I don’t really understand why they were thrown into the book, but minor complaint to some great character arcs in this installment.
So, I realized my problem with Kai wasn’t that he was bland, it was that he had nothing to do in the story. In Winter he has plenty to do, and when he takes an active role in the storyline he’s really fun to read. Cress and Thorn are still adorable, I still adore Wolf (though what they put him through in this book was soooo uncalled for) and Cinder’s character arc comes to a natural conclusion you’d expect. I am probably in the minority, but I always love Iko and she doesn’t disappoint in this final installment, either.
My major character problem though? The Lunars! Levana is so one note in her motivations, all of the Lunars are so over powered and the one sided-ness of the confrontation is just so frustrating. The final battle plays more like a final boss fight in an RPG: Go to the final room where the boss is waiting, alone on her throne, have a spirited conversation about your contrasting ideals, then time to fight! Honestly, the way Levana was taken down was so vague, and the fact that it just went to another chapter and they had Kai go “Yep, she’s dead” was another reason I banged my head against the wall. But this is more a problem with Levana I have that I will go into in another post because I have a looooot to say about it.
Typical Meyer fair. If you’ve read the first three books, her writing has gotten a lot better from Cinder, but has stayed the same as in Cress. Other than what I mentioned above, the actual writing style didn’t really bother me.
When I got halfway through this book, on Facebook I posted “I’m not sure if I’m finishing this book because I’m genuinely interested, or because I just want to be done with the Lunar Chronicles” and I still can’t figure out which reason is the reason why I wanted to finish this so quickly. It’s needless length, when the other three entries in the series were so much shorter, just felt like Meyer bit off more than she could chew and was like “Crap, I need to introduce Winter, and finish the story? Uuuum ok this is going to take a while”. Does this book suffer from the same issues that plagued the prior three in the series? Maybe, and I just couldn’t tell because I read the first three books in a row, and waited a month to read Winter because I knew it would be a long ride. I can’t critique Winter without critiquing the rest of the series, and in all honesty the only book in the series I enjoyed all the way through was Scarlet. The ending of the book just…ended so neatly. It was so jarring and even though there was a big gory battle, the after effects of it were just “Welp, we lost, no more opposition on our end”. I know the book was already 800+ pages, but seeing more of a realistic reaction to Cinder’s Revolution would have been nice.
All in all, it’s a fairy tale retelling done right. Everyone gets a happy ending, which is a major pro, and a major con, that once again I am going to go into in more detail in another post. I know I’ve been ragging on Winter hardcore in this review, but overall I did enjoy the read and if you’ve already read the first three books in the series, you’re going to want to read this one. A part of me wonders, though: How would this story have fared as a standalone novel? Because I think a lot of my issues would have been solved by condensing a lot out of the last two books.
I’d recommend reading this series if you like fairy tale retellings. In the end, I enjoyed reading the series. Would I read it again? Probably not. There were too many times I was yelling at the characters to move along, or talk something out they were pointlessly hiding because plot tension, or getting frustrated that the Lunar Court was so over powered. I always say I prefer character development and good characters over plot, but there was just so many plot holes in this book I couldn’t ignore that took enjoyment away from me.
Little fun fact: Marissa Meyer used to write fan fiction, and this one is basically the Lunar Chronicles in 25000 words. There’s an interview with the Audible narrator and Meyer at the end of the audio book and she mentions she almost added Puss and Boots as a fifth book, so I found that super amusing. Her fan fiction is really worth a read, if only to see how her writing has evolved (or stayed relatively the same, you be the judge).
I know my opinion is in the minority, and a lot of people really liked Winter. Would love to hear what you thought of Winter, and The Lunar Chronicles as a whole in the comments! I’ll probably be doing a write up of my thoughts of the series as a whole, and hopefully that will be better than my ranty reviews of each individual book XD