Book Review: Winter

by Bridgette Mabuto– unspecified

Book: Winter

Series: The Lunar Chronicles

Author: Marissa Meyer

Pages: 824

Publication Date: November 10, 2015

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? 

Have you ever read a book, gotten to the end and wished there was more? Not because the story line didn’t come together well, but because you love the characters and story so much you just want to sit and read about them forever? That’s how I feel about Winter. As the last book in The Lunar Chronicles, it brought everything and everyone together, ending the story right where it should end. But I wanted more. I still want more!

For those who haven’t read through The Lunar Chronicles, I would suggest reading at least the first three books before starting on Winter. While Winter does have places where it explains briefly what happened in previous books, everything makes a lot more sense if you’ve gotten to know the main characters first. And, if you have the time, also read the novella Fairest that comes before Winter. Again, it’s not necessary, but it really adds depth to the finale.

Before getting to my review, let me give a brief summary of what happens in this book. Winter starts with some of the characters on Lunar, the moon colony, and the others preparing to return the prince they kidnapped at the beginning of the last book. The plan is that the prince will agree to marry the Lunar queen on the moon, in an effort to sneak the real queen and her rebel group onto the planet. Of course, everything goes horribly wrong, the group gets separated, people get hurt and plans fall apart.

Winter does something that very few books manage: Bringing together four distinct stories and tying them together effortlessly. There were a lot of characters in this book. There are the four heroines, their four love interests, the evil queen, her puppet, and a host of minor characters. And, their stories all needed to be completed in the course of Winter. Moving between the separate stories while keeping momentum is an amazing feat for Meyers. I never felt that one character was getting more attention than the others or that I was missing something.

However, as the name of the book suggests, it is about Princess Winter. After hearing bits and pieces about her for several books, we finally got to know Winter better. And I love her! She’s a genuinely sweet person who really cares about her people, even though she’s been forced into her situation by being adopted by her step-mother. I think Meyers painted her concern for the people really well, without being too heavy handed. Often, when authors want to portray a kind person, they go a bit overboard, but with Winter the way she treated people seemed natural.

Despite being a kind princess, Winter never seemed stereotypical. For example, Meyers gave her a mental illness that helps propel her story and deepen her character. This is one of the first YA fantasy and science fiction books I’ve read that has dealt with mental illness so pointedly. I really appreciate that instead of using an existing mental illness, Meyers decided to create her own, so no stereotypes were created around Winters’ struggles. Because Winter is struggling with this mental illness, but also uses it as a way to get what she needs, readers never really know how deep her illness runs. The vagueness in her situation is really one of the aspects of the book that kept me riveted.

Hand in hand with Winter and her mental illness is how her best friend, Jacin, deals with it. I think their relationship serves as a great example for how society should approach those suffering from mental illness. He recognizes that her issue is real and dangerous, but doesn’t belittle her for it. He still treats her with love and respect, but also takes care of her because he knows she struggles.

The relationship that Winter and Jacin has is one of my favorite in the entire Lunar Chronicles. While everyone else meets and falls in love within the series, Winter and Jacin have been friends since they were children. I think having them already in love, but having that love based on a deep friendship, was a great way to introduce us to them. I never felt that their romance was pushed. They both realized that what they had was forbidden and could be used against them, but still found small ways to show their affection. To me, these little moments throughout the book were much more poignant than any the other couples shared.

I could go on for a while about the other characters and their relationships, but I’m going to end my review with one last thought. In so many books, when the good guys win, things immediately change. Everything gets better, as though the good guys winning was all it took. However, in reality, change is never easy. I liked that at the end of Winter, the struggle to restore peace isn’t easy. Plans are put in place, but in the book, we’re only shown the beginning of these changes. While this is one of the reasons I wish I could read more, I can also appreciate that it gives fans a chance to imagine how things play out.

And maybe, hopefully, Meyers will decide to gift us with more someday!

Rating: 5/5