Friday, December 11, 2015

Winter - A Brilliant End to a Beautiful Series


Title: Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4)
Author: Marissa Meyer
Published: November 2015
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends

Goodreads Summary: 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?

What I thought: This book was a great finish to a fantastic series. I adore fairy tales and fairy tale retellings. I don't especially like dystopian novels, but this doesn't read like your typical dystopian novel. The fairy tale elements and the writing style lift this book above the others, it stands out. Meyer somehow introduces new characters each book, and still gives them all enough screen time and development to become main characters, and that's no easy feat with nine main protagonists. 

From this point on there will be spoilers.

Something I loved in this story was how much the characters had grown from when we first met them. Cinder accepts her identity and isn't ashamed of it, sometimes she even forgets she's a cyborg. Kai has gone from a prince to an emperor and understands what it means to lead. Scarlet has found bravery and courage after she thought she lost everything. Wolf has thrown off social prejudices and customs to be his own man. Cress is beginning to understand people and sacrifice, and what it means to put others above yourself. Thorne has learned he can be more, and that he does deserve love. Winter has found someone who loves her for who she is, crazies and all, and she has learned not to be ashamed of herself. Jacin is finally happy, and free to do as he pleases. Iko, has grown past her faulty personality chip, she isn't just an android, she's a person. 

One of the most fantastic things about this book is that it's not a glossy happily ever after for everyone. I mean, yeah, the main characters get their love interests, but they don't get out scott free. The final battle gives lasting scars. While Cinder gets off pretty well, this is probably because she is cyborg and most of her parts can be easily fixed, while others are not so lucky. Thorne is now missing two fingers which were shot off by Cress, and as a pilot that's not really something he can ignore. Cress was severely injured by Thorne, which has to give her some major trust issues and nightmares. Kai was forced to witness Levana's cruelty first hand. Winter has crazies that go to a whole new level, and Jacin has to deal with said crazies. And then there's Scarlet and Wolf. I'll go into more detail about them later. 

So, Levana's death was fan-freaking-tastic. Like that psycho needed to die. I was super happy when Cinder finally became queen, but even happier when she decided to make Luna a Republic. I think this really shows the authors grasp of politics and rulers. Cinder being the progressive that she is, would naturally take it one step farther, and help the people, because she herself understands what they feel. Living as a cyborg in a country that treats them as lesser citizens, and having seen the terror of the plague and outer sectors first hand, I think she understands that the people need to learn to govern themselves, no one should have power over an entire planet. 

Okay, now I would like to focus on a few characters. First Scarlet and Wolf. Not particularly sure why, but I find these two some of the most intriguing characters in the story. I love their connection and just the overall awesomeness of Scarlet's courage and determination. One of my absolute favorite parts of the book was Scarlet's interaction with the wolf-soldiers. Yes, she's terrified of them, but she's also an alpha and she knows what that means. One example of this was when a wolf-soldier growled at her, and she growled back. And then by the end of the whole plague fiasco she had them respecting her. All this because back in France she was able to see through the rough exterior of Wolf and treat him like a human. Okay, now to Wolf. Oh Wolf. He may be my favorite character, so the further genetic mutation he was subjected to almost killed me. I may have actually screamed out loud. I was horrified how could they do that to him, and then when Levana used him as her own puppet, my heart nearly broke. Here was a man who had lost everything as a child and been made into an animal, living only to do as his leader commanded. Until one day he met a fiery girl with red hair who thought he could be something more. And somehow he took back his humanity. And they took it all away again. Made him more of a beast than he had ever been before, instead of just on the inside, now it was the outside too. In the chaos of the battle he attacks Iko, shredding her outer skin and tearing through wires. But, no matter what they do to him, he still recognizes his pack. Somehow across the blood and terror he sees Scarlet and something clicks. Within moments of reaching Scarlet - his alpha and pack - his humanity returns. The link with the queen is broken because love and respect will always be stronger than fear. And Scarlet doesn't care that he's no longer handsome, or even human, because inside he's still wolf, and he still loves tomatoes, and he's still her pack. There was something truly beautiful there, maybe that family doesn't give up on you, and you can always count on your pack to be there. 

So, now (briefly) to Jacin and Winter. Wow. I LOVED Winter. She was fantastic. Her hallucinations were incredibly real to her, and really mirrored the state of Luna. The bleeding walls showed how corrupt and dead everything on Luna really was. The ice showed how breakable she felt, and how fragile the government really was. I really could connect to Winter, not because I have hallucinations, because I don't, but because I have anxiety. And to me, when it gets really bad, it seems real. It really feels like I'm going to explode, or die or catch fire. And I know it isn't, but sometimes that gets forgotten when things get tough. Just like Winter, sometimes I actually believe I am a girl of ice, and that this next breath may be my last. But there is always that person, or people that can just touch you and things are alright. For Winter that person is Jacin. The moment he's there, her hallucinations begin to fade, maybe not totally, but she is able to focus on something other than herself, and her own broken mind, and that is what changes things. But it's not just that Jacin brings her back to reality, it's that he understands who she is, and doesn't need her to change, he respects the choice she has made to resist her powers and instead be trapped in her own mind. He loves her for who she truly is. That doesn't mean that she won't ever have hallucinations again, just that it will be more bearable. I can relate to that. Being with family helps with anxiety, but that doesn't mean that it's gone, just that it's easier to bear when you have people on your side who don't treat you like you need to be cured, but who understand that this is who you are, and work with it.


1 comment:

  1. I keep forgetting to do ratings at the end of my posts....