I've been reading Winter for a while, alongside The Crimson Petal and the White as part of the read-a-long at Lit Addicted Brit. That's partly why it's taken me such a damn long time to get through a YA fantasy novel, but it's also due to its 750 page length. As one of the YA series that I've actually manage to complete (and fairly speedily too), I have to admit that Winter is a fitting conclusion to the Lunar Chronicles series.
Plot 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?
First off, just let me say that this book is unnecessarily long. The other books are two thirds of the size and work perfectly well. I don't mind long books if it's for a reason, but in Winter the tension keeps sort of ebbing and flowing. The revolution finally happens, and it's all exciting and you reach the final boss battle... but then it all goes away again, only to start again in 100 pages. I wish that the author had just chosen a path and stuck to it.
Because of that, I never really felt any particular desperation to get back to reading this book when I'd put it down and when I did read it, I found myself getting distracted and faffing on my phone instead. That's not to say it's not good, but I feel that it could do with being a little faster-paced.
Despite my fears about not liking where I thought the story might go (it didn't, I'm fine), I thought it was actually a pretty fitting conclusion. Not as simple as it could have been, which I give Marissa Meyer full credit for. I've said it in my previous of reviews of this series - it's a good plot. There's a convulted political history and intricate delicacies that stop juuuuuuust short of being too much. You can keep everything straight in your head without feeling like you're being spoon fed. It's unique and interesting and I really like it.
I'm less impressed with her desire to have everybody neatly coupled off at the end, rambling about their love. They're sixteen to eighteen, Good Lord. I like Cinder and Winter's respective relationships, everybody else needs to read some Jezebel and get a grip.
Oh, Winter! I love everything about Winter. She's my favourite character, aside from maybe Cinder. Her purpose and her little quirks are so well-thought out and her background is perfect. And That Thing She Does Near The End just fits in with the plot so wonderfully neatly. Honestly, she might be one of the best, most unique things about the Lunar Chronicles series.
On that note, what's the purpose of Scarlet, exactly? I mean, she's fine, but Cinder, Cress and Winter all have purposes and unique personalities. Scarlet not so much. If anything, the second book should probably have been called Wolf, considering he contributes more to the story than she does, but I guess that would detract from the strong female role model-y thing we've got going on.
THE FAIRYTALE THING. I can't believe it's taken me this many paragraphs to start my fairytale rant. I've said it already in every other review, but I've reached new levels of irritation. IT IS NOT NECESSARY. Winter's fairytale link was so forced that I actually had to skip two whole pages just so I didn't have to see it happen. It reads like Ms Meyer had a vague idea of fairytale-dom in the first book and decided that she was going to carry it through, and just became stuck with the concept in later books.
I feel like I'm nit-picking here, but I think it's probably because I like this series so much. I know that sounds silly, but sometimes when something you love is so close to being perfect, it makes all the little niggles stand out more. This is a really good series with a fitting conclusion. It's maybe a little drawn-out and the coupled-up-ness is slightly irritating, but it's nowhere near enough to put a damper on my affection for these books.