Review: Winter by Marissa Meyer

Winter Marissa Meyer The Lunar Chronicles
Winter Marissa Meyer Cover The Lunar Chronicles

Title: Winter 
Author: Marissa Meyer 
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #4 
Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Retelling, YA 
Publication date: November 10, 2015 
Rating: ★★

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.

What did you bring me today? 
Delusional mutterings with a side of crazy?

This will be a long review. I need to get a lot off my chest. I’m angry and I'm disappointed. I can’t express how much of a bummer this entire experience has been. I was so ready to love this. You have no idea. Up until Winter this series had been amazing. Love is blind. Maybe I was oblivious to all the flaws before or maybe (and this is much more likely) Marissa Meyer was incredibly rushed to write the book, became pretentious, tried to include too much, ignored what her characters were really like, focused on drama, forgot what a good story looks like and fell victim to plot convenience and wishful thinking.

Yes, I’m harsh. It’s what reading this book felt like to me. It’s incredibly bad. Had this been the first book in the series, I’m not sure I would have finished. The ‘aftermath’ is the only part I truly enjoyed. Here’s what I didn’t like about everything else. (Includes spoilers)

  • The revolution. 

This is the book where the final moves are made. Cinder is going home to claim what’s hers by right. And she’s really convinced and really badass and- I didn’t believe it. Not any of it. Clearly Meyer had taken a page out of the ‘Mockingjay’ playbook, but that’s not even my main issue here. Cinder’s revolution is entirely built on a few pretty (but mostly empty) words. That’s it. Her plan is to go to Luna, show a little video of her saying ‘hi, I’m your lost princess and you should fight for me’ and BAM – revolution. Who wouldn’t fight for a pretty girl saying she’s the princess, right? Ahum. Excuse me for not buying it.

  • Plot holes and plot convenience (*cough* laziness) 

The book is full of it. Things that were far-fetched, solutions that shouldn’t have worked but miraculously did, characters doing things in ways that didn’t make any sense except for plot convenience. 

e.g. Cress is a great hacker. She can set up some easy instructions for Cinder to broadcast her I’m-your-princess-and-you-need-to-fight-for-me video all over the country. But when she needs to show a video about Levana a couple of weeks later, she suddenly needs to be inside the palace to do it. Why? I can think of no other reason than that she needed to be there so she could get caught so she could be used against Cinder. 

e.g. Winter is ill. Winter needs to be in a special sort of containment tank if she wants to survive. However, the people surrounding her insist that the tank should be placed outside. And not just outside, she needs to be in a place where everyone can see her. Why? Well obviously not because Cinder would spot her when randomly scanning through some video feeds. Obviously because it’s better for her health. Who puts sick people in a hospital anyway? 

And I’m not even starting on Iko’s chip and the lost data.. Or the case of Jacin’s parents.

  • Inconsistencies

Meyer was not consistent in the rules she set up. The main example is the new race of ‘wolves’ she created. The kind that went through extra genetic modifications. The men that aren’t men at all. The creatures that live on animal instincts and can’t be reasoned with. The ones that will tear your heart out if you get too near, enemy or ally alike. Bred for war. The ones that even thaumaturges can’t entirely control. Except when you’re Winter of course. A few pretty words and BAM, the wolves change allegiances. Why? Because Winter is pretty and prettiness solves all. OBVIOUSLY. I mean, there were a few ‘we are going to eat you, little princess’ along the way. But really, who believed any of that? Not me, that's for sure. Big bad uncontrollable wolves get convinced by a pretty face and pretty words all the time.

Same goes for Wolf. My dear, precious, lovely Wolf. Levana puts him through the genetic modifications. They disfigure his body to give him the special wolf characteristics. And that’s just the outside. He won’t be our beloved Wolf anymore. He’ll have changed into a predator, with an uncontrollable lust for blood. Hardly human. Doesn’t remember who he is and who his friends are. So what will happen with him and Scarlet? This was one of the few things I actually worried about. But Wolf saw Scarlet and it was just as if nothing had happened at all. Aaaah, the power of true love. He sees her and BAM – instant recovery. Well ain’t that sweet?

And then there’s Winter. Who’s been mad for years because she refuses to use her glamour. She refuses and refuses and refuses.. until she doesn’t.

  •  Flat characters

I loved basically all characters in the previous books. And she ruined them all. Not because she put them through huge changes, but mostly because they were really, really flat. They became interchangeable. Cinder could just as well have been Scarlet or Cress at some point if hadn't been for the leg-thingy. The individuality they once had got lost somewhere along the way. Same goes for the guys.

I hated how Meyer avoided interaction between the couples. She kept separating everyone so she wouldn’t have to deal with romance. The second book where this is the case, I might add. It was basically the same in Cress. But there it didn't bother me as much, but when she did it again, it became clear that it's because she wouldn't know what else to do with her characters. I didn’t need big make-out sessions or dramatic proclamations. It was just too obvious that she was keeping them apart for – again – plot convenience. And I think it’s a huge part of the reason why everyone felt so very flat. She avoided emotions on many occasions.

  • Repetition

This book is way too long. And not because I don’t like long books but because she didn’t have enough material to fill it. Winter would have benefited from 200 pages less.

The entire book was more of the same. Levana or a thaumaturge gets his/her hands on someone, controls them and uses them against our heroes so they wouldn’t dare turn on her. YES, WE GET IT, THEY ARE EVIL AND POWERFUL AND THEY CAN CONTROL PEOPLE. But was there really no other way to solve things, you know, once in a while? If it was someone not-so-very-important they were probably going to get hurt, if it was someone important they would be all right. Yeah, yeah, we get it. This is all for shock factor, but it stopped shocking me after the third time. Sigh.

  • The final ‘battle’ / 'grand' finale

.. was a total joke. The plan was this: everyone goes to the palace at a certain time to overthrow Levana. “How?” “Well, we overthrow her!” “Why yes, but there will be thaumaturges who can mind control us?” “Uhh, yeah, guess we’ll deal with that once we’re there! Oh, but before we attack we should also give Levana a change to better her life. So we’re going to say that she has ten minutes to surrender.” “And if she doesn’t?” “We overthrow her!” “This is totally going to work. Brilliant plan, Cinder!” 
Ha-ha-ha.

OBVIOUSLY it didn’t work that way (not even in this book), so the back-up plan was to put a video in place that reveals Levana’s true appearance. When they do, her people turn against her and Levana suffers a mental breakdown – which makes her lose her power – and our friends win their revolution. Yay, all ends well!

Can we talk about how wrong this is? Levana was the big bad evil and she needed to be stopped. But they win their war by showing how ugly she is? Levana isn’t ugly because she’s evil. Her face is disfigured because her sister pushed her in a fire. Winter is a heroine and can get everyone to like her and do her bidding because she is pretty. Showing Levana’s ugliness makes even her own soldiers turn against her. Way to go, Meyer. This was once a fairytale, sure, but this is not the kind of message you want girls to remember.

AND THEN FINALLY, THE AFTERMATH. It almost made everything worthwhile. Almost.

Suddenly everything got back to normal. The real characters returned. There was Cinder’s strength and wit, there’s was Kai’s gentleness, Scarlets courage and sense of justice… Everything that made them so typically them. Everything I had missed. I finally felt at home in a book that had been shit for over 700 pages. The writing was different, too. If only the entire book had been this way. These were the only pages that could make me care.

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