Wednesday, December 23, 2015

look at her go: reviewin' reviewin': Winter

Winter by Marissa Meyer (Lunar Chronicles #4)



synopsis: (spoilers!) 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?

full review of this wonderful concluding novel of the Lunar Chronicles is under the cut! 

"Safety first, Scarlet-friend. We are fragile things." 

I don't even know how I can begin to write this review. I guess to write about the end, we have to go back to the beginning. Flashback to 15 year old me, just taking the first tentative steps into truly loving YA, stumbling across Cinder. 2012 was the first year that I truly found my stride with reading YA, and it was Cinder and also Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series that played a huge role in that. Cinder was a book that largely defined my reading from the first time I picked it up, and I will forever be grateful to that book and this series for making me fall in love with YA over and over again.

 I've read Cinder three times since then, Scarlet and Cress twice, and, upon the precipice of starting Winter, I was nervous. If you know me, then you have an innate knowledge of how awful I am at finishing series. (in looking at my shelves this minute, I can think of 5 trilogies off the top of my head with sadly unfinished third books) However, Winter is a book that I've been waiting for since Cress came out in early 2014, and I was not going to let my last-book commitment phobia stop me from finishing one of my favorite series ever. So, as my expectations, fears and hopes threatened to smother me, I dove in. 

And this book took me NINETEEN days to finish. For me, an eternity. It was finals and then packing and then traveling home for the holidays and then being busy with festive things and Star Wars and countless other distractions, but also that underlying panic of "oh my god I can't finish I don't want it to be over." And on the nineteenth day, I locked myself in a coffeeshop, said to myself that I was being ridiculous, and finished the last 400 pages in a matter of hours. And what a 400 pages it was. Simply, I could not have asked for a better ending for some of the best characters in YA, and I am so thankful and happy and content because of this ending. 

I guess instead of doing a plot discussion, because, well, that would be complicated and redundant and also, if you've read it, you know, I'll just talk about some of my favorite parts and why I love this book so much. 

~ Iko being the real MVP in every situation. I swear to god everything would've fallen apart if it wasn't for Iko. When she's basically falling apart in the battle at Artemesia palace and she just pulls herself up and goes running for Cinder because they are literally BESTIES forever? I just died. She's the comic relief, the self-sacrificial member of the team and also the bravest android ever. I love that she also held inside her the lunar dampening device, because that just made her even more important than she already was. I'm so glad that she will be staying with Cinder on Luna, because for sure Cinder needs that type of moral support. 

~ This is a long-ass book, y'all. But even though it is 820+ pages, that isn't the reason it took me so long to read, because I felt like any draggy parts were pretty nonexistent. I felt like the 800 pages were needed to wrap up a story this huge, with this many characters and plotlines, all diverging. Winter is a masterpiece, and I really mean that, because I feel that it is balanced and well-paced, as well as being exciting and heartbreaking and breathtaking in all the right places. All of these pages had a purpose, and I feel like there are no wasted words here. 

~ Just everything about Winter. She's beautiful and damaged: all the elements for a damsel in distress, but she has her own strength and intelligence, and though she needs other people, it is in a way that doesn't weaken or demean her as a character. It just goes to show that just because you have awesome female characters, they don't have to be all hard and strong all the time: they can have weaknesses and still be amazing. It is because of Winter's "weakness," aka her unwillingness to use her gift, that people want to follow and trust her. I love her and Jacin's relationship! I will always be trash for childhood friends who turn into something more. I also love her relationship with Scarlet, because I feel like it came at a time when both of them needed someone to depend on. I am really excited for Stars Above, because we're getting a backstory to Winter and Jacin!! 

~ When Kai LITERALLY STABBED LEVANA in the damn middle of their wedding ceremony!!!! like what??? that is some savage shit right there. And I like how everyone just kind of took it in stride like it was never mentioned again. little gems

~ also when Cress was hiding in the cabinet and then the guard and the programmer heard her and she just popped out and was like "SURPRISE! Wanna join our side?" 

~ Basically just everything with Cress and Thorne. How the heck did I go from being pretty ambivalent about them at the beginning of Cress to LIVING for them at the end of Winter? The part where they're sneaking into the coronation is my favorite part of the entire book. Thorne kissing that Lunar bc her glamour was of Cress and Cress being all jealous but then they just MAKE OUt in the MIDDLE of the mission?? AND he said I love you?? I was swooning. I adore Cress' imagination and her yearning for friends, and I loved her bromances with Jacin and Wolf, but the parts with her and Thorne just RUINED ME.

~ THE MISSING FINGERS CLUB. From the sadness and pain comes this hilarity. I so appreciated all the little pockets of humor in all of the action, I feel like that is what makes this book SO compulsively readable, despite its size and the fact that the stakes are so high for all of the characters. 

~ I just knew that they were going to have to expose Levana's glamour at some point, and I felt like the way they did it was SO SMART. But at the same time I was so scared for Cinder at this point, like she risked everything to get the video and she almost died and then she was all broken.... (another time that Iko came in clutch with the hand and the leg) I was so afraid, but so glad that they were able to get the video out. I honestly think that is the reason that they won the war. If there is anything that Levana is afraid of, it is herself, underneath everything. 

~ Speaking of Levana, this isn't strictly Winter-related, but I was so happy for the existence of Fairest when I was reading this book. Like, obviously, it's just a novella and you don't *have* to read it, but it helped me so tremendously with understanding not only Levana, but everything that Winter and her father went through, as well as the place and family that Cinder comes from. 

~ Let's talk about Wolf, I'm sorry, Ze'ev, and the BACKBONE behind him, the real hero: Maha. At first I was scared that Wolf's parents were going to turn him in and not help, but Maha ended up being the martyr that jumpstarted the revolution, and I'm just so happy that poor Wolf got to see her, spend time with her, introduce her to Scarlet, before she died. I feel so so terrible for Wolf like not only does his brother die in Scarlet and the love of his life gets kidnapped and presumed dead in Cress, but in Winter, his mom dies, he gets arrested by the queen's people, and then he is more genetically modified so he actually looks like a wolf. The ending was happy though, I hope we get to see Wolf and Scarlet living a calm, happy life in France in Stars Above. 

~ Wolf and Cinder are total bros/fighting partners. Like, to the point where in every battle, Cinder is like "where's wolf," "gotta do the thing that wolf taught me," "ugh wolf didn't tell me about this." And I LOVE IT. I love so much the platonic relationships in this book. Jacin and Cress, Wolf and Cinder, Scarlet and Winter, Thorne and Kai, Jacin and Thorne, Cinder and Thorne, Cress and Kai... I LOVE THEM ALL. I think Marissa Meyer has done something that many books that I've read don't do, and that is believably connect all of the characters in friendship. There is something to love about every single one of these relationships, whether romantic or platonic, and that is one of the major reasons that I appreciate this book so much.

~Jacin is so angry and so guarded, but all of these characters basically make it their personal mission to break him down, which he eventually does. I love him, in the end, because of how loyal and good he is, and also because of his stellar ability to nickname people. 

~ Quotes! "what are you doing here?" "just kissing my girl, didn't realize that was a capital offense around here." and "why do I have a bad feeling about this?" "you have a bad feeling about everything." and "she was trapped, Thorne was captured, but they had been heroic" and "she will eat your heart with salt and pepper" "well its half synthetic so it’ll probably give her indigestion" WOW i love them all

~Kai and Scarlet both are the bravest people in the world (besides Cidner herself) 

~ I basically am in love with Kai and Cinder together. Ever since the first book, they have been my number one OTP in this series, and though I love Scarlet and Wolf and Cress and Thorne and Winter and Jacin so much, Kai and Cinder remain my number one favorite. I lost a little bit of faith in Kai at the end of Cinder and into Scarlet, but he regained his position in Cress and especially in Winter. I really really hope they get married in Stars Above. 

~ Obviously the person that we truly need to talk about is Cinder. Cinder is dealing with everything that everyone else is, with the added knowledge that, if they win, she will then have to rule a nation, and if they lose, she will undoubtedly be killed. She is brave and true and resourceful, doing what she has to do to win and take back her throne, but also keeping her friends safe. She has come SO far since we first met her in the first book. I feel like we've come full circle, and I'm just so proud of her. 

So basically, I couldn't have asked for a better ending to one of my favorite series ever. I'm incredibly sad that it's over, but I'm so looking forward to Stars Above next year. What did y'all think about this book?


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