(The Lunar Chronicles #4)
by Marissa Meyer
Genre: fantasy, young adult, dystopia
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?
This is a very satisfying end to a book series but I still consider book number 3 (Cress) to be superior. Winter takes its sweet time to get to the point and end the antagonism of Queen Levana; by doing so it loses some of the fantastic momentum of the early chapters. You can only watch things blow up in our character’s faces so many times and not see it coming when they have a new plan in motion. It does give the plot a more realistic feel to have things go wrong since people don’t behave in predictable ways but perhaps less coincidences and needless drama would be fine.
The book does have a nice flow considering the length but I still miss the broader view of the world we deal with here. The Earth is divided into large sections, some ruled by kings, others democracies but all afraid of the Lunar people. This is some great stuff here and I hoped to see more of the reactions of the ordinary people and not the super narrow focus on our team and the few monarchs duking it out. It’s YA but that is no excuse to not do better.
“My point is that I am going to figure this out, like I always do. First, we’re going to find a way to get into Artemisia. We’re going to find Cress and rescue Cinder and Wolf. We’re going to overthrow Levana, and by the stars above, we are going to make Cinder a queen so she can pay us a lot of money from her royal coffers and we can all retire very rich and very alive, got it?”
Winter started to clap. “Brilliant speech. Such gumption and bravado.”
“And yet strangely lacking in any sort of actual strategy,” said Scarlet.
“Oh, good, I’m glad you noticed that too,” said Iko. “I was worried my processor might be glitching.”
I always loved the parts where we saw the ordinary people and how they lived, so I hoped to read more about it here. I got my wish to some extent but I still feel we spent way too much time at the palace. World building we do get is utterly fascinating but there are so many more stories to be told that I feel the focus on four romantic pairs does injustice to the author’s imagination. Yes, I like the romantic partners but they are not that amazing to hold the entire series up. No offence. I far more preferred them when they worked as a group or as allies and the romance took a back-seat.I like Cress and Captain Thorne the most though, so I gobbled up their interactions like it was my favourite candy – they have some of the best chemistry of the bunch. I’m frankly ambivalent about Scarlet and Wolf, Cinder and Kai, but also the new pair Winter and Jacin.
“It’s not proper for seventeen-year-old princesses to be alone with young men who have questionable intentions.”
She laughed. “And what about young men who she’s been best friends with since she was barely old enough to walk?”
He shook his head. “Those are the worst.”
Princess Winter did not really impress me – partly because she struggles with her mental disability all the time and appears the least useful character of the bunch but also because she’s more afraid of her shadow than anything else. I did fell sympathy for her and also understood why she’s like this, but she’ll never be a favourite character. Just look at Cress – she’s been just as abused and downtrodden but she grows beyond it and is truly an amazing member of the team. When Winter is paired with Scarlet and given orders to follow she’s a bit better, but most of the time I really did not find her that fascinating and I hoped to see more of other characters like Cress, Thorne, and Cinder.
“Thorne glared at him. “Whatever, Doctor. It’s just, when Cress thought she was in love with me, she was actually in love with this other guy she’d made up in her head, who was brave and selfless and stuff. I mean, he was a real catch, so who could blame her? Even I liked that guy. I kind of wish I was that guy.” He shrugged.
“Are you so sure you’re not?”
I also hoped to have the villains more fleshed out and that is what happened with Levana. I haven’t read the shorts story prequel to the first book of the series, so perhaps the revelations we get about her in this book don’t come as a surprise to those who did, but I was hooked by the glimpse into the past. I want to know more about Levana, I want to learn more about the way Lunars evolved into these powerful people. I also hoped to see more changes in the attitude towards cyborgs and androids but perhaps the author ended the book on the right note and left us to imagine the future to ourselves. All in all I really liked the book and think it is written well, but it is missing that something extra to make it a truly memorable read deserving of 5 stars.
“She hesitated before asking, “Do you ever think about the future?”
His expression turned wary. “Of course I do.”
“And … does it include me?”
His gaze softened in a way that made her pulse skip. Releasing the overhead pipe, he tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “That depends on whether I’m thinking about the good future or the bad one.”
Cinder shut her eyes and tucked her head under his chin. “As long as one of them does.”
If you liked the first book of the series – Cinder, you’ll like this one as well. The series is best suited for YA lovers and those who like their romance low-key but still interesting, and all who don’t mind science fiction elements in their books. I must praise the humour in the series though because this is its saving grace and crowning glory. I love the sarcasm and the bantering. I hope the collection of short-stories in this universe will fill in the gaps and answer some of my lingering questions, but I think the main books told what they were meant to tell and are just fine.
“Fear was a weakness in the court. Much better to act unperturbed. Much safer to act crazy, when in doubt.”