Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Winter - Marissa Meyer (Lunar Chronicles #4)

Winter (The Lunar Chronicles, #4)Last month I read Cress because I thought Winter was coming out like three days later, only it wasn't.  So I had to have the agonizing one-month wait until it actually did come out, which was yesterday, November 10th.  So, obviously, I took the day off work to read it in one go.  Was it a good decision?  Does Winter stand up to its predecessors?  Well...

It was an okay decision, and while Winter was good, I don't think it was excellent.  I really enjoyed it, but it suffered a lot of the same problems as Cress did, but on a larger scale.

Winter is the conclusion to the Lunar Chronicles, which follow Cinder, a cyborg, as she discovers that she's actually a moon princess with mind-control abilities who has to wrest the throne back from her evil aunt Levana.  Along the way, she falls in love with a prince, picks up a bunch of sidekicks, and pretty much has to save the world.  Each book in the series adds a pair of main characters as a new fairytale-inspired couple: Wolf and Scarlet, Cress and Thorne (though Thorne first showed up in Scarlet) and Jacin and Winter (again, Jacin and Winter showed up before, but weren't main characters).  Winter rises to MC status in her titular book, but I don't think it was as well-done as Cinder and Scarlet's stories were.  Which comes back to the biggest issue I have with the series...

There's a lot going on.  It's not hard to follow, necessarily, but with 8+ main characters running around at the same time, it means that no one really gets the page time they should.  Winter probably gets the second-most page time in the book, after Cinder (who is really THE main character, let's be honest) but considering this book had her name on the title, I didn't think that Winter had a very prominent roll.  She's supposed to be Cinder's crazy princess cousin, who can't ever actually rule because she doesn't have any royal blood, and who has gone insane because she refused to use her gift for glamour.  There's some good background there, but because there's so much going on, Winter just doesn't get the same degree of development as the other characters because she came to the game so late--even her Snow White plot kind of gets lost in the fray.

While Cinder and Winter got a good amount of page-time, and Cress and Thorne probably got the second-most, Scarlet and Wolf once again got shoved to the side.  Scarlet's not even present for a large chunk of the book as she's still locked up in the menagerie as Winter's "pet."  Once she gets free, she and Wolf are reunited for a brief period--and then he gets taken prisoner and is completely absent for a long time.  Meanwhile, Scarlet gets sidelined by Winter, meaning that even after she re-enters the fray she's not really doing all she could be doing, except posing as Winter's sidekick.  This is disappointing, because Scarlet was such an awesome character in her own book only to be shoved to the side in the two volumes following it.

I have one other main complaint about this book, and that's its false climax.  Halfway through, there's a scene that really seems like it could end it all--except you know that it can't, because half the characters aren't there and there's still like 400 pages to go.  The "false climax" isn't in and of itself bad, because, hey, you've got 800 pages, and you've gotta keep the action going for all of them.  What is bad is that, after this big scene, it takes a long time for the action to get up and moving again.  It meant that, while I took the day off work to read this because I thought I was going to devour it like I did the first three, I didn't really need to; there are plenty of points like this, when the action just falls off and takes a long time to get going again, that would have made it very easy to put down this book and walk away.  I think this could have been fixed by some more alternating of the chapters, instead of having a big chunk of Cinder and then a big chunk of Winter at this point, which would have kept more suspense as we flipped from one character to another.

Finally, there was a plot thread that seemed like it was going to become prominent, but didn't.  It involved Adri giving up legal rights to Cinder, which made it seem like something all plot-y was going on, but...that never really came to fruition.  It just kind of dropped off.  That's a pretty minor thing in the grand web of plots that was going on, but it did stick out because everything else tied together pretty nicely.

Oh, and Luna really started to resemble Panem from The Hunger Games at some points, with a capital full of happy citizens who thrived off the labor of other, repressed sectors that all specialized on one specific type of industry.  Like, the rock miners (District 12) start the rebellion, and the lumber people (District...7?) join in, but the technology people stay mostly loyal to the Capital Artemisia.  I would have liked to see this avoided.

All of this complaining makes it seem like I didn't like the book.  I did.  I really did like it.  I thought it was a good, solid ending to the series, with enough rough and tumble-ness that it made it serious but without characters being killed off all willy-nilly, and with everything being tied up pretty nicely.  I don't think any huge loose ends were left hanging.  Meyer seems to have done a good job keeping track of all of them.  The writing was, as always, excellent, the characters were great.  I just feel like it got too big, and maybe some of the plots would have been better off if they'd wound up a tad earlier than they actually did.  Wolf and Scarlet, for example, got pushed aside because they were so very unnecessary for most of the book, and it might have made sense to just end their plotline a bit earlier.  Still, I did like this, and I can see myself reading it again in the future.

3.5 stars out of 5.

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