Marissa Meyer’s Winter was one of my most anticipated reads of the year. After acquiring an early copy from the publisher a few days pre-release, I dove in with abandon, excited to be back in the world that I love. Having just finished it, I wanted to get a review out before the euphoric feeling faded, and before I am tempted to begin the whole series anew…because, that was one thing that finishing this book made me want to do – start all over again. I cannot even tell you how infrequently that feeling strikes, the desire to immediately reread. It’s a very rare bird on several levels for these books, in all of their scope, were absolutely perfect reads for me. Everyone one of them.
I don’t want to go in to what happens in this book in great detail. The spoilers will be flying soon and you will see enough of those elsewhere. Rather, I want to give a highlight of the beautiful moments that pepper this book that will stay with me to another read..and there were many such moments, both high and low.
This is the book that everyone has been building up to – the one detailing the war. So, we obviously were expecting a battle with intense gravitas to it. But there are many grand questions that Meyer introduced from book one that had yet to be dealt with – a question of pestilence and disease with the Letumosis, a question of Classism with the Lunar nobles vs. the shells and of the Earthen’s apathy to their plight overall. There is also a question of Ethics with regards to the wolf soldier brigade; a conversation of genetic manipulation and neglect and cruelty. With Winter, the title character, Meyer also introduced a new idea to toy around with; an idea of mental health and how we handle those cases which may be at the choice of the sufferer. This is a book with a “bigness” to it, a grand scale of many possible ideas and resolutions, and everything is handled to the utmost beauty and quality. This is one of those series that reminds me of Harry Potter in both its execution and its ambition, and there is something very magical about that.
One thing that struck me immediately was the cause and consequence plotting to the characters’ actions. Every time one important decision is rendered an equally dire consequence is hefted into place. As such, it gives a high back-and-forth feeling to it, a weightiness to every decision and a severity to every potential choice. Bad things can happen very easily in this world but they are balanced by little moments of humor and bliss, scenes that momentarily heighten the heaviness of the story. But this is one of those books where the bad things are necessary in order to tell the story well. It’s a war, after all. It’s not a pretty subject. In battles things happen, and they happen in the most unexpected ways possible.
I am not saying that everyone dies…please do not think that. This is not the world of Westeros nor is Meyer its sadistic creator. Everyone in this book is a little damaged and no one arrives at the end unscathed, but we already knew that from the books leading up to this point. I am also not saying that this book is free of death because that would simply be untrue. I will not admit to a single thing other than this story, with all its twists and turns, may induce mental whiplash in many of the readers. The pacing of the story and the up-and-down aspect tore at my heart. The things that happen to these characters had their moments of torment for me. What I am saying is that finishing this book brought all of my emotions forefront and to the surface and now, on the other side of it, they hurt for the telling. My emotions hurt but it’s in the best possible ways thanks to structured plotting and narrative adept.
It’s good to see growth in many of these characters. With every book I develop a new favourite pairing. With this book my favourites were solidified and it was Thorne and Cress that rose to the top. There’s something particularly beautiful about Cress’s journey from an isolated captive to a self-possessed (yet still second-guessing) young woman. She really spoke to me in so many ways and her romance with Thorne is by far my favourite. Not to say that I don’t love everyone, Human, Lunar, and Android alike. But…when I think about development and I think about story theirs is the one for me.
I also appreciate that Meyer’s skill has grown with every book. At first I was simply intrigued by the promise of fairy tales in space. Then, as I went on, and the story got bigger (and the books doubled in size) I was taken by the depth of the story that Meyer shared with us, a story far beyond Once Upon a Time. I found myself invested in the world dynamics, in the plight of the poverty-stricken and in the mass amount of work that Meyer had ahead of her to tie up the loose ends. The last few years for me have been one of many questions – How will she handle this or that thing? How will she surprise me now? How is this going to end? The bigness to her story can go anywhere and, in many ways, you want her to tie it up with a pretty bow and hand it off to her readers. But she could do so many things to not get that ending there too, and that is the fear that is at the core of every Lunar Chronicle fangirl and boy’s hearts for the past year – will Meyer give us what we each want.
Well, I don’t know about everyone else, but I can say that for me it ended beautifully. And not so beautifully. And lovely. And tragically. And hopefully. And crushingly. So, there is that.
I don’t know what to do with myself now. I feel like a reread is in order as I am not ready to leave this world yet. I also feel like I missed so much of its detail and I want to indulge myself in those precious moments again. I cannot say enough about this book or this series other than they were each reads that I treasured with every fiber of my being and that I am sorry (and not-so-sorry) to see the series end. I look forward to the rest of Meyer’s writing career with gleeful anticipation.
5 out of 5 stars. With all my heart and soul.
– Follow the Reader –