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Series: Yes, #4 in The Lunar Chronicles
Release date: November 10th, 2015
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends (Macmillan)
Length: 832 pages or 23 hours, 30 minutes
Source: audiobook ARC (ALC?) from the publisher
Rating: WINTER IS HERE
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 was basically my thought process for the first, like, six hours of the audiobook, which I listened to in one obsessive binge one afternoon.
BECAUSE OH. MY GOD. There’s really nothing I can say to sell you on this series; if you’ve read Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, then you’re already frothing at the mouth for Winter. It’s like me trying to explain why Christmas/Hanukkah/your birthday/WHENEVER IT IS YOU GET PRESENTS is worth anticipating. You’re already anticipating it. You already know the deal. You already want the precious. IT IS THE LONG AWAITED WINTER, AND WE ARE TIRED OF BEING SWEET SUMMER CHILDREN, AND WE WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS TO ALL OF OUR PRECIOUS SPACE BABIES. IT HAS BEEN SO LONG SINCE WE CHECKED IN ON OUR PRECIOUS SPACE BABIES, WHOM WE LEFT IN SUCH DIRE SPACE STRAITS.
(The book does a pretty good job of catching up on the major plotlines that are going on after Cress, though I’ve got a pretty good memory and remembered most of it, so idk if maybe you’ll want to read a recap or reread the whole thing.)
|The audiobook cover|
The revolution is coming. Cinder and the rest of the Rampion crew, which now includes the “kidnapped” Emperor Kai, have a plan to oust Levana from her throne, and it involves the impossible: infiltrate Luna, Levana’s icy, impermeable, desolate nation on the moon. The stakes are sky high (and literally higher), and the board is set, and ALL HELL IS ABOUT TO BREAK LOOSE.
On Luna, in the glittering palace/prison of Artemisia, is the lovely and bugnuts crazy Princess Winter, the Snow White parallel who is the most beautiful girl to ever girl, and whose refusal to use her Lunar magic of mind control and glamoring has caused her brain to turn on itself. She has super strong visions, like that the walls are bleeding or she’s turning to ice, and it adds a great and disturbing dimension to her POV. Her thoughts are floaty, and lyrical, and not quite of earth, which is pretty perfect for a mad moon princess.
There is SO. MUCH. GOING. ON. IN. THIS. BOOK. That’s a good thing, by the way; Meyer is keeping a LOT of balls in the air, and somehow they all stay up there. Even with the hefty 800 page length, the tension remains (even if the pace suffers every now and then, though I fully attribute this to the fact that I marathon audiobooked this and it is TWENTY-THREE HOURS LONG, compared to how quickly I probs would have read this in paper). But seriously, with at least ten viewpoint characters to follow (Cinder, Kai, Thorne, Scarlet, Wolf, Cress, Iko, Winter, Jacin, and Levana), each with their own shifting storylines that constantly intertwine and diverge…OMG HOW, MARISSA MEYER, YOU DARK WIZARD?
I once said that Meyer doesn’t do characters, plotting, or world-building the BEST, but she does each one so SOLIDLY and COMPELLINGLY that it’s like…the sum of the parts is more than the whole. (Which sounds like damning with faint praise, but I promise you it isn’t.) A mega complicated series that could have gone wildly off the rails in this final book stays tightly controlled, with the stakes slowly ratcheting up and worst case scenario following worst case scenario. Our heroes are tested over and over, and I honestly wondered almost every time how in the hell they were going to make it out. I mean, they couldn’t all die NOW, with fourteen hours left in the audiobook! I mean…could they?
It’s a great author that makes you wonder that.
This is the Luna book. We get to see a lot of the queendom on the moon, namely how entirely messed up it is, with its shades of District 12 contrasted with Capitol opulence. Levana is HORRIFIC in this book. Brilliantly, psychotically horrific. She’s not a villain you love in spite of her awfulness, or whose motivations you maybe understand (at least, no more than a tiny bit). No, Queen Levana is the straight up worst, and you want her to die slowly and in desperate pain.
Just be prepared for your stress levels to shoot up and down a LOT through Winter, through mad escapes and daring flights and gun battles and revolutions and midnight skulking and drowning and dismemberment and stabbings and betrayals and rescues and OH MY. And then there’s a MOCKINGJAY MEETS MULAN MOMENT (YOU’LL KNOW IT WHEN YOU SEE IT) AND IF YOU CAN REFRAIN FROM FIST PUMPING YOU ARE STRONGER THAN I
Small teaser: one of my favorite scenes is the one between Kai and Thorne talking relationships. Apparently I could read a whole book of Kai and Thorne chatting like they host a morning talk show for man feelings. I was squealing like a piglet, I swear. TBH, I'd thoroughly enjoy an entire book of Thorne being Thorne.
The reason I supermega love this series is the characters. I just care so much. Thorne is my forever precious bby. His and Cinder's friendships GIVES ME EXCESS FEELS. MY LOVE FOR JACIN CLAY CAME ALL OF A SUDDEN, BUT STRONG IT CAME. Super loved getting to see him and kooky adorable crazy as a bag of cats Winter, who is absolutely endearing. Scarlet remains perfection. The friendships in this book. I love the ships, but also...THE FRIENDSHIPS. Scarlet and Winter bonding together, the crazy princess and the farm girl who is so resolutely sane...Thorne and Cinder, oh my god, feels forever. Iko and Cinder. I just care about these people SO MUCH.
And then there are the ABSOLUTE HELLA AWESOME KISS SCENES. Like, I bookmarked the tracks those kisses were on and listened to them each about five times.
The swoon amps are turned to eleven.It is swoon central. I space ship it. I space ship it all. It is a ship-a-palooza, and I will go down with these ships. All of them. ALL OF THE SHIPS. My top fave is still Cress/Thorne, but omg Wolf/Scarlet are perfection in this book. Like, I always shipped them, but they reached epic levels of EPICNESS in Winter. And let me tell you, Jacin/Winter…well, I didn’t know in Cress whether I’d ship them or not, never having seen them interact, but oh yes, I have boarded that space ship, fly me into the sun and let me burn with this ship
I do think, in one or two emotional places, the book could have gone deeper, really exploited those tragedies for maximum character development. Then again, the book is nearly nine hundred pages, so like...when would she have had the time, really. But people do seem to get over the deaths of their loved ones a wee bit too easily in Winter, but then again, it's war, and the clock is ALWAYS moving in this book. Seriously, how does she achieve this pacing in a book the size of Anna Karenina?! (Highlight for spoiler: also the animal death WAS REALLY REALLY REALLY SAD TO ME. SO.)
Also I have to say THE FREAKING ENDING CLIMAX IS. JUST. I JUST. I WAS BREATHLESS WITH STRESS AND AGONY AND EVERYTHING IS TERRIBLE OMG BUT ALSO AWESOME BUT HOLY SHIT THE TENSION LIKE IT KEPT RAMPING UP AND EVERYONE IS IN SUCH PERIL AND AHHHHHHHHH and that's all I'll say but omgggg I have ulcers
My one minor critique of the book is so very spoilery that I'm not even going to mention it, because it has to do with the ending and what happens after, so *locks lips and tosses the key into space*
I am a total audiobook newb. Before Winter, I’d actually never finished an audiobook in my life, for a multitude of reasons including a short attention span, a propensity for compulsive multi-tasking, an inability to focus, and the curse of being easily annoyed by the sound of people’s voices. But when I was offered a chance to listen to Winter two weeks early, there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in space I was going to say no to that. Even if it was an audiobook. And clearly, I had no issue listening. I was so into the story, so excited for this book, because I have DONE MY WAITING, TWELVE YEARS OF IT, IN AZKABAN.
I must say I really liked the narrator’s voice, though I was initially wary. Sometimes the narrator’s “male” voices were hilariously faux-husky (I laughed out loud when Wolf said in a passionate whisper, “Scarlet. Scaaaarrrlet” like he was trying to cough her out of the back of his throat). There’s a random Lunar guard with an Irish accent I have a few questions about, and the narrator's Australian accent is downright abysmal, but she narrated with a lot of personality and a lot of distinction between the many different characters. This book is a tall order to narrate. I think my favorite voice of hers was Levana. Her viciousness was on point. Winter was charmingly fluttery and kooky and sing-songy, and it made her super endearing.
To be honest, the narrator had a tendency to make the girls too fluttery, bordering on the pathetic, and the dudes too husky. I was of a half-mind regarding her Scarlet, who spoke with a thick French accent I wasn’t expecting but had a righteous amount of Benoit sass. (Seriously, Scarlet for president.) Only Levana and Cinder sounded close to how I hear them in my head, and minus her Australian accent, her international accents were pretty good.
The audiobook ends with a charming interview with Marissa Meyer (including the tidbit about the short story collection, Stars Above, and the fact that it will have a two years later EPILOGUE!!!!!!!!!!!!!1!!!11@#^&$%#^ (centered around SPOILER) (You’ll have to listen to the audiobook to find out what that SPOILER is) (or bribe me with Captain Thorne in a box or something)
A select few non-spoilery quotes:
(Thorne) looked at Winter, and there was an edge to his expression, like he didn’t trust anyone who was more attractive than he was.
Cress gaped. Twenty-four girls. She didn’t even know twenty-four people.
Winter was a well-loved princess who was prettier than a bouquet of roses and crazier than a headless chicken.
“I don’t hear anything.”
“Exactly. That’s what happens when you stop talking.”