My Review of Winter by Marissa Meyer
My summary: The final installment of the Lunar Chronicles, Princess Winter of Luna has hallucinations due to not using her Luna Gift of being able to control the minds and/or body of anyone she comes into contact with, supported only by her beloved personal guard. Her Step-mother, Lavana in in the final stages of her plan to marry Prince Kai of the Earth’s Commonwealth, and the characters we met in the previous three books: Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress (along with their bos and Iko) are trying to stop her by raising an army of the mistreated Lunars.
Why I picked up this book: I read the first three a while ago in the hay-day of when these books were popular, but I didn’t quite like them enough to pay for the hardcover of Winter, so I put it off until I could get a paperback version, which just happened now. I picked up the first book in the series because …well cyborg Cinderella. It was a cool idea.
What I knew going in: We had met Winter briefly in previous books, so I knew somehow she was not entirely sane, and that her OTP was a royal guard.
My response: I liked this series as a whole. The world building felt solid, the characters were rather likable, and the story was enjoyable enough. I liked the way she hit the beats of the girl’s respective fairy tales within the story. The only one that ever felt really forced was Cinder’s orange beetle (the car type) that she drove to the ball.
My problem with this series ended up being the powers that the Lunars had. As you read above, most (like 97%) of Lunars have the power of mind control. They can make you see anything they want or take over your body and force you to do what they want, and as far as I could tell there is no way for you to know you’re not seeing something real (without a cyborg implant which very few people have), no way for anyone else to know you’re being manipulated, and no way for anyone else to know someone is doing manipulation. The ‘limitation’ of the power seems to be distance and possibly line of sight. Oh and some people are better at it than others, but in this book the quashed, cast off workers are able to take control of their guards in order to start their rebellion.
I remember reading after the first book that the author wished she had not made the Lunar gift quite so strong. In the first book, there is not a lot of interaction with any Lunars using their powers except the Queen, who is just straight up evil, so I can see where she didn’t thoroughly consider the effects of an entire race having these powers. But the more we interacted with a society where basically anyone could do this, and there was no defense against it outside of being controlled by someone else, I just found myself in disbelief that there were not more insane Lunars trying to control everything. In fact, I’m not even convinced there could be an easy peace between the peoples as the solution at the end of the book is everyone having an electronic device installed in their spines as a protection against being controlled. /shrugs
I don’t know the extent to which the powers were specifically detailed in the first book, but I spent the last half of the book thinking: “She *really* needed to have limited these powers in some other way because it’s just too powerful and there’s even a severe downside to being a good person and *not* using them. At one point, someone without the powers admonishes Winter, the princess who is going insane because she doesn’t use her powers, that she should just make everyone around her see her hair as orange if she doesn’t want to affect anyone in a negative way. And that’s really it. The entire race is built on a foundation of “it’s just easier to use my powers to mislead people than to not.”.
Setting that aside, it made Winter an interesting character in that she was basically schizophrenic. And she still functioned fairly well within the world, and people loved her, and she made friends. I think that was a rather important message, though it didn’t hit me for what it was until the very end.
This was a good capstone to the series, and it wrapped up everything nicely, if not simply in true fairy tale fashion.
Do I recommend this book?: In spite of the above, I did enjoy this series, and I would recommend it. Just, if you’re too hard of a simulationist, be wary about the powers.