An Unpopular Opinion on Winter by Marissa Meyer | Review

Posted December 21, 2015 by Cristina (Girl in the Pages) in Books, Reviews / 30 Comments

An Unpopular Opinion on Winter by Marissa Meyer | ReviewWinter (The Lunar Chronicles, #4) by Marissa Meyer
Also by this author: Fairest, Heartless
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #4
Published by Feiwel and Friends on November 10th 2015
Pages: 823 •Goodreads

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?

I am an outlier. A black sheep. The reader who seemed to have missed the memo that this was an amazing, flawless, work of utter perfection. So I’m going to start with a disclaimer: I love Marissa Meyer. I’ve met her twice. I think her skill at writing fairy tale retellings is magnificent. Her characters have depth and feel like my own friends. I coveted the release of Winter. I dragged myself to Barnes & Noble after an eleven hour work day to buy it in person to ensure that I received a copy that was in pristine condition.

And then all of my hopes and dreams fell victim to something I never thought would impact the quality of this series: hype. I was sure I’d knock this book out in a week or less (which is quick with my work schedule). This book took me almost an entire month to read. It felt unnecessarily and excruciatingly long. At 800 pages, I was expecting an epic story, but I really got a lot of redundant internal worrying, repeated failed attempts to best Levana, and a sadly formulaic YA dystopian-society-rising-against-the-oppressive-aristocarcy novel (*cue the Mockingjay theme*). The (very) long and short of my problems with this book is that I was bored.

I think many of my issues with this book that I have are due to its falling into the stereotypical YA dystopian elements. Such as the “reluctant revolutionary” protagonist. I am personally tired of having YA protagonists who drag their feet about being the “chosen one.” I want to read about a protagonist who take a revolution by the bullhorns and owns it. I understand that there are moral dilemmas and stress and unfathomable responsibilities that come along with leading a revolution, but I wanted to see Cinder really embrace being Selene for herself. Also (DO NOT READ THIS PART IF YOU DON’T WANT ANY SPOILERS) none of the 8 main characters died. ALL of the couples came out relatively unscathed (except for poor, poor Wolf and my favorite love interest, who was genetically modified AGAIN to be the garish, monstrous looking solider more wolf-like then ever, who inexplicably can still be with Scarlet despite his brain now being like 99% animal…don’t even get me started on how MY FAVORITE SHIP IS THE ONE THAT SUFFERED). It’s another trend in YA war/dystopian/rebellion novels that irks me. If you’re going to make your protagonist miserable and reluctant because of how horrific war is, than at least follow through with the consequences. Sure, thousands of people died invading Artemisia from the outer sectors, but I’m not buying that all eight major characters would have realistically survived. This is an issue in many popular series (Harry Potter: Harry, Ron, and Hermione all survive, Hunger Games: Katniss, Peeta, and Gale all live, etc.) and I can’t wonder if it’s because authors fear killing off beloved characters. However, if you are writing a book about war and revolution, I think to really create an impact you have to be realistic about survival odds. (End of spoilery section).

Aside from the long, drawn out scenes leading up to the final battle that had me struggling for interest and the issues I took with the dystopian elements, there were aspects of the story that would cause me to perk up while reading and carry on. While Cinder disappointed me in this book, I loved seeing everyone else’s character growth. Scarlet is truly a warrior, and seeing her take command in situations where everyone else went to pieces was inspiring. The evolution of Cress and Thorne’s relationship was really sweet, and I found myself cheering during their interactions. I love the haunting aspects of Winter’s personality, and the “Snow White” elements Meyer tied into her story, such as her affinity with animals in the menageries, her fondness for apple treats (and how the classic poisoning scene went down) and I think Meyer very cleverly worked Snow White’s glass coffin aspect into Winter’s story. Snow White is my favorite fairy tale princess so I was glad to see the classically identifiable folklore elements were handled well, even if the dystopian elements were not.

At 800 pages, I think I can safely say that most readers were expecting a very climactic ending with a lot of closure. (No? Just me?) Once I hit the last 100 pages or so I was still holding out hope that this slow, slow read would turn around and wow me. No such luck. The final battle scene was really, really anticlimactic. It’s hard to describe without spoilers, but the final, inevitable confrontation between Levana and Cinder ended really vaguely, to the point where I had to reread several times and enlist the help of the internet to be really sure of what happened. View Spoiler » After the big, final showdown, there were many, many loose ends left (What happens with the shells? Are Kai and Cinder going to end up staying together? Are the relations between Earth and Luna reparable? Does Winter get over her Lunar sickness? How do Wolf and Scarlet carry on DESPITE HIS DEFORMITIES? I NEED ANSWERS).

Overall: Winter was first and foremost way too long. That fact aside, the Lunar Chronicles had so much to live up to that Winter just didn’t meet my expectations. After how twisted and intense Fairest was, I as anticipating something epic from the last installment in this series. However, what I read was a novel that while in no means terrible, lost itself in YA dystopian tropes. While the charms of the fairy tales the series takes inspiration from is still there, it really missed the mark with the whole revolutionary aspect. This book could have been half the length and still gotten its point across. Will I still read anything Marissa Meyer writes? Probably. Am I excited for the novella bind-up, Stars Above? Definitely. However, sometimes books that you think you’re going to love just really don’t live up to your expectations, and Winter was one of them for me.


Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Fairytale Retelling Challenge
  • Goodreads Challenge

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30 responses to “An Unpopular Opinion on Winter by Marissa Meyer | Review

  1. Sorry to hear that you didnt enjoy the book. But thats what is great about books- each book is different to each reader. This one is on my TBR, but I feel let off by the size of it.

  2. Ohh no. Sorry to hear you were disappointed with this one. I admit this whole series has bypassed me – and I’m not a big fan of fairytale retellings so it doesn’t particularly appeal to me on that level either, but I know how frustrating it is when you’re looking forward to a book SO much and it doesn’t stack up.

    And I’m totally with you on the needing character deaths when there’s a revolution/war involved!

    • It’s funny because I feel like I would’ve pegged you for a fairy tale retellings reader! What is it about them that you find off putting? I feel like lately a lot of them ignore the eerie, morality tale roots of true fairy tales and opt more for the Disney-fied version. Which is fine (I’m a huge Disney fan) but I feel like I’d like to see some darker, truer to the roots retellings!

  3. So sorry this book didn’t work for you. I didn’t mind the length. I love the characters so much that I would read them doing just about anything. 🙂 I also like things to end happily. I don’t really care if it’s unrealistic. After all this was just a fairy tale, right?

    Kate @ Mom's Radius recently posted: New Holiday Traditions
  4. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with being the black sheep. It’s actually a little refreshing to read an unpopular opinion on this book. I haven’t read The Lunar Chronicles yet, but I really want to just because everyone has been raving about it. Your review kind of serves as a reminder that hype is a thing and it is in fact possible I won’t love this series as much as everyone else (though you obviously adored the previous books in the series). Thanks for the lovely review!

    Lefty @ The Left-Handed Book Lover recently posted: Lefty's Lowdown: Thicker Than Water by Brigid Kemmerer
    • Thank you for the kind comment, Lefty! My intention is definitely not to turn anyone off to this series (it’s truly wonderful!) but rather to portray how I felt about the book itself honestly, rather than an installment in a series I love (I think it’s hard to judge books in a popular series by their own merit, sometimes). I would still urge you to try The Lunar Chronicles, there’s a lot of great things about them!

    • I really didn’t like Cinder’s plan to take down Levana either. I think it was too dependent on seeing Cinder take the “high road” rather than plotting a revolution. At the end when Levana “surrenders” I was just like, Oh No, I know where this is going…

  5. I’m so sorry that Winter deliver for you – especially for it being the last book in the series. That feeling is the worst! I think that crazy buzz and expectations can really do a book disservice…it certainly did for me and one of my most recent reads. All that to say, I feel your pain and hopefully Stars Above will renew your love for Meyers and the series as a whole. Wonderful review nonetheless^^

    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews recently posted: ARC Review: Truthwitch
  6. From someone who couldn’t even bring herself to get more than a few chapters into Scarlet, GO YOU for the unpopular opinion! This series does nothing for me, and I tried so hard to like it.

    • Scarlet was actually a really hard book for me to get into as well! Even though I like her a lot as a character, the book moved so slowly for me, not unlike this one. I did really enjoy Cinder, Cress and Fairest though which is why I’ve continued with the series.

  7. I liked Winter more than you, but I agree with you on a few points and definitely understand where you’re coming from on the others. It definitely felt too long. Like you, I was excepting something epic, not a bunch of hiding out, talking about the revolution but doing nothing, feet-dragging, etc. I was surprised that the book did end up feeling a little cliche dystopia but I tried to ignore it, but you mentioning it reminded me that it was an issue for me.

    Amy S. recently posted: Don’t Let the Hype Get to You
    • I think I just wasn’t prepared for it to feel so cliche-dystopian because I associate it more with the fairytale retelling and sci fi genre than I do with the dystopian genre. There was just so much hiding out and worrying for me that I was growing wary every time I picked up the book.

    • We have found each other! It’s such a bummer though because I love the series overall! However I really am surprised that so many people found little to no issues with it. While it’s by no means a bad book, I think that a lot of people tend to rate and review series ending books more on how much they love the series as a whole rather than the book as its own entity.

      • Jordyn @ J. Bookish

        Yeah that’s a great point. I really liked the series as well! I was on my toes the entirety of Winter because so much was happening and I was scared of who would die and at the end I was just still anticipating something that would make me feel the whole story. If that makes sense? But everyone got a happy ever after and I was like oh that’s convenient…

        • I totally understand! It’s like that sense of anticipation really never got resolved. Like I’m still stuck at the top of the roller coaster of the plot waiting for the drop, for things to really implode within the rebellion, and it never really did. I kept turning the pages waiting for something to shock or wow me but it never quite happened…

  8. Aw, I’m sad it disappointed you. D: I didn’t think it was perfect and I got a bit bored while they were holed up in the sectors just …. waiting??? GAH. But other than that I was 99% in love with eeeverything. <3 I adored Cinder's character development and THORNE AND CRESS WERE SO CUUUTE. Although Scarlet/Wolf will be forever my favourite OTP there. I would've liked more Iko. 😉 And I agree it wasn't realistic that everyone got through unscathed. I mean, I think the story was very satisfying…but a bit easy. 😛
    Thanks for stopping by @ Paper Fury!

  9. Ugh. Book hype is the worst! I haven’t read the Lunar Chronicles series yet, but it’s highly anticipated on my 2016 TBR. It is such a shame that Winter disappointed you, but at the same time, I’m glad I got to see an unpopular opinion about it. After seeing all the hype and raving about how GOOD it was, I have been wanting to see some criticism about it, so that I can lower my expectations a little.

  10. I enjoyed Winter, and actually rated it 5 stars, but I do understand your points. I think I was lucky to have the chance to read it in one day (I was sick), thus I didn’t have the time to concentrate on the boring parts, which, I have to admit, were present. I read the book right after it came out, but I still haven’t written a review and I doubt I ever will because I know that if I started to really think about it, my rating would likely change to 4 or 3 stars. This probably doesn’t make sense to most people, but I really, REALLY don’t want to lower my rating of a beloved series lol.
    Great review. 🙂

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