Winter: The Lunar Chronicles, Book 4

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
Winter: The Lunar Chronicles, Book 4 Book Poster Image
Popular with kids
Blockbuster finale to addictive sci-fi fairy-tale series.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 22 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers can look at the original Snow White tale and see how this series plays with it, just like Book 1 played with Cinderella, Book 2 with Little Red Riding Hood, and book 3 with Rapunzel. They can also think about what life on the moon would really be like. There are details on domes, mining operations, and how trees and wildlife were imported from Earth but nothing on how the moon got water.

Positive Messages

Loyalty to friends and bravery are key in this finale. There's a look at discrimination from many angles. Those labeled not human enough (cyborgs), not Lunar enough (those without gifts to manipulate others, those genetically modified to be unthinking soldiers), or not elite enough (lower classes forced to work for little in outer sectors of Luna) finally get their say. And as in previous books, Winter shows how wielding a great power over others can make some evil and some reluctant to use it.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Out of all the strong girls in this series -- Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress -- Winter doesn't first appear as if she has strength. But she demonstrates a strong character by not using her Lunar gift of manipulation against others. Though the suppression of her gift makes her go slowly mad, she still manages to use her power and influence for good. Cress is less swoony and naive in this one and works hard to find her heroic side. Her amazing hacking abilities help. Cinder and Scarlet remain strong characters until the end. Cinder doesn't shy away from her role as leader.


A whole moon must go to war before book's end. It's a nastier business with scary, genetically enhanced soldiers that partially eat their enemies and enemies that can control minds and make whole waves of oncoming opposition turn on each other with guns and knives. Many, many dead. Numerous times friends turn on friends and stab or shoot them because their minds are being controlled. Wounds are serious and almost kill main characters. People are shot in a town square at random, and a woman close to the main characters is made to break her own fingers before being shot. Main characters are taken prisoner and tortured; one loses a finger and is kept in a cage for Lunars to look at. A disease kills a handful quickly after it's unleashed as bio warfare. Heartless onlookers watch executions in the throne room. There's a near-drowning and a wolf killed. A forced kiss by manipulation.


There are four couples, and all have their big, passionate reunion-kiss moments, but it never goes beyond that. Talk of "companionship rooms" in the palace.


"Hell" and "damn."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Queen Levana has a glass of wine. Otherwise, what everyone is drinking at all these Lunar galas is never really mentioned.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Winter is the finale of Marissa Meyer's bestselling Lunar Chronicles series that features major sci-fi twists on well-known fairy tales. You'll need to read the first three -- Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress -- to keep up. Reading the prequel Fairest, written between Cress and Winter, isn't essential, but it definitely puts the motivations of evil Queen Levana of Luna (the moon) in perspective before readers dig into this Snow White reimagining. All of Luna is at war by the end of this 800-plus-pager. It's a nastier business with scary, genetically enhanced soldiers who partially eat their enemies and enemies who can control minds and make whole waves of oncoming opposition turn on each other with guns and knives. Many, many end up dead. Numerous times friends turn on friends and stab or shoot them because their minds are being controlled. Wounds are serious and almost kill main characters. There's also a near-drowning, bio warfare, and people shot at random in a town square. Each of the stories adds a fairy-tale couple, so expect four passionate-reunion-style kisses and a few other smooches mixed in. All female characters remain strong and at the center of the series. Even Winter, the new female hero here, who at first seems like she's too much weakened by madness, shows that it's caused by her strong resolve not to use her Lunar gift of manipulation against others; she'd rather have reoccurring violent hallucinations than be like her stepmother, Levana.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byabbacus January 24, 2016

Phenomenal non-stop thrill ride!

The series is out with a bang! This book was full of crazy, edge-of-your-seat adventure! So much fun to read! It's definitely my favorite of the series. A... Continue reading
Adult Written byPandaGirl557 January 10, 2016

The Best Book Ever

I love this book! The plot line is so suspenseful, and so excellently written. Marissa Meyer's fairytale retelling is amazing. I love the way she applies... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written by1PandaBear1 December 3, 2015

Not one of Merissa Meyer's Finest

I was so excited when I first heard it came out, I even counted down the days before it came out. I was so disappointed. I really wanted to like it, I really di... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byjrceraso January 24, 2016


This is a great book! It has some violence, but apart from that the content is appropriate.

What's the story?

Evil Queen Levana does not take kindly to watching her groom, Emperor Kai, get kidnapped on their wedding day. She immediately launches all-out war on Earth and attacks Kai's palace. Kai and his friendly kidnappers -- Cinder, the rightful queen of Luna; Cress, an expert hacker; Captain Thorne, an ex-thief; and Wolf, an ex-special operative in Levana's army -- must think of a plan fast. It involves getting Kai to Luna for a wedding and coronation do-over and sneaking Cinder and friends onto the moon in the process. Cinder hopes revealing herself to her people will start the revolution needed to end Levana's reign, save Earth from ruin, and save her friends in the process. Their friend Scarlet, taken weeks before by the Lunars, is held in a cage in the palace. She'll need more than her friends' help to get free. She'll need Winter, Levana's beautiful and mad stepdaughter whom the queen jealously despises more than anyone else on Luna or Earth.

Is it any good?

If you're a fan of the Lunar Chronicles series and of massive, epic endings, then expect this 800-page-plus finale to really satisfy. With that many pages in WINTER, expect no subplot to go unexamined; no romantic interlude to go by without a hearty amount of swooning and intensity after couples are reunited, separated, and reunited again; no battle scene without some serious slo-mo mind-control bloodshed and gravitas; and no wedding gown in a throne room to go unbloodied. You get the idea. Big, sweeping stuff.

For readers who don't like both the sci-fi/action and romance pieces equally, you may find yourself overwhelmed by one or the other. Even fans of both will find a moment or two thinking they wish Cinder would just storm the castle already. But it's all good, careful storytelling and it all intertwines beautifully in the end. Happily ever after, of course.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how each story in the series resembles a fairy tale and ways that it doesn't. How is the Winter character like Snow White? Who is supposed to represent the dwarves? What does author Marissa Meyer use instead of a poison apple?

  • For fans of the romantic angle: Which is your favorite fairy-tale couple? Why? Which other epic romances do these love stories remind you of?

  • For fans of the sci-fi: What do you think of the author's vision of Luna? What other societies does Luna remind you of?

Book details

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For kids who love fantasy

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