A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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.
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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?
- Author: Marissa Meyer
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Topics: Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Book Characters, Fairy Tales, Great Girl Role Models, Robots, Space and Aliens
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
- Publication date: November 10, 2015
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 18
- Number of pages: 832
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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