Winter (The Lunar Chronicles) - Marissa Meyer Winter was an epic conclusion to the Lunar Chronicles.

Winter was a sweet, loving girl with dubious sanity. "She was prettier than a bouquet and crazier than a headless chicken." She refuses to use her gift because she knows that any kind of manipulation is just that--manipulation. I admire Winter because if you had such a gift, how difficult would it be not to use it, even just occasionally? Especially if the price was your sanity? I thought that her relationship with Jacin felt natural and real, and not at all like instalove since they'd know each other all their lives and both had crushes on each other, even if Jacin wouldn't admit it to her.

Jacin was not my favorite character. He spent way too much time smothering his emotions (though he had a good reason to) and I found that somewhat frustrating. I did admire his bravery and I felt that his hidden feelings for Winter was very real, unlike many of the couples in YA books. I guess part of the problem with Jacin is that we really only had this one book to get to know him, and if he'd been a more obviously likeable character than that wouldn't have been a problem, but because it took longer to get to know him, this one book really isn't enough. The Guard and the Princess novella in the Stars Above short story collection did help with this problem.

Cress grew a lot in this book. She became braver, and stronger, and, while she didn't have the full disillusionment from Thorne that I felt she should get before she could be truly in love with him, she did get a little bit of one, and that was enough that I could believe that what they had would eventually grow into real love.

Thorne, of course, is still daring and cocky and annoying. Even though I still like him for some bizarre reason. I thought that his realizing that Cress, the girl who he'd basically brushed off, was a sweet and caring individual, and I enjoyed his growing to regret his previous rejection of her feelings. It was nice to see him finally show some fear and drop his cockiness a bit, though he didn't lose his personality.

I felt like Scarlet was finally able to deliver on the promise of her being a badass. I really hadn't seen that part of her in the other two books, even though the author had tried to establish that she was one in the first book. Sure, she still couldn't outstrip Cinder in the badass department, but at least we were able to see her escape, save Winter, and show her excellent marksmanship. She was separated from Wolf for a good portion of this book, but their relationship still managed to develop quite a bit when they were reunited at the end.

I was so sad for Wolf. He went through the wringer in this book. being separated from Scarlet, finding his mom only to lose her for good, finding Scarlet, only to be separated from her again, and being put through the awful transformations that he'd so dreaded since being through the first one. I was so hoping they could undo the transformation, but alas. At least the victims of Levana's mostly wolf transformation still keep their minds, which surprised me because I thought that it was implied that they lost much of their personalities if they were put through that surgery, but I guess this book was the first one where we actually met fully transformed wolf-soldiers, much less had one of our main characters turned into one. I also loved Wolf and Scarlet's relationship development. In Scarlet it was instalove, in Cress I was cautiously optimistic it would grow to be real, in Winter I thought that it grew to a full relationship, worthy of being described as love.

Cinder. Well, Cinder is still, by far, my favorite character in this series. She didn't have as much character development in this book as in the others, but I did enjoy seeing her new confidence and lack of shame of her cyborg parts. I also really liked seeing her have to deal with the world without her built-in computer. I honestly think that the damaging of the computer made her a stronger character, and it was after her jump of the balcony that she had the most character growth this book. I admire her decision to dissolve the monarchy. In most books where this step is taken I generally feel like it's a trope, or even a copout from the author (because most authors live in democracies, they seem to want to ram down everyone's throats the fact that monarchies are often bad) but I really thought that it worked in this series. Far better than in most books, because there was a real, genuine need to for Lunar citizens to be ruled by more than just one person. I don't think that Cinder's relationship with Kai developed as much as I would have liked, but I still think that their crush/like/infatuations have a tendency to turn real, especially because they spent this entire book having to trust each other completely, all while not communicated with one another or having any idea what the other was doing to cope with the unfortunate deviations from their plans.

Kai is not my favorite character. He hasn't had all that much character growth from the first book, but he has had some. Like I said in my paragraph about Cinder, I don't feel like their relationship is real yet, but I do think that it can (and probably will) become more real as time goes on. Throughout the series, Kai has been planning to marry Levana in an attempt to bring peace, or at least a plague antidote, to Earth, even as he is fairly aware that his marrying Lavana would result in her world domination. I found it somewhat frustrating that he still had that plan in this book, but at least he was only doing it in order to distract Levana and help Cinder. I also appreciated the fact that he finally showed some open defiance to Levana, even though he still had reason to fear her reprisal.

I like Iko's character. Mostly. It's hard not to like her bubbly nature and love of fancy things, but I still find her somewhat difficult to identify with because she, in some ways, isn't real. She is a robot who's program was accidentally set to think she's human. Still, if I suspend my disbelief then I can really enjoy her character and the fact that she's the main cause of humor in these books (even more than Thorne, probably.)

Levana, of course, was as evil as ever. I don't think that Levana is right in the head. When you don't hear her point of view you can believe that she was just evil, but after reading Fairest, I came to believe that Levana had some wires crossed, which really makes me feel bad for her, even as I hate how evil she let herself become. Also, forgetting the fact that she's an evil-minded lunatic who wants to take over earth, can we all just feel how creepy it is that Levana is at least thirty-five years old and working to marry Kai who is, how old again? Seventeen? Eighteen? And before Kai's father died she'd been trying to marry him? I guess with all of her other nasty, evil, creepy, nutcase doings, it shouldn't be so bizarre that she was willing to do that too.

Overall I really liked this book. One comment, though, is that no characters that we loved died. The only (non-evil) characters who died were Ma'ha Kessley and Alpha Strom (and even throughout the whole series, only those two, Peony, Michelle Benoit and Doctor Erlend died,) and, while I liked those characters, their deaths weren't enough to really upset me. In most ways I'm really glad that all eight of our main characters survived, because I honestly can't think of any one of them that I'd be willing to part with, but there are two reasons why I feel at least one of them could've/should've died. The first is that I probably would have cried. I hate it when my favorite characters die, but I love it when I've become so invested in these nonexistent people that their nonexistent deaths make me cry, and when books make me cry I usually automatically consider them amazing. The second is that (and I learned this when comparing the Harry Potter series to the Key to Rondo trilogy) if there is a major battle, it doesn't feel nearly as real or dangerous unless a character you care about dies. If no one important dies then you can be told, or even shown countless, nameless or extremely minor character deaths, and the battle still won't feel dangerous, or like the main characters had to pay a big price to gain their victories. The fact that most of the main characters suffered devastating injuries to body and mind helped to bring a sense of danger and loss, but it still couldn't bring those feelings the way that the loss of a beloved character would have. Still, overall I am glad that all of our main characters survived.

Overall I thought that this book, and this series was amazing and I can't wait to read more books by Marissa Meyer.