Princesses in fairy tales were often portrayed as maidens waiting for their prince. Even the most adventurous and cunning fairy tale heroines might not pass today’s ‘strong female’ test. But in The Lunar Chronicles they all do. Cinder, Scarlet, Cress and Winter all have moments of bravery. They make sacrafices, fight for the greater good and all bring their own skills to the table. And yet all the girls are different. You’ve got the sassy Scarlet, the socially awkward Cress (who has really come into her own since the last book), the practical Cinder, bubbly android Iko (who just like Thorne brights up any conversation) and the newest member to the team: the charming but dellusional Winter. Their badass moments are all done very well.
Each of the characters, Za’ev, Thorne, Kai and Jacin definitely included, have their own time to shine. You can see Marissa Meyer put a lot of thought in their qualities and strengths. While all the ladies are the strong females fairy tales have needed for a long time, none of their actions feel the same. Each character is very much their own, with their own view on the world and things to add to the table. You’d think that would be normal in a story, but sometimes in young adult novels some type of character can become a trope on their own. How many times have you felt you read a novel about yet another shy awkward girl (who loses her clumsiness while fighting) waiting for her prince to come? I think I’ve lost count.
In media a strong female sometimes means she constantly wears a mask. She keeps her fears hidden and finds it hard to show emotions. While Cinder can be like this, the other girls are usually not. They clearly have their flaws and Meyer knows this doesn’t take away from them being badass. In fact it’s their weaknesses that can make them strong, especially when they find so hard to overcome them. The best example for this has to be Winter. Yet these characters still feel like fairy tale persona’s. When an event in the novel mirrors that of the original story I always get a smile on my face. Meyer manages to twist the events and intertwines them into her story with verve. But don’t be mistaken and think she won’t bend the characters to her will. Upon reading I really had to get used to the fact that Winter is in fact a black woman in this. Probably because I take a little pride in the fact that with my pale skin and raven hair I could be the spitting image of Snow White. But it works in this. Although I have to say it’s ironic, because at first I imagined Levana as a black woman and then I read she was white.
Winter is a book that has over 800 pages but it never feels like it is. Although the story progresses quite a lot there are no passages that seem to drag on and on, but all the characters do get enough space to grow and have their own badass moment. Sometimes things would even happen a little too fast for my liking. The speeches Cinder has are well written, but would not realistically get her the goal she has in mind. Although that mostly does happen in the book. People in power (and also those without power) stand behind her ideas too fast. Sure, Marissa does write that they have their suspicions, but in sake of the plot they overcome them very fast. I do think it’s more fun to read that way, but it does not help with the otherwise realistic portrayal of fairy tales.
Whether you’re a person that likes a thrilling plot or leans more towards character development, The Lunar Chronicles has something for all. The last book is a worthy ending to a wonderful series that I recommend without a doubt. This last part manages to tie most lose ends. Even with so many characters that all get to tell their own story it’s not losing control. However this last book is more of the end to the series overall than a good retelling of Snow White. While the nods to the original fairy tale are there without a doubt they are a little overshadowed with everything happening to the other characters. But in the end every character has its place. Even Levana has a moment in which you see a peak of her motivations, before she decides to be her usual ‘charming’ self and you lose all the respect she just gained within a minute. This last book toys with your emotions like Levana toys with minds. In the best way possible. I compared Cress to watching an Avengers movie. This time it’s much more like watching a mini series. One for which I do hope they air reruns many, many times.