Winter (The Lunar Chronicles) - Marissa Meyer Actual rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Winter is the official conclusion of The Lunar Chronicles Series, though thankfully we still have Stars Above to look forward to. As a big fan of sci-fi as well as an admirer of Marissa Meyer's ability to weave futuristic dystopian themes and classic fairytales, I had this book pre-ordered as soon as it had a cover. Despite that, it took me almost two months to actually pick up this beast and plunge into its depths. The reason being? I simply wasn't ready to say goodbye to this cast of phenomenal characters. Even though I knew that they would likely all get their happily ever after, I didn't want their adventures to end - I didn't want to say goodbye. Eventually though, I couldn't hold out any longer: I needed to know how the story would end for everyone and to be honest, I lived in fear of being spoiled... so it felt right to make this book my first read of 2016.

While the beginning of the book was a bit slower than I was expecting, I knew that given the number of pages - and the fact that I was nursing a double book hangover - I just needed to be patient and things would pick up. And boy was I right! When things do start moving here, it is NON-STOP intensity and at over 800-pages, I was worried I wouldn't survive my nerves, the setbacks, the emotions, the serious violence and the SUSPENSE. Oh stars the suspense was masterful and nearly incapacitating! See, Winter takes place almost exclusively on Luna, which could only mean one thing: one hell of a ride. It was pretty brilliant that the last book in a series had a new world to explore and fresh world-building. Luna is majestic, opulent and alarming. More than once I was struck by how Luna was like shades of The Capitol in The Hunger Games whenever Meyers described the oppression, the surveillance, the tyranny and how the sectors lived in poverty and fear while Queen Levana and her court basked in privilege. As our heroes plotted their revolution, we'd get glimpses of how utterly complex their plan needed to be to succeed, given how elaborate and complete, Queen Levana's control over Luna truly is.

Where Meyers really shines is in her ability to keep adding new and compelling characters into the folds and getting them to team up and interact with the rest of the crew. Winter is no exception, introducing us to Princess Winter as well as really allowing the reader time to better know Jacin, which we'd previously met in Cress. Beyond those two (mostly) new characters, which I grew to love, we were treated to chapters from all our returning favorites: Cinder, Kai, Scarlet, Wolf, Iko, Cress and Thorne. I was amazed at how every character was given room to develop, though not as much as they might have done with a solo-offering. Nonetheless, each and every one of our beloved characters is given his/her turn to shine...and to pull at our heartstrings. I have to say that although I love each and every one of these characters, Cinder and Kai have always been standouts for me, with new favorites Cress and THORNE(!!!) rounding things out. Honestly though? I loved every.single.character. more than ever before and I grew to love Winter and Jacin as well and all of them became one pretty spectacular family. Seriously. So.Much.Love. ♥

Sometimes when all the action wraps up at the end of a beloved series, it seems like the words 'The End' show up too soon, without leaving us readers enough time to see how the characters remaining settle into the aftermath of their battle. I'm happy to say that there were enough pages left over to make sure every character got their proper send off, every ship given it's time to sail. Truly, Winter was an impressive, emotional and fitting ending to The Lunar Chronicles.

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