As Cinder and her friends race toward Luna, the final battle with Levana draws near. With the help of her friends, Cinder must rally her people against the queen, liberate them by dethroning her aunt, and take her place as queen. If she fails, it’s pretty much game over – Levana will take over earth once her marriage to Kai is complete, where she’ll enslave everyone.
Though Levana’s ward, Princess Winter, has always seemed reclusive and crazy, the people love her. When that love becomes yet another threat to Queen Levana’s rule, Winter’s stepmother orders her killed at the hands of the guard who has loved Winter since they were children. Though Cinder comes to Luna to stir up a revolution, she may be Winter’s only hope.
There were so many moments in this story that satisfied the needs the earlier books in the series created for me. Scarlet and Wolf. Cress and Thorne. Cinder and Kai. All the romance!! So good.
At first, I wasn’t super crazy about Winter. Jacin wasn’t my favorite either. As the story progressed, I liked both of them more, but I think it was tough to compete for my affection amid the cast of other characters. I am always blown away by how seamlessly Meyer incorporates elements from the fairytales into her novels. In all the chaos of the other story elements, I kept forgetting that Winter had elements from Snow White. As the elements from the familiar tale emerged, I found myself super excited and surprised by them. I feel like this has to be the highest praise a fairytale retelling can earn because to tell a familiar story in such a fresh, new way has to be really difficult.
This entire series has been so much fun to read. It’s largely clean (I think there was maybe the heaviest content in Fairest, which is Levana’s story) and because even the approach to the mind manipulation is taken from a sci-fi standpoint, it doesn’t feature the use of magic. If you like sci-fi or fairy tale retelling, this whole series is excellent. If you’re new to the series, check out my review of Cinder, the first book in the series.
Lunar people possess a gift which allows them to manipulate bioelectricity and therefore control the minds of those around them. There’s a lot of discussion about the ethics of this behavior and under what circumstances it’s appropriate for the mind control to be used. Cinder struggles with when and how to employ her gift and whether or not using it makes her as evil as Levana. Winter’s stubborn refusal to use her gift has caused mental instability.
Winter witnesses an execution in the Lunar court in which the prisoner uses a knife to kill himself while under the control of a high military official. It’s graphic but brief. Scarlet bears evidence of her torture in Lunar custody, though she doesn’t discuss it. There are some battle scenes between Lunars and revolutionaries. The wolf soldiers are a bit scary, and some of the battles contain vivid imagery. Winter also hallucinates some disturbing images – the walls bleeding, that sort of thing.