Friday, February 6, 2015

Review: Fairest - Marissa Meyer

Fairest by Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #0.1
Genre: YA, fairy tale retelling, science fiction
Published on January 27, 2015
Published by Feiwel & Friends
Pages: 222
Read From: 2.3.15 - 2.4.15

Mirror, mirror,

on the wall.
Who is the Fairest
of them all? 

Fans of The Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her "glamour" to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story - a story that has never been told. . . .until now.


Initial Thoughts: I have both been excited and a little anxious for this book ever since its release was announced. I love backstory, and villain backstory is even better. However, backstory for villains has to be done carefully, and I was worried that Fairest might ruin Levana. Would it make me sympathize with her? Would she become an anti-hero? Would she become more despicable? Or would she just be less threatening? Queen Levana is a good villainness, but I've had a hard time calling her intimidating because she does a lot of threatening, but rarely demonstrates that she's capable of carrying out her threats. So, I went into Fairest excited and nervous.

Characters: It's so interesting to meet Levana at the age of sixteen. Already events in her life have started to shape the Levana that we know, but there's still perhaps a glimmer of hope in her character. Of course, we Readers know that that bit of hope will be squashed; she's destined to be the villainness! Meeting this younger Levana, though, I was equal parts sympathetic and horrified. There's a disconnect in her already; a warped way of viewing things. While Levana confesses that she feels shamed at times - even guilty - there's never a moment when she doubts that what is happening, what she is feeling and doing, isn't destiny. And her unwavering belief in fate - which only increases as she spirals into insanity and greed - is what makes her so terrifying. She feels that her actions are justified. No matter how horrible the deed, it's what needs to be done. Channary, Levana's older sister, is just downright awful and completely off her rocker. Especially when we find out what she did to Levana; in some ways, I wish Channary was the villainness of The Lunar Chronicles; while not as intelligent as Levana, she makes up for it in sheer ruthlessness and cruelty. Evret, the royal guard whom Levana takes a shine to, I just felt sorry for. Totally and absolutely sorry.

The Romance: Levana's obsession with Evret should serve as a cautionary tale for any girl who allows her emotions to overrule sanity. It's creepy and disturbing and will warn you off reading into any action a guy you're interested in does. Oddly enough, at the same time, I actually did come to believe that Levana loved Evret is her own twisted, disillusioned way. But she was someone who didn't know how to love properly - and who was already eaten up with her own issues that it wouldn't have mattered. In a word, the romance in Fairest is tragic and disturbing - and serves so very well to illustrate Levana's insanity.

Plot: Put simply, this is Queen Levana's backstory, starting at age sixteen and leading up to her taking the throne of Luna. We meet some familiar characters, see the beginnings of our protagonists, and what leads to Levana's insanity and power obsession. We get a glimpse into her dark and twisted mind. This was thoroughly fascinating. It's a quick read, but it does so much amazing world building for Luna and its history - and the characters and politics that eventually come into play in Cinder's story. It's a thoroughly effective 200-page novel that kept me in its grip to the very end.

Believability: Not applicable.

Writing Style: Third person, past tense. Probably Marissa Meyer's writing at its finest. I mean that with all sincerity. With subtle hints and vivid imagery, she painted a perfect picture of Levana's character and thought patterns. With every action and word, she intensified Levana's sickness and twisted view of the world.

Content: Some not-so-subtle, nor graphic, lewdness.

Conclusion: Fairest wasn't a disappointment. My fascination with Levana and horror at what she became mounted until the conclusion, where my mouth dropped open and my respect for her as an unhinged villainness was solidified. What doubts I had about Levana's capabilities as a villain are now quenched. She's dangerous, she's intimidating, she's terrifying. I wanted so badly to feel sympathy for her, especially when what Channary did to her was revealed. And I guess a part of me does a little bit. After such experiences and upbringing, can anyone wonder at how she turned out? At the same time, she had a chance at a true friend and love. Perhaps even by then, it was too late. Perhaps it wasn't. We'll never know. But this had to be one of the best villain backstories I've ever read.

Recommended Audience: Girl-and-guy read, sixteen-and-up, fans of The Lunar Chronicles.

Others in The Lunar Chronicles:

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