April 17, 2015

Review: Fairest by Marissa Meyer

She cried for the girl who had never belonged. A girl who tried so hard, harder than anyone else, and still never had anything to show for it.

The Book Rest - Book Review for Fairest by Marissa MeyerTitle: Fairest
Author: Marissa Meyer
Genre: YA Fairy Tale Fantasy
Rating: A-
Recommended For: fans of The Lunar Chronicles and fractured fairy tales
Source: library e-book

One-sentence review: Fans of Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles gain satisfying insight into the early life of Queen Levana and pleasantly discover through her complex history that not all villains are born evil and not all evil is black-and-white. 

TBR It: Goodreads
Buy It: Amazon

I must admit I was a little bit hesitant when I learned Marissa Meyer had added this book to The Lunar Chronicles from Levana's perspective. Not quite the size of a full-length novel but longer than a novella, I wasn't sure how I felt about an optional addition to a story I already love and respect so much. If you've been reading my blog at all you know that I'm not a big fan of pointless novellas and feel that more often than not they cheapen a series. I didn't feel that way with Fairest, however, and find that while you don't have to read it to understand the series, it is an interesting addition overall.

Fairest spins the story of Queen Levana's teen to young adult years, before she was queen when she lived in the shadow of her selfish, hateful sister, Channary. As a young teen, Levana has a strong crush on Evret, one of her parents' guards. When Evret's wife dies in childbirth, Levana goes to great lengths to do everything she can to force him to love her, including using her glamour to look identical to his late wife. But Levana can never really force anyone to love her and instead of becoming humbled by this, she grows more and more corrupt. We learn about Cinder's birth, her apparent death and this novel sets readers up for the story of the newest Lunar Chronicles character, Winter.

Even though all of the other books in The Lunar Chronicles are peppered with love stories, this is the only one that I might classify being a romance story (despite the lack of true love). This could be somewhat off-putting to readers who value the action packed fantasy of this series, but I think it's important to evaluate the concept that most hate stems from some form of love. Levana's evil and power-hungry attitude stems from her life being completely devoid of love; from her parents apathetic attitude toward her and her sister's torture to not understanding why the man she's crushing over won't return her feelings, Levana is terribly alone in the world. Based on her history of love, she completely misunderstands it, thinking it goes hand-in-hand with power. And while her actions cannot be justified, readers may find that they have a little more compassion for Levana when they see where she's come from. No matter how hard Levana forces people to do things, she never actually gets the love for which she's so hungry.

Another fascinating part of this story is to see how utterly evil Channary is, especially to her sister, Levana. If you're a fan of The Lunar Chronicles you're automatically assumed to be a fan of Cinder, so it's shocking to gain insight into her biological mother's pure insanity. It's shocking to see how humble, brave and good Cinder is compared to those in her family tree and makes me want to re-read the entire series for hints of Cinder's relation to her mother's family.

Similarly, this book has made me especially excited for the final book in the series, Winter, based on Evret's daughter and Levana's step-daughter. Winter doesn't have a huge role in Levana's story, but her history definitely does. I'm sure this background will come in handy when The Lunar Chronicles is complete later this year. For this reason and the others I've mentioned, I have to consider this novella The Book Rest approved. Definitely read it if you love The Lunar Chronicles as much as I do! In fact, I don't think I've ever heard of one person not loving this series, so if you haven't read it, what are you waiting for?

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