I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Fairest by Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #3.5
Published by Feiwel & Friends on January 27th, 2015
Genres: Fairy Tale Retelling, Science Fiction, Young Adult
In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.
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.
Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.
It’s probably worth noting that I very rarely read novellas or prequels unless I am heavily invested in the series. Now, Fairest was at the top of my wishlist anyway because The Lunar Chronicles is one of my all time favorite series. This prequel novella gives me a new appreciation for Meyer’s craftsmanship in terms of her story and her characters.
One of the things I love most in books – particularly in sci-fi / fantasy series – is getting a good understanding of the villain. A villain should never be evil just to be evil. There should be a reason for that – they should be doing what they think is right based on some misguided thought processes. But they’re still human – there should be a certain logic to it. Fairest delivers precisely that for Levana, the villain of The Lunar Chronicles. You may know Levana as being based on the evil stepmother from Snow White, but in Fairest the story starts long before that, when Levana is just 17.
The strength of Fairest is making Levana human again. Indeed, I felt pangs of sympathy for her. Her desperation to be loved and adored makes perfect sense when you learn about the dynamic between her and her sister, Channary. Channary is actually worse than Levana – she’s explicitly sadistic and borderline tortures Levana for the fun of it. Indeed, because of Channary, Levana’s appearance has been forever ruined. Her obsessions with beauty, love, and adoration became completely understandable. Even though her relationship with Evret, Winter’s father, is so unhealthy and cringeworthy, it totally fits with her persona. Levana goes into a gradual downward spiral, becoming obsessed with power, needing the throne, ruling Luna, and wanting Earth as well. It was so human and interesting and made for the best back story.
I will say that I feel like a bit more could have been done with the novella. A lot of the political aspects are quickly glossed over. The most important parts are mentioned shortly to show Levana’s will to govern and some of her ambition, but for how much they say she LOVES politics, we hardly get to see much of it. Considering this is also our first real glimpse of Lunar society, that would have been really interesting to expand on. Also, despite the story being only 220 pages, it takes place over more than 10 years. The transitions were not that smooth, and it felt awkward to have such large gaps between certain scenes. Seriously, just adding headings with dates would have made it that much easier to follow.
Is it necessary to read this novella? It depends. If you’re not totally in love with the series, you could probably skip it if you really wanted to – plot-wise, for the series as a whole, not much new stuff is revealed. But then again, it’s only 220 pages, so reading it isn’t a big burden on your time. But I think it is worth it because it shows how well Marissa Meyer has plotted out every aspect of this series. Even a villain has a back story – and by understanding it, the whole series is more comprehensive and more feels-y. I’m really excited for Winter now. Having a villain that is flawed and evil but still human makes the story much more interesting. It’s not as simple as hoping the characters assassinate Levana ASAP. I’m personally hoping for at least a small sense of redemption in the end, to make Levana’s character arc come full circle.