“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.
I’m a huge fan of the Lunar Chronicles – I read the first three books during the late winter and early spring of 2014, and was just blown away by Marissa Meyer’s unique story. But when Fairest was published this past January, I… didn’t read it. I went through a massive reading slump for pretty much the entire first half of 2015, for various reasons, and just never bothered to pick up Fairest and continue the story.
UNTIL NOW. I read Fairest yesterday, because Winter (the final book in this series) will be published on the tenth. This motivated me to finally get around to reading Fairest, because then I can move on and finish the rest of this amazing series! I have no hope of reading Winter any time soon – I’m, like, fourteenth on the wait list at the public library – but I’m so excited for it anyway!
(I could buy it, but… I already bought Demon Road and The Sword of Summer and Batwoman: Elegy this fall so I feel bad about spending more money on books, especially since I want to buy the entire Lunar Chronicles as a boxed set.)
ANYWAY. Here is my review… and I’m going to try to post more reviews this month, so we’ll just have to see how that goes! I’m super behind on my book reviews right now (as always), but I’d like to write at least two reviews for Reading The Rainbow and then maybe one or two normal reviews? (As in, reviews that aren’t tied to a regular feature on this blog such as RTR. But you probably figured that out already.)
This review contains spoilers!
MARISSA MEYER IS A FREAKING QUEEN AND I CAN’T BELIEVE I LET MYSELF FORGET JUST HOW MUCH I ADORE HER WRITING AND WORLDBUILDING AND EVERYTHING. OMG.
I enjoy books (and stories in general) with villain POVs, whether the villain narrates the entire story or has just a few chapters. So I loved this exploration of Levana’s past! In Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, she… isn’t really all that complex? But Fairest gives us more information about why she is the way she is.
And OHHHH MAN. She was even more messed up in this book than I thought she was going to be! (I mean, she’s the evil queen from “Snow White”! Also: AHHH I LOVE THAT FAIRY TALE SO SO MUCH AND I AM EXCITED FOR WINTER BECAUSE WINTER IS SNOW WHITE.) Like I said, it’s been practically forever since I read the previous books in this series, so I guess I’d forgotten just how manipulative the Lunars’ glamour can be?!
Fairest is basically all about how Levana falls in love – or thinks she’s in love – with this palace guard who doesn’t love her back and is constantly like “WTF Levana.” She manipulates him into sleeping with her, marrying her, et cetera, and those sections made me super uncomfortable. So… just a heads up that if rape and/or abuse is triggering to you, read this book with caution? It’s nothing super graphic, but this is not an easy book to read either. This is a LOT darker than the rest of the Lunar Chronicles.
Some pretty horrific things happened to Levana, as well. That plot twist at the end, with her sister and the fire? OH. MY. GOD. I had no idea there would be a parallel between her and Cinder!
Speaking of her sister… Channary is a very interesting character, isn’t she? I think that in some ways, she’s worse than Levana – colder, more calculating, and more dangerous. That is not to say that Levana doesn’t have problems of her own, but whereas Channary was out to hurt people, Levana often seemed to make honest mistakes. She wanted to be the best queen the people of Luna ever had, and she tried so hard, but she kept failing and digging herself and her planet into a deeper and deeper hole.
Also, I was fascinated by this idea that Queen Channary had no idea who the father of her daughter (Princess Selene/Cinder) was, and that no one made any attempt to find out, either. The Lunars don’t believe in monogamy, so all that mattered was that Selene’s mother was royal. The politics of Luna are cool, and very different from other books I’ve read about royalty… such as A Song of Ice and Fire, where knowing one’s parentage IS super important if there’s a possibility that you might one day rule the country.
Another thing I loved was the diversity! Evret – Levana’s EXTREMELY reluctant husband – is black, and ahhhhh I’m never going to be over the fact that his daughter, Winter, is the Snow White of this story. A BLACK SNOW WHITE AHHHH THAT’S WONDERFUL.
Finally, I looooooooved the all the little references to the rest of the series. Like Jacin Clay! And OH HOW I SQUEED WHENEVER DR. ERLAND AND SYBIL MIRA WERE MENTIONED. SFJKHDSKGHASLGKHDLGJHDG.
Honestly, the only problem I have with Fairest is its length: It’s soooo short! I realize that it’s meant to be more of a novella, a bridge book between Cress and Winter, but I WANTED MORE. I’ve always loved how long the other books in the Lunar Chronicles are – you can really sink your teeth into them. SO. YEAH. Basically I’m just even more excited for Winter since it’s going to be like 800 pages.
All in all, I really, really enjoyed Fairest and wish I hadn’t had a book slump earlier this year, so that I could have read it back then! BECAUSE OMG I NEEDED THIS BOOK.
Have you read Fairest? What did you think of it? And are you as excited for Winter as I am?!