Marissa Meyer – Fairest
Length: 256 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Started: 05 February 2015
Finished: 06 February 2015
Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? New Lunar Chronicles! Yay!
There’s something ugly
behind the mask of the queen…
and not just her scars.
Summary: The rest of the Lunar Chronicles portray Queen Levanna as a manipulative, power-hungry, ruthlessly cold villain who will go to any lengths to secure what she wants. But how did she get to be that way? Fairest opens with Levanna as a young woman, shortly following the death of her parents, and the investiture of her vain, self-centered, and cruel elder sister Channary as queen. Levanna wants what’s best for the Lunar people, but she’s still young and powerless, and struggling to control her glamor that she uses to hide the horrible disfigurement inflicted on her as a child by her sister. She’s also isolated – her royal blood means that she has grown up apart from other children, and Channary has no use for her other than as a pawn whose marriage might bring a beneficial alliance. So Levanna finds herself falling in love with the only person who’s ever been nice to her – a palace guard named Evrett. Evrett is married, but Levanna is determined – and with the mental gifts conveyed upon her by her royal lineage, she is unaccustomed to not getting what she wants… but she doesn’t always realize until too late that getting her own way comes at a sometimes terrible cost.
Review: Like all of Meyer’s books, this one is an imaginative blend of fairy tale elements and science fiction, fun and fast to read, and capable of holding my attention even when I am busy and stressed out and less able than normal to invest energy in reading for fun. While I’m eager to know how Cinder & Co.’s story is going to resolve, and anxious for the final book in the series to hurry up and be published already, this prequel was definitely a worthwhile diversion. Villains are always more interesting if they’ve got some layers to them, if they’re not evil just for the sake of evil. If they’re well done, I find villain’s backstories very compelling, and this one was really well done. Even leaving aside what we know about Levanna from the rest of the series, I spent this book rocketing back and forth between feeling intensely sorry for her and complete repelled by her — sometimes both simultaneously. It’s an interesting feeling to totally understand why a character is doing something, all the while going “Oh no, no no no. This is going to be a disaster. Oh honey, no.” It’s definitely a new perspective on Levanna’s character, and it will be interesting to see how this changes my perception of her when the fourth book comes out – and if/when I revisit the first three books. 4 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: Although this is a prequel, and is relatively well self-contained, I don’t think it would work as a stand-alone, or even a point of entry into the series – it’s so focused on explaining “how things got to be this way” that you really need to know what “this way” is in order for the story to have any impact. But for those who have read the first three Lunar Chronicles books, Fairest is just as compelling as the others, and is a fascinating look at a particularly nasty bad guy.
First Line: She was lying on a burning pyre, hot coals beneath her back.
Vocab: (see the whole list)
- p. 40: “Levana was a statue. A girl carved of regolith and dust.” – The layer of loose rock resting on bedrock, constituting the surface of most land. Also called mantle rock.
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