Angela's Reviews > Fairest

Fairest by Gail Carson Levine
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Mar 05, 09

bookshelves: adoption, folklore-fairytales, romance
Read in March, 2009, read count: 1

This was a really pathetic book - a sad departure Levine's other fantastic novels. The idea was interesting (a take on the story of "Snow White" where her desirable trait isn't beauty, but instead is her singing voice), but the execution was horrible.

The book staggered under one major inconsistency: the main character is horribly ugly, but the prince falls in love with her very quickly anyway. Hopelessly romantic? Perhaps. But I call it an inconsistency because Aza was not only unlovely, but almost unlovable. Many wonderful heroines are not particularly beautiful (Jane Eyre, Jo March, Anne Shirley, Princess Amy, etc.), but they have wit, strength, courage, charm, or passion that makes them remarkable. Aza had none of these - she was whiny, miserable, thoughtless, and full of self-loathing throughout the entire book.

Also, the prince likes her almost immediately, before he has any chance to get to know her: this would suggest to me that either the prince has horrible taste in looks, or that Aza really isn't as ugly as she constantly tells us she is (which would only make her whining all the more exasperating). Her amazing voice and ability to compose music are impressive to him I suppose, and her "ability to make him laugh" was apparently important...but he lives in Ayortha, where almost everyone sings and composes well, and he was called "merry," "smiling," and "laughing" long before Aza captured his heart. Even knowing that she deceived him, he falls for the ugly wet blanket. She was never clever, except in her skill at singing. She didn't do anything smart, and certainly didn't act brave. Her sister says she is kind, but we never see her acting like it. What on earth is there to like about her? Her characterization, in my opinion, ruined the entire book.

There were other problems as well: Couldn't Levine have come up with a more realistic antagonist than...Lucinda? Of course everyone who read "Ella Enchanted" dislikes her already - it was so much easier to use her, than to actually design a characterization for someone who would hand out such a dangerous gift at weddings. Unfortunately, it didn't fit her character at all (Lucinda loves attention and admiration - she would never visit the bride alone and give the gifts with absolutely no ceremony or a huge crowd of people around; and why would she give a potion of disguise to someone she was making beautiful?), and it even discredits her change of heart that comes at the end of "Ella." It was a total cop-out.

Last of all, it was predictable. Not just in the way that all fairy tales are rather predictable, but in the way that makes the book really boring because the main character is being such a blind fool, predictable. Besides the fact that it was clean, there is nothing in this book to recommend.
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Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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Emi-jo i agree with everything reader "Angela" wrote.
She was a very flat, whiny character and didn't even have, i felt, a true chagne of heart about her looks and what was truly important, at the end.
uncharactaristic of Levine, who i love, which made me sad.

Brittni "Horrible taste in looks" is kind of subjective, given that not everyone finds the same aspects of a person unattractive. Some people actually find an especial attractiveness in aspects which are overall deemed not preferrable to the large majority, such as guys who are mostly only attracted to girls with a gothic look, girls who are most attracted to guys with lots of piercings, people who find someone with a heftier body weight more preferable, etc. Personally, there've been times when I was attracted to people right away for no explicable reason despite them being objectively what I'd consider unattractive, and couldn't figure out what it was that I liked about them. So given that, I can believe the prince could find Aza attractive when he first sees her, before he even gets to know her better.

What, to you, made Aza whiny and miserable? If you mean her showing her dissatisfaction with her looks at times, I didn't see it as whiny...she doesn't like that she's unattractive, but at this point she just kind of remarks on it in passing. It's understandable that she'd think about it every so often and get down about it; I think everyone does who feels unattractive, and I'd be upset, too, if I were her, with treating her worse for her looks, staring at her, talking behind her back...that really piles up. Is someone not able to express discontent without seeming whiny? She's not like this throughout the entire book and though she struggles with her self-image (again, understandable, and not something that could really be found fault with because everyone would feel lesser of themselves for this though they might overcome it at some point), at the end of the book she has more confidence, and is starting to appreciate her appearance, and she says herself.

Aza not only has talent in the singing itself, but the composing...coming up with lyrics is a cleverness, especially right on the spot. She exhibits bravery by singing in front of everyone else even despite being shy at first arriving to the palace. She gets herself out of her prison by persevering, against the odds--strength. Her expressed feelings of joy and empowerment when she sings are proof of her passion for singing. I really can't see why you'd go so far as to pronounce her "a blind fool".

message 3: by Nardie (new)

Nardie i couldn't even finsh the book i didnt even understand what in the world was going on!! anyway i didnt like it at all and the girl on the book alway think she's ugly so why in the world would i want to read this if i want to know how people feel about how they look i can just go and ask people on the street.

Kaviola Valsaint Aza is just like any king of teenage girls. Just because she does have courage dosn't mean a thing. There are millions of teens that can relate. And the prince fell in love with her because she has a beautiful personalilty that is why he fell in love with her so quick. I'm pretty sure you would fall in love with a man for his personality not for his looks.

message 5: by Kat (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kat I agree with Kaviola, we dont need another Mary Sue, Aza is unique, and she has very good points. She acts like a normal person. I think it's good for teens though, mostly.

Merrilee I believe this actually takes place BEFORE Ella Enchanted. Possibly at the same time. At the end you find out that Aza's younger sister met Ella at boarding school. Her sister was sent to school right before Aza left for the castle meaning that Lucinda's change of heart comes after Oscaro's marriage to Ivi (though I found it strange that she gave the gift in private as well).

Rylie Lucinda isn't really the antagonist of this book. She only pops up a few times throughout the entire story. Skulni or Ivi would definitely be the main antagonists, Ivi especially being a very realistic antagonist. As for the characterization of Aza, I think she was written perfectly fine. She is the way she is in order to relate to all women with insecurities when in actuality they have really likable qualities past looks (for example an amazing singing voice or good sense of humor) that they don't even notice when other people find those qualities charming. Maybe prince Ijori was attracted to her initial awkwardness when they first met or thought that her musical talent surpassed any "ugliness" she thought she had. Maybe he was just a genuinely goodnatured person who cared for personality more than looks.

Avery I find the number of people who lack basic spelling and capitalization shocking and pathetic...

Avery Sorry, that wasn't directed at anyone in particular, just a general observation. It's a bit of a pet peeve of mine. :)

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