christina's Reviews > Fairest

Fairest by Marissa Meyer
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Jun 16, 2014

it was amazing

MARISSA MEYER IS A GENIUS (although of course we already knew that). I cannot flail hard enough over this book because I LOVED EVERYTHING ABOUT IT.

I’ve been a hardcore Marissa Meyer fan since the very beginning, and I can assure you that her writing has only grown and developed even further over the course of this series. This book will be most effective for those who already know and love the main Lunar Chronicles series, but it can be read on its own as well—and that’s part of its beauty. Although it’s clearly an origin story, Fairest stands by itself as its own little microcosm within the larger world of the series.

At its heart, Fairest is a character study, and it accomplishes this brilliantly. While Levana is by no means a sympathetic protagonist, she is an absolutely fascinating one. In fact, I somehow came out of the book hating her even more, despite the fact that she’s the main character. But here’s where we see the real strength of this book: Levana is not a likable character and honestly won’t ever be, but now she is a somewhat understandable one. As the readers, we get to peel back her layers and look into her innermost thoughts; we get exposed to her twisted ideas of love and power and hope. We get snippets of the darkest parts of her childhood and see that somewhere deep inside of her, she is trying to make up for everything and be a good queen. We see that she has very real and very devastating emotions, despite her seeming coldness in the main series. We see her willful blindness when it comes to public opinion of her rule. The lengths she is willing to go to are confusing and upsetting at times, but now we can get a glimpse at the distorted ‘logic’ behind them.

The supporting characters are wonderfully rounded out as well. I loved the insight we get into Princess Winter’s real parents—Evret and Solstice Hayle are beautiful and realistic and graceful people that I absolutely adored. And Channary! CHANNARY. We kind of forget about the fact that Levana had an older sister, since no one ever really talks about her in the main series. But it turns out that Channary had a huge hand in making Levana the twisted individual she is, and their character dynamic was just so well-built. In a novel that’s so thoroughly about Levana, it’s nice to see that supporting characters got almost as much attention in their creation.

I’d also been really curious about the culture and lifestyle of Lunars, and since this book was set entirely on Luna, I finally got that peek I’d been waiting for. That definitely added another dimension to the worldbuilding for me, and it was so, so worthwhile. (I mean, come on, Lunartics. You’ve been wondering about Luna, admit it.)

I loved the pacing, too—wonderfully effective, and so taut with tension that I tore through this book in a matter of days. Marissa Meyer has always had a unique talent for feeling the heartbeat of her story and running with it, and Fairest is no exception. Character dynamics are expertly explored throughout the novel, and even though there isn’t much of the old-fashioned fight-scene/daring-escape action that the main series is so wonderfully full of, there’s still this constant sense of urgency that makes it almost impossible to really stop reading. Even time skips were masterfully maneuvered, allowing Meyer to deliver a story that spanned years and still leave me satisfied with every bit.

We also get Marissa Meyer’s trusty writing style to go along with everything. I always describe Meyer’s prose to other people as being unassuming, because while it isn’t flashy or immediately remarkable, it has the unique property of being so compulsively readable that you often forget there’s a string of words connecting you to the events of the book. It gets out of your way so quickly that you just fall headfirst into the story—but it also has its truly gorgeous moments. Sure, it doesn’t have the consistently lovely turns of phrase that I so often appreciate, but it’s just as valuable and may even work better in this fast-paced sci-fi setting.

And the fairy tale elements! Eeeek, they were wonderful. Since this book reveals so much about Levana’s character as the evil queen of ‘Snow White’, it goes into her pathological hatred of mirrors and her obsession with beauty as well, and I think these elements were wonderfully incorporated into the already fairy-tale-rich world of the Lunar Chronicles. While we don’t see as much of a pure retelling element as we do in the main books, probably because this is a prequel, there are still hints and connections here and there that I really enjoyed finding.

It also reminded me how DESPERATELY I need Winter. Like, okay, the excerpt in the back? That was CRUEL, I tell you. I need to see Cinder and the gang again. So if the intent of this book was to drum up anticipation for the Lunar Chronicles’ conclusion, it’s accomplished that without a doubt.

Ultimately, though, I feel I have to close this review with another look at Levana. A single book has, for me, turned her from terrifyingly but distantly evil to heartbreakingly and undeniably real, perhaps one of the most memorably layered characters I’ve ever read. When one considers the big picture, it’s clear that the opposing forces in this story are contained within Levana herself—that is, Levana is both her own heroine and her own villain. Although she may think that Solstice Hayle or her sister Channary or even Princess Selene is keeping her from the life she’s always wanted, it’s really the contradictions within her own personality that keep her dreams just out of reach. The downward spiral that this book depicts is tragic and gripping and eye-opening, and it’s truly inspired me to take another look at what a ‘villain’ really is.
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Quotes christina Liked

Marissa Meyer
“Maybe the princess could save herself."
"That sounds like a pretty good story too.”
Marissa Meyer, Fairest

Marissa Meyer
“Levana had not seen the bodies, but she had seen the bedrooms the next morning, and her first thought was that all that blood would make for a very pretty rouge on her lips.”
Marissa Meyer, Fairest: Levana’s Story

Reading Progress

June 16, 2014 – Shelved
June 16, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read
February 22, 2015 – Started Reading
February 24, 2015 –
page 164
February 24, 2015 – Shelved as: need-to-review
February 24, 2015 – Finished Reading

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