Jess's Reviews > Fairest

Fairest by Marissa Meyer
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I know this is going to sound ridiculous, but this was a lot darker than I was expecting. And I loved it.

I was a little hesitant when I first heard that Meyer was going to be releasing a book that was basically Levana's backstory. I'm very bored of villains with sob stories. I know all villains usually have some sort of reason for the way that they are, but they're usually very samey, very badly pulled off, and generally very boring. I was hoping that wouldn't be the case with Fairest because Meyer's done such a fantastic job with the rest of The Lunar Chronicles; she has earned so much of my respect for writing one of the most diverse YA series around, and her portrayal of Levana's growth/descent into 'the Evil Queen' was just brilliant.

I think what I loved most about this book is we don't start with a Levana who is entirely sane to begin with. Yes we can guess that perhaps she was once an innocent, sweet little child (view spoiler) but being raised in the royal family, in a family where there's no love lost between them whatsoever, has left her with no real understanding of what love is, but she still wants it. That in itself is touching, heartbreaking and fascinating to watch.

Levana's relationship with Winter's father, Evret, was not at all how I expected. (view spoiler) And I loved that. It was so much darker and more twisted than I thought it was going to be, and that's what made this story better than most other villain's tales out there. I know I'm probably in the minority here, but I hated Disney's Maleficent - that Maleficent was the way she was because of a man infuriated me. When was the last time a villain was a villain just because? Levana certainly isn't a villain just because she feels like it, but her reasons are much more believable. In fact she has reasons far beyond her feelings for Evret, which is such a relief.

Seriously, writers need to start getting it into their heads that someone dumping you or rejecting you isn't reason enough to turn into the next Stalin.

Channary fascinated me. We don't know much about her from the other books, aside from the fact that she was pretty darn cruel - seriously, who cuts off their seamstress's feet? - and that she had many lovers, making it practically impossible to identify Cinder's paternity. I had no idea what to expect from her, and ultimately I loved how Meyer chose to portray her; as strange as it may seem, certain things she said made a lot of sense, and I really like that we got to see how much Channary's ghost must be haunting Levana even now.

Also, her relationship with Cinder/Selene wasn't what I expected at all. That Channary seemed to have genuine affection for her daughter (view spoiler) really surprised me, and added an extra layer to her character. This is Levana's story, so we're never really going to know much about Channary, and I appreciated these extra little details that allowed us to get a sense of Cinder's biological mother.

Speaking of relationships with Cinder, the little scenes between Cinder and Winter! Ow. My heart. That's all I'm going to say on the matter.

Basically, as much as I'd hoped/expected this book to be good, it pleasantly surprised me more than once. It made me both understand and empathise with Levana, while also not making her any less of a villain, and that's what I want from a villain story. I don't want to read Winter rooting for Levana, although considering Cinder is one of my favourite heroines of all time I doubt that would have happened anyway.

How can I give it anything less than 5 stars?
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Reading Progress

June 16, 2014 – Shelved
June 16, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read
June 22, 2014 – Shelved as: anticipated-2015-reads
February 28, 2015 – Started Reading
February 28, 2015 –
page 137
62.27%
February 28, 2015 – Finished Reading
May 11, 2015 – Shelved as: read-in-2015
May 11, 2015 – Shelved as: 2015-retelling-challenge
May 14, 2015 – Shelved as: 2015-sc-fi-experience
November 19, 2015 – Shelved as: science-fiction
November 19, 2015 – Shelved as: ya

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