Title: Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles #3.5)
Author: Marissa Meyer
Genre: Young Adult | Sci-Fi
Synopsis: 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. In this book, Meyer recalls the story of Levana, her spiral into evil, and her ascension to the Lunar throne.
Final Rating: ★★★★☆
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I know a lot of people are completely in love with Queen Levana, and think that she’s the single greatest villain to have graced the young adult world. I disagree. I think that Levana is a fairly interesting character, but not so much that I would feel the need to know more about her. She’s interesting, but she doesn’t intrigue me, nor do I think she’s the greatest villain out there. In fact, I wasn’t planning on picking this book up at all, but I read Cress recently, and I was having major withdrawals- hence, I picked up this companion novel.
It’s very short, and you can get through this very easily, very quickly. It doesn’t have a refined plot, but it has a ton of character development, which I appreciated. It was interesting to see how Levana got to where she currently is, and her downward spiral from a pitiful girl to an stoic, evil woman was actually very fascinating- more so than I expected.
I would say that this book isn’t absolutely essential to understand the series as a whole, but it did provide a lot of insight for some of the characters, especially Winter, the protagonist of the fourth book in the series. If you’re interested in some extra information that you probably don’t need, you should check it out. It’ll take you a few hours to read, and it’s a lot of fun. If you read the series, because the plot is fascinating, and you don’t really care about the extraneous details, you don’t need to read this.
Like I said before, Fairest doesn’t have a concrete plot. It’s mostly character development. You get to see snippets of Levana’s childhood (mostly towards the end), and her teenage years. You get to see her hunger for power, her jealousy, her insecurities, and definitely the need to be loved and wanted. I didn’t expect this book to be so romance-heavy, but it was. In fact, the main facet of Fairest was the “romance,” and I think it was the main reason for Levana’s development from a lonely, pitiful girl to an evil woman.
I think the reason I was a little bit disappointed with this was because I expected a lot more politics involved. The politics/ruling/coming to power part of this novel was very small, perhaps ten or twenty pages in total. But, even though it was a pretty small part, it was still interesting to read.
I’ve always thought that Marissa Meyer does a fantastic job of crafting her characters, and it was no different in this novel. Levana was extremely well-developed. Everything she did had a reason behind it, and Meyer has a very clear picture of what she wants the reader to think and feel regarding Levana. Towards the beginning of the novel, you are able to sympathize with her. She’s a lonely girl who is extremely insecure about her looks. The guy she likes is married, and her sister’s just a horrible person. But then things start to change, and as things change, so does Levana. By the end of the book, you have a very clear picture of Levana as a ruthless, crazy person who would do anything for herself. (I mean, at least that’s how I picture her.) This drastic transition was very well-done, and I was very impressed, given the length of the novel.
The secondary characters involved were also well-developed. Channary’s an awful person, an awful ruler, and an awful sister. Even though I despised her as a person, I thought that her character was very striking, and provided further insight into Levana’s character. I really liked Evret’s character as well. He was well-rounded, and I really sympathized with him throughout the book.
We do get to see a little bit of Winter in this book. She is a child, and I don’t know if Meyer will incorporate parts of Winter’s childhood in the fourth book, now that she’s written this entire book giving us some background. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
I think Marissa Meyer is an extremely talented writer. Her language isn’t hard to read; it’s light enough that you fly through it. It’s addictive, but at the same time, it’s not cliché. She doesn’t use ‘overused’ terms usually found in young adult novels. She writes with fluidity, and nothing feels forced. There aren’t many fancy words in her novel, but this works to her advantage because usually, flowery language tends to slow down a novel, but Meyer’s novels are always very fast-paced and entertaining.
But above everything, I respect her ability to craft such nuanced characters. And because I’m a character-driven reader, I will always pick up anything Meyer puts out. I was apprehensive about this book, but I actually really liked it. I won’t make the mistake of being apprehensive about one of Meyer’s books again, definitely.
Would I recommend? If you’re a character-driven person too, yes, check this out. If you’re a plot-driven person and don’t care much about the characters, then you can skip this. In fact, I recommend skipping it.
Would I re-read? No, because I don’t think it contributes significantly to the Lunar Chronicles’ STORY.