Mirror, mirror, on the wall. Who is the Fairest of them all? Pure evil has a name, hides behind a mask of deceit, and uses her "glamour" to gain power. But who is Queen Levana? Long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress in The Lunar Chronicles, Levana lived a very different story—a story that has never been told . . . until now. New York Times –bestselling author Marissa Meyer reveals the story behind her fascinating villain in Fairest, an unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes a special full-color image of Levana’s castle and an excerpt from Winter, the exciting conclusion to The Lunar Chronicles.
Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles #3.5)Featured
To be completely honest… I went into this series tie-in not expecting to like it. Some people love to indulge in extended villain backstory. I am not, typically, one of those people. I do, however, appreciate an interesting character study. And while you have a pretty clear idea of how badly this particular story does and must end, there are enough peripheral characters and curiosities to keep fans of the series captivated throughout most of the telling. (Not to mention some relevant background that Cinder simply can’t remember.)
Levana isn’t a basically good or sympathetic character who just made a few mistakes, or who well-meaningly got behind the wrong cause. She instead represents the perfect storm of nature vs. nurture. While there’s some effort to make her seem sympathetic initially, her warped and forceful desire to make herself happy—at the expense of all else—proves caustic to those around her and to the tiny shreds of human empathy she may have been capable of. The most this reader could ever feel was a sort of foreboding pity toward one so willfully incapable of comprehending love.
But while I can’t say I enjoyed the experience or content, it did keep me engaged enough to motivate my reading onward the entire time. Meyer has really come into a smooth, comfortable prose that makes for easy reading. The story could almost stand alone, but will work far better as a supplement to those “Lunartics” who are already well into the series.
The most insightful (and perhaps valuable) takeaway for teen readers may be in having this opportunity to watch the gradual transition from simple selfishness to unmitigated evil—as Levana steadily and intentionally kills off the shriveled, immature part of her that could have passed for a conscience. She does so quite believably by first indulging in vile thoughts and fantasies, and then gradually beginning to act on said fantasies. The psychology of those reinforcing thoughts and decisions ring devastatingly true—even far outside of fairy tales.
A universal truth is successfully conveyed. Absolute power corrupts—not all at once, but a little at a time. And it isn’t merely morality that it corrodes, but sanity as well.
Still, the biggest issue I had to take with this story was the timing of Levana’s last dastardly deed. All of her decisions up until that point had been fairly logical. Cold, self-centric, and amoral; but still calculatingly logical. Without spoiling the actual incident for anyone, I’ll just say that she puts herself at an emotional disadvantage YEARS before the move would technically be necessary as her intended means to an end.
All in all, a quick and series-enhancing read. Worth the time investment for existing fans.
What I loved best: The entire story! Fairest tells the entire background story of Levana, piecing together the first three books of the series. It is by far the best character study in YA today. Levana is 15 years old,withdrawn and constantly masked in glamours thanks to the scars that cover her. She is sheltered, lonely, and desperate.
From the very beginning, I started to feel compassion for Levena (for the very first time). But Meyers seamlessly builds and weaves twists and jabs into Levana's story. Sheltered, lonely, and desperate is a dangerous mix for someone who is rising into power. Fairest explains how Levana came to be such a twisted, brutal character. And while I started off sympathetic Meyer does not justify Levana' actions.
What left me wanting more? The sneak peak chapters of Winter! Why do I have to wait so long?
Fans of the Lunar Chronicles must read Fairest. Anyone new to the Lunar Chronicles should pick up Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress first- it will make Fairest an even better read! Looking forward to WINTER.
I was kind of upset about this book coming out at first. Not because of the book itself, but because of the timing. I wanted Winter to come out instead (I'm still in denial that i have to wait until frexing November!). I was dead set against not reading this book just out of spite, but I can't resist more Lunar Chronicles.
This is a very short book, around 200 pages, but it's from Levana's perspective before the events in Cinder. It starts out from a 15 year-old Levana and goes onward. While this is a prequel, it does have a few spoilers for the other books in the series. Though, you may not notice them if you haven't read the other books. If that makes any sense.
It was very horrible reading the mind of Levana. She's not as horrible in the very beginning as she is in Cinder and other books (still horrible), but, oh, does she grow to be more and more horrible as the book goes on. It was also very interesting to see into her mind and I can understand, even though it's no excuse, why she became so horrible. Her parents, who just died, never loved her and her sister is a horrible being (much like Levana, but I believe Levana actually grows to be worse).
Because she's never been loved, she doesn't really know what love is. She has had a crush on a guard, for a while now, even though he is much older and married. She obviously hates his wife, too much to be considered normal, and she sees his friendship as love. She fully believes that he loves her and wants to be with her and she actually ends up using magic to get him, still believing that this is love. It is all so very very horrible and I really felt sorry for Evert, the guard, at how horrible he was being treated.
Really, this book is very tragic. If you read the other books, then you know what will eventually happen and it is absolutely awful seeing them from Levana's perspective. Seeing how she see nothing wrong with what she was doing.
This book isn't really necessary for the series, but I do strongly recommend it. It was very interesting to get both Levana's backstory and a look into her mind. It was horrible and tragic, but it was still a very great read.