Brooke Reviews: Fairest by Marissa Meyer

I was simultaneously disappointed and excited when Marissa Meyer announced the publication of Fairest. Disappointed, because it meant I’d have longer to wait for Winter. And excited, because I knew the book would add depth to her story world and to her villain, Queen Levana.

I will praise Marissa Meyer until the end of my days. Fairest exceeded all expectations. It is the tragic story of a girl who longs to be loved.

The book begins with the murder of Levana’s parents. The only family young Levana has left is Channery, her older sister and heir to the Lunar throne. But Channery is selfish and vain and cares nothing about politics. And she is cruel to Levana. She continually reminds Levana of her ugliness and her worthlessness.

Surrounded by the mentality that beauty is everything, Levana’s glamour becomes her shield. And eventually, her source of power. I was eager to discover the reason for Levana’s fear of being truly seen. Readers of the Lunar Chronicles know that Levana despises mirrors and wears a veil whenever she communicates via netscreen. It’s obvious that Levana is insecure about her appearance and wishes to maintain the facade of being exquisitely beautiful, but Fairest reveals that there’s much more to it than that.

The timeline of the book covers much of Levana’s life – beginning with her teenage years and ending just before the events of the first three books (Cinder, Scarlet, Cress). The passage of time is smooth, organic. I was carried along by the flow and rhythm of the story.

It’s an engaging read. I appreciated how much backstory (for all the characters!) Meyer was able to weave in without slowing the pace.

As for Levana’s character, she is sympathetic but not altogether likable. My heart ached for her, even when I knew she was making poor decisions. It is an incredible feat for an author to make an antagonist sympathetic AFTER readers have encountered her in previous books. And I think I speak for all fans of the Lunar Chronicles when I say we have very strong feelings of hatred for Levana. But not anymore. So huge props to Marissa Meyer!

Levana’s transformation and downward spiral is painful. The book is emotional and sorrowful. But it’s so compelling, and I know it will make my reading experience of Winter infinitely more impactful.

Have you read this book? Share your thoughts!

5 thoughts on “Brooke Reviews: Fairest by Marissa Meyer

  1. Michelle @ Pink Polka Dot Books

    Ughhh I loved this novella!! I think it’s the first one I’ve ever really really been into. I loved seeing Levana’s backstory and I didn’t want it to ever end! Now Winter seems further away than ever!! I also felt myself feeling bad for her… and then I had to remind myself how horrid she is in the other books!! No excuse for her behavior! Great review!
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    1. brooke Post author

      Same – I’ve never really been into novellas, either, but I appreciate the concept and this book definitely changed my mind! Not sure if other authors can pull it off quite as well as Marissa Meyer, but I’ll be more willing to give them a shot. 🙂 And yes, Winter seems so far away, and that teaser at the back of Fairest made it worse. Also, I totally agree with you that Levana has no excuse for her behavior. Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter didn’t have perfect circumstances, either, but they made different decisions and pursued different paths. And that’s why we’re rooting for them! Thanks so much for commenting, Michelle!

  2. Zoe @ Stories on Stage

    I agree with this review completely Brooke. 🙂 I was a bit skeptical when it was announced, but Marissa Meyer managed to write it in a way that was both emotional and pheonominal. It was so interesting – and sad at the same time – to see how Levana turned from a young princess into a power-hungry queen and how everything in her life affected her psychologically. Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! ♥
    Zoe @ Stories on Stage recently posted…Red QueenMy Profile

    1. brooke Post author

      Thank you, Zoe!! 🙂 You’re so right – my emotions were torn because I was both fascinated and disgusted with Levana’s psychological transformation. And it was weird to sort of know how it was going to end, but to keep wishing Levana might make a different choice. Now I’m really looking forward to reading Winter (I didn’t think it was possible to be more excited than I already was!), because I want Levana’s story to have a satisfying conclusion as well.

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