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!