Book Review #24: Fairest by Marissa Meyer

Friday, 6 February 2015
Product details:
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Format: Hardcover
Length: 222 pages
Published: 2015
Rating: ☆☆☆

Source: Purchased
Queen Levana’s story is finally told.
Mirror, mirror on the wall,Who is the fairest of them all?
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.

Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.

Finally! I have my hands on a finished copy of Fairest and I could not wait to dive straight into it and devour it in one sitting, which I did. Since the publication date for Winter, the final book in The Lunar Chronicles series kept getting pushed back and now is set for Winter 2015, I was so overjoyed to hear we would be getting a short book that details the life of the antagonist Queen Levana before the series began. I literally squealed. The Lunar Chronicles is so far my favourite series to date and I'm definitely not going to turn down a new book from Marissa Meyer, even if Winter has been pushed back multiple times. We'll let her off. So what did I think of this prequel to The Lunar Chronicles after all of my hype?

Cover -  Okay the publishing company has done it again. Whoever designed this magnificent cover from Feiwel and Friends publishing house deserves so much credit because this cover is absolutely stunning. Similarly to the other covers of the series, the central image really captures the whole focus of the character in these novels. For Cinder it was the shoe, Scarlet the red cape, Cress the hair and now for Queen Levana we have the famous 'magic' mirror. "Mirror,Mirror on the Wall, who's the fairest of them all?" In the reflection we see the the glamorous image of Queen Levana, covered in her white veil. Okay, when I imagined Levana I never quite imagined her as creepy as in this photo, but it does the job well and definitely matches her mysterious demeanour. Can we talk about the mirror itself as well? Marissa even stated that she loved the design of the mirror so much that she went back and rewrote the scene with it in so that it would match the image on the cover. Surely that shows just how amazing the design of this cover is???

Plot - Ahhhh I loved the plot of this book. I was expecting possibly just a small glimpse into why Levana wanted to marry Prince Kai, but never did I expect to receive what we get in this novel. We see Levana right before she became queen, back after her parents died and Channery took the throne. We get an insight into her relationships with Princess Selene and Winter as well as seeing how she became the spiteful and demented Queen Levana we all see throughout the Lunar Chronicles. I really loved the pacing of this book as well. Nothing ever felt rushed as I was reading it and Marissa Meyer did a fantastic job of building up the pace as the novel progressed which replicated well the emotions of Levana's character. Even though this book was ultimately a character study of Levana, we also get to see the plot take root in the series. We get insight into the virus sent to earth and her plans with what to do with the shells. It gives the whole series a wonderful layer of foundation. Just while I remind myself, who could say no to the first three chapters of Winter? They were beautiful. I am definitely looking forward to see how the relationship between Winter and Jacin progresses from those beautiful and touching scenes. Obviously we were introduced to their relationships as children a bit in Fairest but I am looking forward to seeing how this develops.

Characters -  Obviously in this novel we get a better insight to Levana's character which I really appreciate. In my opinion whilst reading the Lunar Chronicles so far I really despised Levana, being the evil antagonist that she is portrayed as. However, after reading Fairest I have to admit although I see why she is the antagonist, I had moments during her past where I felt genuinely sorry for her. Especially how she was being treated by her older sister Channary.  Levana grew up with Channary constantly teasing her for her looks, and saying things that would affect Levana long after her childhood… probably not the best upbringing for such a power hungry, egotistical soon-to-be queen. The tragedy that brought about her scars was truly horrific and having this low self-image cost Levana a lot. She even becomes so deeply lost inside her own delusions that she misses out on so much. Her craving of what she thinks is love only makes her more blind to what she's actually denying herself and that she's lost in a vicious cycle of her own doings. What really got to me as well was just how creepy Levana could be.

"Levana had not seen the bodies, but she had seen the bedrooms the next morning, and her first thought was that all that blood would make a very pretty rouge on her lips."

Those bodies? Yeah, they were her PARENTS. Her parents who had been MURDERED. What on earth?! THAT IS CREEPY AS HELL. WHO DOES THAT?! I also appreciated how this novel progressed and tackled Levana's slow descent into a form of mental illness and when it came to the final scene I was reminded for my utter hatred of the woman. So what about Channary's character? Levana's sister. Oh my goodness when I thought a person couldn't get worse than Levana. I was so wrong. Besides her maternal instinct for her daughter, I felt no sort of remorse for her when she died. I'm sorry but what she did to Levana when she was younger? That was horrendous and really painful to read about. To think of sisterly love turned wrong. Evret's character however I had to feel some sympathy for. Throughout the novel is gradually is being forced into Levana's life and after the death of his wife, Levana alters her glamour to look like her. I'm sorry but if my stalker decided to dress up in the skin of my dead wife I would be freaking out beyond compare. I think I would have liked to have seen a bit more on Evret's part in terms of defending himself against Levana. I mean I understand his determination not to go against the crown but still I felt that he could have been developed a bit more to show the development of his anger and misery. After all it's a form of torture. 

Cons -  Now this really isn't so much of a con section more than a sense of false advertising for the novel. Some people said that they expected a full length novel, but come on I think 200 odd pages isn't a bad size, it's longer than the average novella and I can't really see how much more the story could have developed. One thing however that I felt was seen as a bit of a marketing ploy was the promise of full colour illustrations. Illustrations plural. Now don't get me wrong I think the illustration we were given (seen here, all credit goes to the uploader) were absolutely stunning but these were the endpapers. I was expecting illustrations throughout the novel so I was a tad disappointed on that behalf. Besides that though it wasn't a huge con for me.

So overall I thought this was a wonderful instalment in the Lunar Chronicles series and I feel is a necessary read before going into Winter so that you can fully understand the relationships behind the new character's introduced in the final book as well as understanding Levana's motives behind everything. I award Fairest the full 5/5 stars!

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