Thursday, January 21, 2016

Fairest | by: Marissa Meyer

Between the third and fourth novels of the fairytale- and Sailor Moon-based Lunar Chronicles series, Marissa Meyer treated fans to a prequel about the series' villain, Queen Levana: Fairest. This short novel begins with the assassination of Levana's parents and shows the evolution of her character in the events following that particular episode. It provides a great deal of insight not only about Levana, but her family in general - especially her sister Channary. It even answers the question all Lunar Chronicles fans have been asking - what does Levana really look like under the glamour, under the veil?

I must admit that despite being a huge fan of the Lunar Chronicles series, I wasn't excited for Fairest. Why? Well, it seems like most villains' stories follow the same structure: The started out (mostly) normal, something bad happened that isn't entirely uncommon in the grand scheme of terrible things that can happen even in the real world, and they were so affected by what happened that they turn into a bit of a psychopath even if you can't quite understand their rationales.

I suppose I forgot for a hot minute that Marissa Meyer knows what she's doing and underestimated her ability to paint this character's picture. Fairest is actually really good and it breaks the pattern I mentioned before. If Levana's pattern of development could be labeled, it be something like this: She started out crazy as her whole family was batshit crazy to begin with, and in baby steps she just got crazier and crazier. Furthermore, the ONE THING that happened to her (I refuse to spoil) just does not generally happen to people. This girl's circumstances are just... Messed up. She's messed up. And her sister Channary? She is absolutely insane. I feel like I have a whole new understanding of this family after reading Fairest. Levana's deep attachment to Sybil is also explained.

This prequel also provides a bit of insight on exactly who Winter is and what her upbringing was like. It was fun to see cameo appearances of the heroes we've read about in the series as children. Winter, Jacin, and Cinder playing together - isn't that adorable? Well, until that thing that happens that we all know about from the first novel, Cinder. Plus, I really liked Evret and Solstice... The way that Levana treated Evret really enforced how Levana is such a psycho that she doesn't even realize it. From her perspective, she's not quite as manipulative as she actually is.

So, even though I originally thought that Levana's history wouldn't be as exiting to read about, I liked Fairest a lot. I plowed through this quick read in one day, curious to discover more about this villain's past and how it formed her future. Now that I know Levana's whole story, I am prepared for the series' monstrous 800-page conclusion, Winter... but I still don't want the Lunar Chronicles to end!

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