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Fairest Paperback – February 2, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—This series prequel delves into Queen Levana's past, beginning with her parents' funeral when she was 15. Her vain and cruel sister Channery will now become queen, a position of power and responsibility. While Channery wants the former, she has no interest in the latter, and Levana knows that she would make a better queen. She also covets the love of Evret Hayle, a happily married royal guard with a baby on the way. After his wife's death, Levana uses her glamour to manipulate him physically and emotionally in an attempt to achieve her warped understanding of love. Once she has that, her thoughts shift to the other thing wants: the throne. Rebecca Soler meets the challenge of inhabiting Levana over the span of about 10 years, reflecting the changes in Levana's psyche with changes in her voice that alternate between light, calculating, and desperate. Without the action and wryness that characterizes the other titles in the series, this story is darker and moves at a slower pace. While it does give listeners insight into Levana's past and motivations, it will leave them even more anxious for the conclusion with the return of Cinder and company. VERDICT Recommended to fans of the series.—Amanda Raklovits, Champaign Public Library, IL --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
“She loves fiercely and kills with little remorse; her iron grip over the Lunar people is equal parts impressive and terrifying. Queen Levana from "The Lunar Chronicles'" is more than a beautiful villain. In this prequel, Meyer explains how she went from lonely, shy second daughter to the most feared and relentless woman in the universe. . . . Thorough world-building and fascinating character development will thrill fans and entice new readers.” ―School Library Journal --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
This book is a very focussed character study of Queen Levana and how she turned from a naive, self absorbed young girl into the tyrant our heroines are trying to depose. There is little in the way of worldbuilding or major plot development. It remains mostly confined to the Lunar Royal Palace.
What I liked
Character development. This is the focus of the book and is excellently done. We follow Levana’s progression from a self absorbed, naive young girl to the vicious despot of the later books. I appreciated how each step and decision she took along that path was small and logical at the time but each developed her character as it turned out to be. I found her an interesting character, and at many points she gained my sympathy for what she went through.
Character cameos. Many of the characters from the later books made cameo appearances as their younger selves. Even if they weren’t specifically named as such it was great fun to spot Cinder, Cress, Kai and other characters.
Audiobook narration. Once again narration is provided by Rebecca Soler who did the narration for the other books in the series. She does a brilliant job of capturing the characters’ voices and I hope she continues for Winter, the final book in the series.
What I didn’t like
Very expensive for such a short book. This book is really a novella - barely 272 pages or 6 hours and 36 minutes of audiobook - and yet is was priced comparatively expensively. I paid the price but a bit more resentfully than for other books.
No chapter breaks. The book is written in one long narrative unbroken into chapters. Now, I am a working woman and I don’t have the luxury of settling down to long chunks of several hours’ reading. For me, the chapter breaks are valuable to give me a good place to stop.
Not Whispersync for Voice compatible. In other words, the ebook and the audiobook didn’t sync. Combined with the lack of chapter breaks, it made switching between ebook and audiobook a very frustrating experience. If you’re only enjoying the book in one medium this won’t be an issue for you, but I did contribute to my lack of enjoyment.
Less engaging protagonist. Yes, Levana is a fascinating character and yes, I enjoyed learning about her backstory. However, it cannot be said that she is immediately likeable or engaging in the way that Cinder, Scarlet and Cress are.
Less humour. One of the fun parts of The Lunar Chronicles is the banter that is exchanged between our main characters. This was missing from Fairest - Levana’s Story. Thinking back, it’s because in this book we spend very little time with characters who actually like and respect each other. This book contains the first few chapters of Winter, which I listened to, including a scene on the Rampion and I immediately felt “yes, THIS is the Lunar Chronicles I know and love!"
To summarise, while I enjoyed Fairest - Levana’s Story, for me it wasn’t a must-read part of The Lunar Chronicles. Certainly, it shouldn’t be the first book you read in the series. It does provide an interesting expansion to the series though.
I gave Fairest - Levana’s Story 3.5 stars out of five.
A twisted fairytale that shows the dark side of an happily ever after. Told in the POV of our favorite evil Queen from the explosive debt that shook the YA genre with a fairytale that has been told time and time again, but not quite as delicious and addicting as CINDER!
Levana story is finally told, and it is enough to make you recoil in revulsion, yet, find a tad bit of sympathy for our evil Queen that's determined to rule the world, making all cower and serve her evil purposes.
Marrissa Meyer is a MASTERMIND of a storyteller!! I love everything this woman writes. She creates the most unique, addicting, oddly disturbing in this case, worlds that could awaken any feelings that have never been roused. Meyer's takes this story by force with her vivid details, developed characterization, flush writing, uniquely enthralling world-building and tantalizing anticipation that seizes you from the first page and does not let up until the very end. FAIREST is another exquisite hit for Meyer's!
When I read CINDER last year I fell head over heels in love with the unique fairytale world, but I despised, yet was fascinated with the evil villain Levana. I had a love/hate relationship with her. On one hand I thought she was despicable and the worst kind of evil, but I also found her the best villain for the story, and this series wouldn't be the same without her. She fit so well with the complex world and all her evil jabs were so riveting as she unleashed her manipulation and wrath on whom ever she chooses. She's as evil as it comes, and I loved the lengths she would go to get what she wanted. She was the perfect villain for this world. She's vile, evil, manipulative, selfish, conceited with her "false beauty" and willing to kill anyone who gets in her way to the throne she wants, and I LOVED every second of all that evilness.
But in FAIREST we get to see how she became the evil queen everyone feared and despised, and the reasons that turned her heart to ice. And trust me, none of what she does is excusable, but you can kinda understand how she was able to become so cruel. I loved reading Levana's POV, it was engrossing to see how she went from the shy, naive, lonely, disfigured girl, to the unstoppable evil queen that bathed her palace walls in blood to rise to the top. And with the power she wielded, she became unstoppable.
In a way I felt sorry for Levana, and at times caught myself even liking her (I said at times, not always. ;) She was very lonely, tortured by her older sister and disfigured by her cruelty. We didn't get to know her parents, the former king and queen of Luna, but from what I gathered from this book, they didn't care about Levana either. They pretty much abandoned her and didn't so much as bat their eye when she was around. And with extreme self esteem issues due to her disfigurement and lack of love, her hate manifested and grew into something evil. Then slowly, very slowly she began to see life very different, a dark place that bent to her will. And when her sister Queen Channary died, leaving the now crown princess Selene the heir to the Luna throne, Levana was able to become the queen regent that would rule all of Luna until Selene turned thirteen. With no one left to stop her, Levana now had the authority she needed to rule all of Luna with an iron fist, lashing out with her cruelty and thirst for blood. Now, if only she could get rid of Princess Selene . . . .
Fifteenth year old Levana becomes crown princess to all of Luna after her parents are brutally murdered by a shell seeking retribution for the their ill-willed rule. She's always been neglected, unloved and wanted by everyone including her parents and torturous sister. And after the forced "accident" the made her disfigured, she is more ugly then anyone could of imagined. She tries to brighten her life by using her glamour to hide her true self by wearing a false mask of beauty. The exact opposite of what truly lies on the outside, slowly becomes the inside, until she is falsely beautiful, but truly ugly both inside and out.
Each day torment by her sister Channary, now the Queen of Luna, and exiled by the rest of the court, Levana finds herself daydreaming about a handsome guard who she blindly thinks cares about her. But he's uninterested and ten years her senior, and married to the most beautifulest woman in all of Luna, and she just so happens to be carrying his child. But Levana doesn't care, she stupidly thinks he loves her, and each day her desire and false love grows, becoming hardened and forceful, and viscous and deceiving, until one day she is determined to take what she wants, one way or another he will be hers . . .
Levana's world slowly starts to unravel, but for her, it starts to come together. She will marry the man she wants, she will become his child's mother, she will take what should be hers, she will murder for what is rightfully hers, and she will stop at nothing to not only be the queen of all Luna, but the Empress to all of earth. . .
Power, blood, murder, destruction and false beauty bath the path to Levana's evil reign, and she will hold nothing back has she takes what she's destine to have. Fate has given her all the glories in her world, because she is the best Queen that has ever sat on the Lunar throne, because she is . . .
THE FAIREST OF THEM ALL . . .
Levana's story takes us through the mind of a sociopath, and the fascinating back story of how she became the evil Lunar Queen. FAIREST is a must read for all Lunar fans, I think it'll give you an open mind to the woman behind all the evilness in The Lunar Chronicles. She's an evil, heartless, despicable women, that's equal parts intriguing as she is revolting, and has quickly become my new favorite villain!
Overall, FAIREST was just what I needed to see this world from both sides. This book had great back story and we get to see true glimpses of Levana's true self. I think it puts her character into perspective and helps us understand (but not agree with) some of her choices. This book was a great addition to THE LUNAR CHRONICLES that brings it's own wicked story and is definitely a must read for any Lunar fan!!!