Let me be the first to say I LOVE ‘The Lunar Chronicles’ and that they embody everything good and righteous in this world. BUT, I’m a little tied up over ‘Fairest’, the prequel to the series, giving you a look into Levana, the wicked queen’s backstory. *cue rippling harp music* It was interesting to find the root of Levana’s wickedness, however, Levana’s actions throughout the book made me feel very uncomfortable, leading me to give this a quite low rating. As she is the villain, I guess the book was doing its job, and so deserves a high rating…I don’t know, though I do know Marissa Meyer is an excellent story teller, which warrants at least a star alone.
In the story (novella?) we get to see Levana when she’s 15, and she ages throughout until she reaches…about 27? As the younger sister, Levana is only a princess and must follow the will of her sister, Channary, who is crowned queen of Luna pretty quickly after their parents die at the beginning. (Classic Disney-style plot line) But Levana is no Anna, and Channary is NOT Elsa. Both women are inherently evil, but we’ll get to that later. Levana sets her sights on a palace guard, and falls in love, but when you’re evil and royalty, this can only go well, right? Well…
Oh god. Here’s where things got uncomfortable. Levana didn’t really seem to understand love, and what it was. The guard, Evret, was kind to her, but he didn’t love her. The princess used her powers to manipulate Evret’s feelings and force him to become her love puppet. She lulled herself into thinking his feelings were genuine, when he was already in love WITH HIS WIFE! I know, we were probably meant to sympathise with Levana, the unloved girl under the thumb of her evil sister, but the scenes were Evret was controlled to love her…just made me squirm. Evret’s wife then died, which only stoked Levana’s love fire, when she glamoured herself to look like the wife, in order to trick Evret. Talk about creepy. I just couldn’t get past the manipulative romance and Levana’s selfish motives. I literally had to put the book down and cleanse my mind of her games.
Normally, when a villain is given an inevitably tragic backstory, you re-think your initial feelings for them. This didn’t happen for me. Sure, Channery shouldn’t have traumatised her sister, but the event only planted the seed that led to the destruction of who would become Cinder. I was hoping we’d see Levana as a good, innocent girl, before she became evil, but it seemed she was just born into a family of wickedness, and never knew what it was like to be nice, or to be loved.
I guess, what made the book bearable were the little mentions of the younger generation characters. Winter was born in the book, the daughter of Evret and her first wife, making Levana the evil step-mother and aligning with the ‘fairest of them all’ story. Little Jacin was also around, protecting Winter since they were babies. (Please let it be a love match in the final book!) Obviously, Cinder was ‘destroyed’, and Cress was also born, though only noticeable by her ‘shell’ quality and elderly parents. The only girl missing was Scarlet. It was really cute to spot them, and to read about Winter and Cinder being BFF babies before the ‘accident’. I hope they have a cute relationship in the final book, to represent that.
Overall, it was a good, supplementary story. Not a lot happened that we didn’t already know about, expect the Evret love story that must have caused Levana to be so bitter and cruel. I liked seeing the plague plot unravel on Luna before it was sent to Earth. This is definitely a great book for superfans of the series, but if you didn’t completely LOVE ‘The Lunar Chronicles’, it would be OK to leave Fairest on the shelf. It’s not 100% necessary to the plot, just an addition. Because of my dislike of the character and the romance, I’ve only given ‘Fairest’ 2 stars, but I hold high hopes for the coming of ‘Winter’!