Fairest, first published January 2015, is a novella that takes place in the Lunar Chronicles between the third book Cress and fourth book that came out last month – Winter… You can see my reviews for the series here. It is a tale from Marissa Meyer about queen Levana and how she grew up to be what or who she is.
The story takes us to Levana’s childhood and pictures her relationship with sister and it’s importance in her young, developing character. As children of royalties Levana and her sister Channary don’t receive much attention or love from their parents and Levana is always left in the shadow of her evil, but beautiful sister. She tries to change and believes it possible, but for everyone around she is still the lonely and ugly ‘baby sister’ of Channary and once her sister dies, Levana sees a chance and snatches it.
I am really sad that this book doesn’t have a cover themed in the theme the other books in the series have and it just stands out, I think I might forgive it, if I would like the cover, but I don’t, I dislike it so much. I was imagining Levana different with the veil and this just kind of reminds me of the army of dead (the one Aragorn summons) in Lord of the Rings (woops, LoTR spoiler). But nevertheless, I could look past the cover I disliked, to see a wonderful book. Don’t get me wrong – it is not adorable, it is violent, scary, brutal and unjust, but I really liked it.
First of all, I do not stand in the pool of people who hate Levana even more after reading this book, not even close. And I know that there are many who hated her so, so much before and they do even more after reading this book, but I got exactly what I came for – I saw the human in her.
Levana’s parents are ignorant rulers, who do not care about their daughters, which leads to Channary growing up incredibly evil and spoiled, from early on in this book we get hints that it is her fault that Levana is not accepted by society or really… anyone. And it is true, she is a bad human being, she mocks Levana every single day about her looks or scars not minding the fact that Chanarry was the one who gave Levana the scars. She is a despicable human being (or you know… a Lunar being) and acts like a slut, yet she is royalty and no one objects, not even her parents.
I honestly feel like somehow people have overlooked the fact that it is in a big part Channary’s fault that Levana became who she was and that pains me a lot, because family is the thing we are most influenced by and yet the other readers and reviewers seem to overlook that and blame Levana alone for ‘not changing’. I do not excuse the things Levana did, but I do feel that she gets a bit too much bashing. Bad influence in family is quite a problem, it doesn’t always have to be alcohol or narcotics. It can also be a psychological or physical terror and it doesn’t always happen only in the poor families.
Which made me wonder, if Throne would have had a brother, wouldn’t the situation be quite similar? He was a liar and did things only for his good, he had a goal and he went for it, despising his parents and people around. You might say that Throne wasn’t so bad, but he as well stole things, cheated and lied and if he would have a use for younger sibling in order to get money for his goal, I’m sure he would. And although he wasn’t as bad and evil as Levana or Channery, I feel like he had every chance, if only he would have been in the same situations as Levana. Thorne might have been in a rich family, but Levana was in a royal one.
And that is pretty much how I look at this book and this character – Levana wasn’t a bad seed in my opinion, she was smart and gifted, but she grew up in a cruel envrionment, which slowly hardened her heart, the one thing that could have saved her was love, which she never received although she did have illusions of it, just as most of the teenage girls dream about the boys they like.
And once she became the person we know from the previous books in series, it was too late, she had destroyed her own life and changing it would mean a great deal of suffering and humiliation which she wasn’t ready to live through again. Which surely was an opinion and would have been nice, if she would take it, but what kind of book comes out of that?
And then again there’s the matter of politics, which is wonderfully described in this book, stressing many times that Luna is out of resources and that Earth has declined all Luna’s attempts to make an agreement for import. It is obvious that if a country is going to die on a rock from starving, something should be done about it. And it is just a normal course of action to try to persuade Earth into the trading agreements. I feel like there are double standards – it is alright to have war between countries on Earth, but when someone from Luna also wants to start a war, if we don’t trade, it is terrible and that Lunar country is the devil and has to be wiped out. How about ‘that Lunar country just wants to save its citizens’, while Earthens want to weaken Lunars to take Luna for themselves?
I do agree that there are many ways to treat this situation and Levana became mad of power as people sometimes tend to, because she decided that she doesn’t really want to have just a trading agreements, but she wants to be the queen of Earth, which obviously is the moment she steps over the line. But then again, we have seen Russia and Germany go to war (for what really?) and we have seen Napoleon conquer countries and crown himself the Emperor and we still have war around us, but this one fictional war is the one we cannot accept? Many things happen in this book that have actually happened in history, but yet we justify one and hate the other.
I felt like Levana’s decision to basically conquer Earth was a logical and political decision. The bit about crowing herself wasn’t, but everything else – was. Because why wouldn’t she?
I think her character had a great background for the queen Levana she grew up to become and that author did a really great job at picturing it in this book. I am indeed sad that Levana did loose her mind and had to become who she is in the series, but then again – if she wouldn’t have, the series most likely wouldn’t exist or wouldn’t be as good.
Overall I really liked this book, it gave me a great insight into Levana’s character, it helped me to understand her decisions and didn’t make me hate her more, it showed me the human she is with her weaknesses and sadness and how that in cases that are connected to a lot of power can lead to madness. She was and is in a need of help which will never happen and I do not hate her, I pity her, which, she would think is even worse.
This book is not really suitable for those who haven’t read the first three books, it contains a lot of spoilers and a bit of violent scenes, so be ready for that. It received four stars out of five on my goodreads page and got quite high in my booklist!
I know that I expressed some unpopular opinions of Thorne and Levana, but I feel that very often Thorne is justified only because he is ‘the good guy’ in the books, although in real life you could never predict, if a guy like him is of decent sort or not. And the same with Levana, it seems that many fail to see how she needed help and how her family was unjust to her, just to claim that she is evil and deserves it – she was just a child, when they were evil to her, which lead for her to grow up and to become one of them as well as lose her mind.
Anyway, I expect to see many opinions on this, perhaps you can change my mind and point out things to me that I didn’t notice or from the other hand – see the characters in my light and discover something new for yourself! Let me know in the comment section below what you think of this book and characters (in the projection of this book or the whole series) or, if there’s something you would recommend for me to read, you can put that down as well.