Fairest by Marissa Meyer acts as a prequel to The Lunar Chronicles series and it gives us the full backstory of Queen Levana. (I’ve previously reviewed the first book in the series, Cinder.) The book was marketed as a full length novel with illustrations but it’s only about 200 pages and the only illustration is on the front and back inside covers. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an absolutely stunning illustration of the palace on Luna and I could stare at it for hours, but it just wasn’t what I was expecting. We also get to read the first three chapters of Winter which is the final installment in The Lunar Chronicles which is being released in November (after being pushed back).
It’s so rare for us readers to get a full 200 page novella dedicated to a villain’s past and I’m so grateful that we were allotted the opportunity with Levana. However, her backstory did not make me pity her or help me to understand why she is the way she is. Levana is a terrible person through and through and she’s been making awful decisions since she was a child. She is manipulative and constantly uses her powers to get what she wants. She feels no remorse about taking the lives of those who oppose her and enslaving those who she craves acceptance from. I loved getting to read about the early stages of the development of letumosis, and about the younger versions of Princess Selene and Princess Winter. I also can see why Levana is acting the way she currently is towards Prince Kai in the current storyline.
Fairest is a quick paced read that any reader would be able to consume it in one sitting. I didn’t like that it wasn’t broken up into chapters (but instead with little section breaks). It also did nothing to make me feel pity for Queen Levana. If anything, I just want Cinder, Scarlet, Cress and Prince Kai to defeat her even more. At times it was hard for me to read Fairest because the things Levana did made me really uncomfortable. While it’s not necessary to read Fairest if you’re involved in the quartet, I think it enriches the story which makes it worth checking out. I’m glad that I finished the book despite how mad it made me at points. There are so many past events that relate to what’s transpiring in the main storyline that any Lunar Chronicles fan will be pleased overall with the novella. Plus it’s a small fix to help us until Winter!
In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, 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. (via Goodreads)