Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Book Review - Marissa Meyer's Fairest

Fairiest by Marrisa Meyer
Published by: Feiwel and Friends
Publication Date: January 27th, 2015
Format: Hardcover, 272 Pages
Rating: ★★★★
To Buy

Life as a princess isn't all it's cracked up to be for Levana. Her sister, Channery, has just become Queen of Luna after their parents assassination. A job her sister isn't the least cut out for in Levana's opinion. Levana knows that even at fifteen she'd be a far better queen, yet she is relegated to a joke by her sister and others. Deformed as a young child she hides behind her glamour in a cold friendless world till one day a palace guard she has secretly cared for shows her a kindness. This small act by Evret changes everything. She sees a new life for her, a life where she is a loving mother and a beloved Queen. There's just some impediments to this dream. Impediments whose removal is for the good of Luna.

My first reaction to hearing about Fairest was a lack of interest bordering on complete indifference. The story seemed as if it held the same weight as a tie-in short story or e-book exclusive novella, to be read eventually but not now. Then I found out that it was being released when I thought Winter was going to be coming out and my opinion changed to begrudging it's existence. I didn't want a book about the wicked queen, I wanted the end to this saga I've grown to love. Yes, I might have stamped my foot a little, but who can blame me? I should have trusted Meyer more... though this book did make me want Winter even more, so, double edged sword there Marissa. Double edged sword.

To me Levana has always just been the annoying Big Bad in the Buffy sense. She seemed very one dimensional, "Destroy Earth!" "Marry Price Charming!" "Kill Cinder!" She had a one track mind and just pissed me off with all her meddling. Now, well, she's still pissing me off, but she's now something more, she's fascinating. Levana's story doesn't make her sympathetic, per se, and not even really relatable, I mean the things she does, well, yikes. But by living in her headspace for a few hundred pages you understood her and in the end pitied her. She's like a child who has never really grown up emotionally. The side of her that is cold and calculating and is a good leader to her people has thrived, but her heart stalled out long ago. The betrayal of her sister when they were still in the nursery emotionally broke her so that she equates love with control. Therefore she sees nothing wrong with how she manipulates her husband. How can we, as readers, blame her fully for what she's done? Yes, she is evil, but it comes from such a sad place that pity is the only feeling you are left with. Plus, there's no better way to piss off a megalomaniacal dictator then to pity them!

But the amazing thing that Meyer has done is to show us the similarities between Levana and Cinder. Before and even after we knew that Cinder was Lunar, we would never have guessed that her and Levana could be so similar. Cinder would recoil at the idea, much as she recoils at the Lunar blood in her veins, but the similarities highlight the differences all the more. We see the moments that shaped both their lvies. Both parentless and deformed at a young age, we see how two people can respond to the same set of circumstances. Levana became warped and power hungry, while Cinder, Cinder is kind. Just look at how the two took the death of their sisters from disease. Levana didn't try to help Channery, just waited till she died to assume the thrown. Whereas Cinder did everything in her power to save Peony. This book just wants you to hug Cinder and reassure her that in no way is she like Levana, she couldn't be even if she tried.

We also finally got to see Luna! For so long it's just been this empire in the sky, like a faceless Death Star. In Cress we got some tantalizing glimpses of what the moon colony is like, but no real time to come to grips with this other realm. We, quite literally, are the Earthens with no idea of the alien life above, just the fear. That light shining down on us at night is the enemy. Yet we need to understand it in order to fully get Cinder, she is, after all, their true Queen. In Fairest with Levana we get to see what palace life is like, but it's really through her husband Evret and his first wife, Solstice, that we get more a grasp on everyday life on the moon. Plus the little hints and snippets heard around the castle about unrest, all of this is giving us a clearer view of what Cinder will face in the final battle to come.

And that is where this book is most valuable. Fairest is background couched in a delicious story. We need to know about Cinder's mother and her claim to the throne. We need to know about Levana's reign. We need to know if there really is unrest on Luna. This is all valuable information that we need in order for us to fully get Winter and have a satisfying conclusion to this amazing series. So while, yes, I did initially have disdain for this book's existence, I now realize how much I needed it in my life. More then that, I realize I did need it before Winter. Of course, now that I've finished Fairiest I think it's only fair that Winter comes. Soon rather then later. Winter is coming!


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