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Review: Fairest by Marissa Meyer (@jessicadhaluska, @marissa_meyer)

Review: Fairest by Marissa Meyer (@jessicadhaluska, @marissa_meyer)
Fairest by Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #0.1
Published by Feiwel & Friends
Published on: January 27 2015
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 272
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
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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.


scifi wtf2 outofthisworld

WELP. We used to have the WTF Elephant. Now we have the WTF fork. BUT fork or elephant, the principle is the same.

It didn’t occur to me that some readers might skip this installment of The Lunar Chronicles, counting it as a novella. Technically, while being a prequel, I think it’s still a full-length novel. I don’t know the word count, but I did the math (with a calculator, and everything), and even excluding the preview of Winter that begins at 79%, Levana’s story is still over 200 pages.

Fyi.

And regardless, any fan of the series will want to read this book, b/c:

1. What does Levana really look like under that veil?

2. What happened to Levana’s husband, and how did Winter end up in her care?

3. What is the depth of Levana’s evil?

And those are just a few of the questions that Fairest answers.

Also . . . as it turns out, Levana might just be as crazy as she is nefarious. The end result is the same, of course, but I was surprised. If she was simply a narcissist, I might not have been, and that’s definitely part of the crazy, but guys . . . this woman is diabolically insane.

It’s uncomfortable.

I had the misfortune of agreeing with my husband to Pillars of the Earth as our holiday driving read this year . . . I loathed it. And for once I didn’t have to analyze what it was that made me loathe it: there are just some people’s heads you don’t want to be inside of.

Clearly, I didn’t hate Fairest, but sharing Levana’s headspace is . . . well, it’s stressful, I was full of stress. And awkward. I don’t think I’d like to see a picture of myself while I was reading, b/c I’m pretty sure if my face wasn’t stuck in perpetual grimace, my eyebrows were at my hairline with my eyes bugging out of my head, b/c WTF?

Levana had not seen the bodies, but she had seen the bedrooms the next morning, and her first thought was that all that blood would make a very pretty rouge on her lips.

Those bodies? Yeah, they were her PARENTS. Her parents who had been MURDERED. And that is the least of it.

In addition to finding out what’s going on under that veil, you also find out why she choose the specific glamour she uses . . . and it is . . . W-H-O-A (and I’m totally making that face again).

Are there reasons for the CRAY?

Oh yeah. And you learn those too.

Did it make Levana a more sympathetic character?

NOPE. Not to me, anyway. Just like Channary (Cinder’s mother) wasn’t made a more sympathetic character just b/c she showed a few surprisingly maternal instincts.

Am I a hardass? Maybe. Probably. But I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: it’s not what you’ve been through, it’s how you handle it that matters, and I have a sneaking suspicion that even without the crazy (b/c Bad Things), Levana would still be diabolical.

Overall, Fairest paints an unambiguous portrait of the most vile villain to ever plague (HA!) both Lunars and Earthens. It cleverly weaves together multiple threads from the characters that readers have grown to know and love in previous installments of The Lunar Chronicles, and reveals, step-by-murderous-and-entitled-step, how Levana and her immediate family have sown the seeds of their own inevitable downfall. Highly recommended.

The Lunar Chronicles:



My Review

My Review

My Review


 
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My name is Jessica and I live in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I’m trying my hand at writing, but mostly I read. My favorite genres are Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy, and the YA versions of those genres, but if there is a book of a different color getting lots of buzz, I’ll read it too, just to be informed. If I’m not reading or writing, I’m probably on Goodreads or Pinterest or baking blueberry pies because I love them.

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78 Comments

  1. A WTF fork?? I think I prefered the elephant, but still, very WTF too!

    I’m really looking forward to reading this book even if I’m sure I’ll be uncomfortable and will need something with puppies and rainbows afterwards, but I always love to see villains having more to them than just pure evil, to have more complexities to them, and it seems that Levana aside from the pure mad evil crazy has a past that is very interesting (if uncomfortable) to read about!

    Great review Jessica! Cannot wait for my preorder to arrive!
    Pili recently posted…Friday Reads: Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt!!

    • Upon reflection, it occurs to me that it’s really a “what the fork?!”

      You will def. need need puppies and rainbows after this book, but I maintain that it’s totally worth it (and just thinking about some of the CRAY that goes on in that woman’s head has me making the face AGAIN). Wuh.

  2. To be honest I wasn’t all that interested in this book but because of your review I’m dying to read it! I like that we can learn why she’s insane but doesn’t become sympathetic.

    • No need to fear becoming sympathetic to Levana. Truly. You may understand her better, but knowing why someone is a crazy bitch, does not negate that they’re a crazy bitch.

  3. Okay, don’t kill me but…I haven’t read any of the chronicles. Obviously, I should. Its really sad because I actually some on my kindle thanks to my trendy daughter. Fairest looks like a great read, because I just love twisted people. Can this be read as a standalone?
    Karen Blue recently posted…THE MARTIAN by Andy Weir

    • Okay. I won’t kill you. But SERIOUSLY, you need to take advantage of your daughter’s trendiness, b/c amazing. As for reading it as a standalone . . . I can’t really be objective, b/c I’ve read all the other books–repeatedly–but my general rule is that “prequels” can only be read as standalones if they predate the first installment, which this one clearly doesn’t . . . *shrugs*

  4. I am so behind in this series as I have only listened to Cinder, I have Scarlet to listen to and I am hoping to get to it soon but I got a few review listens to throw in first. 🙂 I think this one sounds sort of interesting and creepy..lol. 🙂 I always read the novellas!
    Stormi recently posted…Book Review: Keep Me Safe by Maya Banks

    • SCARLET IS MY FAVORITE. And I always read the novellas too 😉 Seriously hoping you get back to the series soon, b/c it’s soooooo good.

  5. I am so excited for this! I need to get caught up on this series so I can read this!

    Happy Friday Jessica and wonderful review!
    kindlemom1 recently posted…Review: A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas

    • Thanks! And yes, you do need to get caught up. But you’ve got until November before the LAST book comes out 😉

  6. I did a quick diagonal read of your review, Jessica, because I haven’t started this series yet, even if I have it on my kindle.
    I’m glad you enjoyed even this short bridge novella, though, it makes me feel like I should start reading this sooner than I had planned.
    Have a fantastic Friday.
    Lexxie recently posted…Thirsty Thursday and Hungry Hearts #1

    • Thanks! And you totally should, Lexxie. This is one of my favorite YA series, and all four books have been consistently fantastic.

  7. I still have not read that series, but I really need to. It sounds so good!
    Cynthia recently posted…Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award!

    • It is really good, and you should totally get started on it. I think the first three books are all still on sale for $2.99 each 😉

  8. I was really hoping that this book would show Levana’s redeeming qualities, but it doesn’t sound like that’s possible. I would like to see how Winter came into her care, though.
    Joy // Joyousreads recently posted…[488]: The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami

    • I didn’t want to feel sorry for Levana, LOL. *shrugs* But there’s a lot more going on then just her evilness. I saw it in your book haul pic, so I hope you like it 😉

  9. I so can’t wait to read this! I ordered it online and it will be coming in with another pre-order. I love this series and I’m excited to learn more about our villain 🙂
    Kelsey recently posted…Question: Blogging Routine

    • I doubt you’ll be disappointed! You will learn more than you ever missed to know about Levana, LOL 😉

  10. I have only read first book in this series, but someday I’ll read the rest, including this one.
    BookaholicCat recently posted…Review: The Five Stages of Falling in Love by Rachel Higginson

    • Marcela! Book 2 is best one! It’s up there at the top of my YA favorites list 😉

  11. I was wondering about this story! I pre-ordered it then canceled because I didn’t *really* want to read about the Queen, I want Winter and it was a little mini-temper tantrum. But now I’m thinking I might need to read this one, just so I can sample Levana’s flavor of nutbag, batshit crazy.
    Mary recently posted…Mini-Swarm Reviews: It’s a mystery!

    • LOL! I threw that same temper tantrum. I just didn’t follow through 😉 But that tantrum is indicative of you loving the series like I do, so yeah, I think you need to read it too.

  12. Awww, I miss the WTF Elephant! Although the WTF Fork is pretty fabulous too. I find it really interesting how Meyer decided to portray Levana. Am looking forward to reading Fairest (:
    Celine recently posted…Review: World War Z by Max Brooks

    • In addition to the WTFork, it also very interesting 😉 I hope you think so too.

  13. I agree I didn’t feel it made her more sympathetic at all. I’ve known people who’ve gone through some terrible shit and they still are wonderful people. It’s who you are and who you choose to be. If the whole “they’re a product of their environment were true” then amazing people wouldn’t rise out of the shitmound – you know what I mean!? Of course you do!

    But yes she was so twisted and I really enjoyed reading this because you can then have even more justification for hating her and hoping she gets the crap kicked out of her in the last book!
    Tabitha (Not Yet Read) recently posted…Review: Fairest by Marissa Meyer

    • EXACTLY. At some point, you have to stop bitching about what happened, and start living for the future. Or at least the present.

      And yes, this book is very vindicating. KILL HER! And slowly . . . 😉

  14. I just finished the audio last night, and even though it was disturbing, I liked that Meyer went all out with Levana. I’m glad she didn’t try to make us feel sorry for her. And that cover gives me the chills!
    Nereyda recently posted…Audiobook Review: The DUFF by Kody Keplinger!

    • Dude, that cover is seriously creepy. And yeah, I’m glad too. I did NOT want to feel like Levana got the short end of the stick. I want to hate her with confidence, LOL.

  15. I can’t believe you really whipped out the handy calc! Well I’m particular about page count too but I check Amazon if it’s not in GR. I’m lazy, I know LOL

    I just read Cinder and haven’t caught up with the rest. I don’t usually pick up prequel novellas but as you gave this high marks, I just might be persuaded to.

    P.S. Haven’t seen you around lady, I hope things are well!
    Braine Talk Supe recently posted…Loved It: Keep Me Safe & In His Keeping by Maya Banks + Series Giveaway

    • Eh. I just pushed the button at the top of my keyboard, LOL. And I usually check Amazon too, but I knew the preview of Winter was a significant chunk of the book, and OCD.

      And GET THEE TO SCARLET. I love this series in general, but Scarlet is far and away my favorite.

      And thanks! Things are good. Just getting back into the swing of things 😉

  16. Yea, this makes me feel like I’m missing out. I’ve only read the first book. I didn’t even realize this was considered a novella since it is an introduction. I’m so behind the times… 🙂
    Melissa (Books and Things) recently posted…Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs

    • Ordinarily, I would totally cut you some slack, b/c if anyone understands getting behind b/c TOO MANY BOOKS, it’s me. However, SCARLET, book 2, is friggin’ amazing, and so I must insist that you get with the times 😉

  17. I still haven’t started this series, even though I really want to. It’s always curious to hear how novella’s fit into the story and whether they are worth reading, so I a happy to hear this one does adds something to the plot, although I am not sure I want to be in that characters head either. Great review!

    btw I like those little icons you use on top of your reviews and had to lol a bit about the WTF fork and am now a bit curious which other reviews got that icon.
    Lola recently posted…Lola’s Kitchen: Green Curry Recipe

    • The elephant or the fork? B/c this is the first review that’s gotten the fork (but not the last). There were several that got the elephant though, LOL.

      And this is a really great series, I highly recommend it. Even if you decide to skip this one b/c too creepy 😉

  18. Whose decision was it to get rid of my favorite elephant? This upsets me greatly. And yes, I still have a desire to read this series, and I know I have told eveyrone I will, but these things happen. I will get to it.
    Nathan ( recently posted…Tough Traveling with E.L. Tettensor – Master of Plagues Blog Tour

    • Take it up with Carmel! *snickers* Although . . . I have to admit that I like the overall look of these better.

      And I hope you do get to it eventually, b/c seriously, as far as YA goes, this is some of the best.

  19. Yeah, I was afraid of that. I trusted her not to write Levana as a sympathetic protagonist when it was her own book which is good, but I wasn’t sure I could handle being in her screwy head and watching her actions up close. Still want to read it, but she terrifies me.
    Sophia Rose recently posted…The Great Pick Up Line with Red Handed: A Benediction Novel by Shelly Bell #TGPUL #Giveaway

    • LOL. That about covers it. But I’m glad I read it. I feel like I should get a medal, or a tee shirt or something 😉

  20. Man. Despite the awkwardness and stressful nature of Fairest, I’m still completely looking forward to it. Because it sounds like some great character development on Meyer’s part. (Though I also like well-written insane villains, so maybe there’s that too.)
    Amanda recently posted…How the Library Has Changed My Reading Habits {Amanda’s Discussion}

    • Either way, I’m almost positive you won’t regret reading it 😉

  21. Ugh, sounds a bit too crazy for me
    blodeuedd recently posted…#FitReaders: Weekly Check-In Jan 30 2015 and A Dark Guardian Review

  22. Levana sounds like a real psychopath. I’m actually ambivalent as to whether a “villain book” makes the baddie more or less sympathetic, but I do like to see character development and growth. Since we don’t know much about Levana from the main series anyway, I look forward to getting to know her more.
    Mogsy recently posted…Mogsy’s Bookshelf Roundup: New Arrivals, Backlist, What I’ve Read

    • I vary on a case by case basis. In this case, I did NOT want to feel sorry for the villain. But that’s consistent to the character Meyer created. We’re not supposed to feel sorry for her. And I’m not a lemming, but most authors are pretty good at eliciting the response they want. Unless they’re not, then I typically hate both them and the book, LOL. Regardless, I hope you like this one.

  23. This was on my January list, but other books got on its way. I hope to listen to it in few days. I’m glad the story is good, looking forward to it 🙂
    Lupdilup recently posted…Beyond Control Audiobook by Kit Rocha (Review)

    • Well, it’s been a few days, and if you haven’t gotten to it already, I hope you do soon 😉

  24. I have only read the first book in this series so I really need to play catch-up. This book does sound quite interesting if not disturbing, I’m glad you enjoyed this instalment.

    A great review Jessica! Sharon – Obsession with Books
    Sharon – Obsession with Books recently posted…Review: Stone Cold Touch by Jennifer L Armentrout

  25. Huh I was thinking that this one would make readers warm up to Levena but I guess this was just more of a book to help build more of her character, no? Anyway, I still do wanna read this because well, it’s by Marissa Meyer!

    Lovely review, hun <33

    • Thanks, Melanie! And yeah, I think it’s more of a look-inside-the-twisty-head-of-the-villain book than a poor-thing-b/c-reasons books. And thanks goodness for that 😉

  26. I wasn’t sure what was exactly the book because the cover is different but it’s nice to understand a little better. I confess that I’ve only tried Cinder but I need to try more, I’m a little late. Thanks for the review!

    • I really enjoy this series, Melliane. I’m glad you know what’s up with this installment, and I hope you get back to it some day 😉

  27. Hmm… Well, its good that you like dit but I think I’ll read the first books in the series first. Maybe it’ll affect my reading of Fairest if i’ll skip them. Great review, Jessica!! <3
    Paula M recently posted…ARC REVIEW: Burying Water by K.A Tucker a.k.a please remind me of everything again

    • Yeah, you should definitely read the other books first. My rule is that unless the prequel predates the first book, it should be read in the order it was published.

  28. Holy shiz, lady, you are making me scared as shit here D: but you also make me excited because I’m ALL FOR DISTURBING CHARACTERS! I love seeing how a villain thinks and what made them become that way, so I’m actually pumped up for this one even if that means insane levels of stress while reading. With your high review, I already know I won’t be raging about one-dimensional villains, which I hate above all.
    Faye le Potato recently posted…ARC Video Review: Half the World by Joe Abercrombie

    • YEP. No one-dimensional villains here, LOL. Just seriously disturbed and crazy ones 😉 I hope you like it, Faye!

  29. THIS IS EXACTLY WHY I WANT TO READ THIS. I know that she is batshit insane and I must know HOW insane. I want to be uncomfortable (and I also want that Winter preview).

    And surprisingly, this is shorter than I had expected it to be. Especially having a hardcover price.
    Amber Elise recently posted…Weekly Wrap Up: January 25-January 31, 2015

    • DUDE. You will know EXACTLY how insane she is by the time you’re finished.

      And yeah, that bugged me a bit too. Like when they sneakily made the containers of breyer’s ice cream smaller, but charged the same price. But what are you going to do? Stop eating ice cream, or refuse to read the book? Pfft. And they KNOW. *grumbles*

  30. LOL. The WTF fork is gold. Dang, Jessica, you hooked me in with just the fact that I really want to know what she looks like under the veil xD Sounds like you had a very interesting reading experience 😉 I was initially planning on skipping this but now I think I will read it!
    Alise recently posted…January 2015 Wrap Up

    • I hope you like it, Alise. It’s totally worth the read, and yeah, who doesn’t want to know what’s under that veil?

  31. I need to read this! I can’t wait to experience the insanity.
    Christy recently posted…Hero by Samantha Young

    • You do! You do need to read this. And if it’s insanity you’re after, you will not be disappointed.

  32. Hmm, what the fork? LOL. couldn’t help myself.
    I haven’t been able to get into this series at all but know many who’ve adored.

  33. I have this series and I’m hoping to bindge read it one day, but I’m a bit confused as to the fact on should this be read as the fourth book, or a prequel? She sounds like a crazy, mad-woman though.
    kim { Book Swoon } recently posted…Adult Book Review: Hungry Like the Wolf Paige Tyler

    • Fourth book, definitely. If you tried to read it first, it would probably confuse the mess out of you. But definitely you should read it after Cress. I can’t believe you haven’t read these, Kim. You would LOVE them.

  34. I’m ashamed to admit I have yet to read this series and it’s not that I haven’t wanted to but I need more time dang it! *hangs head* If I could only dedicate my life to reading, wouldn’t that be nice? 🙂 But yes, this should be coming up soon for me and then we can discuss! *wink*
    Cristina recently posted…Mini Reviews: You Are Here by Liz Fichera & Strange and Ever After (Something Strange #3) by Susan Dennard

    • You know . . . I was actually wondering whether or not you’d read the series while I was reading this one, b/c I couldn’t remember you ever mentioning it. And ZOMG this is up there with ToG and Grisha and DoSB!

  35. Great review! I’ve been debating on this series, glad to hear you enjoy it! I’ve got to check it out one of these days!
    Tricia recently posted…Mini Reviews: You Are Here by Liz Fichera & Strange and Ever After (Something Strange #3) by Susan Dennard

    • I hope you do, b/c AWESOME. Also, the first three books are all on sale for $2.99 right now 😉

  36. I’m currently listening to Cress right now so figured I’d peek in on this review.
    I legit LOL’d at: “most vile villain to ever plague (HA!)”
    Thanks for the chuckle.
    Not sure I’m going to want to sit through 200 pages of that wench’s story even though you give it 4 paws… maybe if I can get it as an audiobook on Overdrive and I can sit in my car on the commute shouting at Levana (People look at you far less strangely if you’re shouting alone in a car than they do if you’re shouting at a book) 😀
    Anyway, great review, thanks!

    • LOL! Puns are fun 😉 *whispers* I have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to them.

      And true that. This is another book that I’m glad to have been able to read in the judgement free zone of my own house.

  37. Oh I loved Pillars of the Earth…lol I couldn’t get enough of the buildings, period and characters. This is in my tbr pile but I haven’t been in a hurry to read it.
    kimbacaffeinate recently posted…Mini Pot Pies and The Lost Imperials series

    • LOL! Part of the problem is that I have auditory ADD—that’s why I rarely listen to audiobooks to begin with. So I didn’t even pick up on the interesting period details, and I got hung-up on things DID grab my attention like that teenager who enjoyed torture and compared the excitement it elicited to cornering a peasant girl in the stables. BOO. That’s actually when I read the first Kontis book, LOL. I tuned out what DH was listening to, and drowned myself in fairy tales 😉

  38. My Fairest is still in the mail. I’m beginning to worry she got lost. I’m so happy Lavana finally gets to tell her story. She’s been sort of an evil figure in the back for too long. Yeah, while I like the antihero books I wouldn’t want to be in a true psychopath’s head. lol @ plague pun. Thanks for no spoilers, nice review! 🙂
    Molly Mortensen recently posted…Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

    • Ummm . . . looking forward to your thoughts on this one, b/c I did feel like I was in a psychopath’s head . . . o.O

  39. OOOoh nice review! I can’t wait to read this one myself! I was slow to warm up to this series but after I read Scarlet I was pretty much in it! Yay! Looking forward to reading a book from the villain’s point of view! Might be a first for me, though if I tried harder I could possibly maybe think of a book that had the villain as the MC or at least with their own chapter pov’s! I know I’ve had those! Great review!
    Jessica recently posted…Follow Friday

    • I really liked Cinder too, but Scarlet is far and away my favorite. Regardless, I’m glad you did warm up to the series eventually. I hope you do like this one, and thanks!