Hardcover, 256 pages
Expected publication: January 27th 2015 by Feiwel & Friends
Source: Raincoast Books
Fans of Marissa Meyer’s The Lunar Chronicles will be well acquainted with Levana, the Lunar Queen, the cradle snatcher who is forcing Prince (King?) Kai to marry her to cement the alliance between Lunar and Earth. Fairest is a prequel of sorts that chronicles the events prior to what happens in Cinder, the first book in the series. The novella is set entirely on the moon, or Lunar as it is called and readers follow Levana as she grows from a wicked teenager to an evil adult.
I was afraid that Fairest would make me like Levana because I have been waiting for three books now to see her being taken down super-villain style. I wouldn’t have been able to take it had she become a sympathetic villain due to an intimate look at the circumstances that make her into the person she is in the books following Fairest. I needn’t have worried. If Fairest does anything, it rends in perfect and close detail the reasons Levana is such a despicable person.
Of course she has a sob story and of course there are reasons she becomes the way she is: her family is deplorable, displaying all the negative traits common to despot rulers. Cinder’s mom, Levana’s sister, is a horrid and probably would have been an even more horrible mother had she gotten a chance to be a mom. A fire in her childhood leaves Levana scarred and hideous (in her words) so she turns to Glamour to make up for her physical deficiencies. She wears Glamour constantly and does not let anyone, ever, catch a glimpse of her true face. Because Glamour is not visible in mirrors, she avoids them religiously.
Her obsession with a royal guard (Winter’s dad) and the lengths to which she goes to pursue him is sobering. Her absolute lack of empathy for someone’s bereavement is horrifying and gave me pause. The novel does not ever seek to justify or excuse Levana’s actions which was good because I don’t think Levana is redeemable. My disgust grew as I read the novella and by the end, when I thought there was nothing else she could do to surprise, she does so and I was repulsed anew.
Meyer gets to delve deeper into the lifestyles and politics of the Lunar people and in this novella, we see the intense attention the population focuses on physical perfection. Levana takes for granted all the privileges her wealth and social status give her and refuses to listen to any adviser who tries to tell her that she may be pushing people too far. She uses her Lunra gifts and manipulates people without regarding the consequence of her actions. I won’t deny that she has her sorrows but they in no part and in no way excuse her actions.
Levana is consumed by an image of herself she has created in her mind, as the fairest queen Lunar has ever known, and she seeks to become this image even as she knows it is a futile attempt. I look forward to the conclusion of the series purely to see her fall. I hope it’s done in an epic style.
The novella will be enjoyed by readers who like the series and for those who have not yet begun the series, this novella may be a good starting point. Happy reading!