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.
©2015 Marissa Meyer (P)2014 Macmillan Audio
I listened to this book out of order, I listened to Cinder and then Fairest. This is the story of how Levana came to be the vicious ruler that we hear about Cinder, Scarlet and Cress.
Queen Levana didn't have very loving parents, and she had a truly pathological sister. We learn the sad tale of how Levana came to have the scars she had, and about her ruthless rise to the thrown, and what she was willing to do in order to never lose it.
A lot of reviews talk about the sexual aspect of this book; I feel that it's worth mentioning that, just like in Harry Potter, you grow with the book. As you move further into the series, the age of the reader is presumed to have grown as well. I don't think the book was overly sexual; but if the reader hasn't learned anything about sex, then you won't want them to learn about a 16 year old girl losing her virginity.
Remarkably, the sex wasn't the part of the book that I found upsetting. I was more upset/disturbed by the story of Levana's accident, and the things that she did to secure her role as queen.
**Possible spoiler; but related to sexual aspects of the book**
The only sexual events in this book include: the older sister sleeping with many men, in no detail other than you know that the relationship is sexual. Levana (at age 16) using her glamour to get a man to take her virginity, and then a brief sentence where she mentions the blood on the post coital sheets. Otherwise, Levana talks about wanting a baby, and sharing a bed with her prince, in little to no detail.
*I hope this information helps listeners decide if this appropriate to share with younger listeners/readers.
This should really be called The Lunar Chronicles 0.5, not 3.5, because it is a prequel that takes us up to the start of events in Cinder. It's an interesting backstory on Queen Levana. As a fan of the series, I'm glad to have listened to it, although you can easily give it a miss and not lose any momentum of the main story arc.
However, my primary criterion for an audiobook's success is 'Will I listen to it again?', and by this measure, Fairest fails completely. I never intend to listen to this book again. It has no humor, no light moments at all. It is unrelievedly dark and sad, as Levana first experiences horrible physical and mental abuse as a child, always feels unloved, and grows up quietly turning into a sociopath. How many times would you want to listen to a child being forced into a fire, or a absolute monarch deciding to cut off a servant's feet so she'll have nothing better to do than sew the queen's clothes? See what I mean? It's ALL like that.
Rebecca Soler's narration is fine, but it's not going to redeem a story like this for me.
Also, buyer beware that this book really only clocks in at around 6 hours, which I generally feel is not worth an entire credit. A full 30 minutes is given to the beginning chapters of Winter, which is supposed to complete the series and is not due out until the fall. I got more enjoyment out of those few chapters than I did from the entire story of Fairest.
I love this series, but Fairest is a waste. An entire story devoted to a sociopath. We already knew Levana was awful. Now we get to see how she got there. The story is unusually short for listening purposes and has not one happy or amusing moment. It does nothing to advance the saga. Wait for Winter.
Sci-fi/fantasy junkie, storyteller, devourer of books, workaholic
I've become a huge fan of the Lunar Chronicles. I didn't know what to expect from this story, which is for Queen Levana what the Star Wars prequels were for Darth Vader in that it shows how she turned from a sympathetic and well-meaning teen into a fearsome villain. And thankfully, Marissa Meyer handled the gradual twisting of her villain much more dexterously than George Lucas did. Watching Levana's gradual transformation into the terrifying force of evil she is in the first three Lunar Chronicle books is like watching a burning building. It's kind of horrible, yet perversely entertaining, and you just can't look away.
I'd recommend reading this story only after reading the first three Lunar Chronicles books, as there are many references to (and perhaps mild spoilers for) Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress. Reading Fairest after those three added a lot of color to the world Meyer has built. Whereas the first three take place mostly on Earth and offer only glimpses of Luna, Fairest shows us what's happening on the other side of the war.
Anyway, loved this book, love this series, and can't wait for the next installment!
This is a matter of preference. No matter how good the story, the writing, the narration, I don't like to spend time with unpleasant characters. This is a story about an unpleasant character. Spoiler alert: What I term as a 'dating at the funeral' situation was unpleasant, showing a true sociopath with no empathy resulting in bizarre behavior. I was really looking forward to this book, but was unable to enjoy it. Nothing wrong with the story at all, just too dark. I am looking forward to the next book, but I will try to forget this one. Up to this point I had really enjoyed the series.
What is it like to be in the mind of a psychopath? It seems we find out in this novel. It was kind of disturbing overall and not really relevant to the series. Well written and well performed but I hated it nonetheless.
Say something about yourself!
Listened for Fun (Audible)
Overall Rating: 4.00
Story Rating: 4.00
Character Rating: 4.00
Audio Rating: 4.50
First Thought when Finished: Fairest by Marissa Meyer is a story I felt needed to be told!
Overall Thoughts Did I feel bad for L after this story? Nope! Granted her back story did have me pitying her just a bit. Everything she does is for one reason only: it is what she wants! She is very self-tunneled visioned (I know not a thing but it is the best way I can describe it)
Did I like getting her history? Sure! She is an evil queen and Marissa did a great job of showing that there are layers to even the most evil of characters. Granted they may just be more layers of evil but they are layers!
Did I like the sneak peak at Winter? You BETCHA! Can't wait! Though I am going to have to do a total re-listen before the final book! That will happen closer to release time.
Narrated by: Rebecca Soler /Length: 6 hrs and 36 mins
The series is narrated by Rebecca Soler and she does a wonderful job. The only one I did not listen to in audiobook was Cress. I missed Rebecca's narration while reading. She adds layers and emotions to the wonderful words that Marissa Meyer has written. If you have not given these a whirl on audio, you should!
Now We Wait
The reader's performance was good, as usual, but the story was depressing. I guess that's to be expected, given what we already knew about Levana, but in my anticipation of another Lunar Chronicles book I set my hopes too high. I wish Marissa Meyer had just skipped this book and released Winter instead. This offers nothing to the story except to see how Levana went from a selfish brat to a crazy queen. There's not a happy moment in the book.
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