I loved the first three books of the Lunar Chronicles, so it was a no-brainer when I decided to purchase this one. It didn’t take long to realize this book is nothing like the others, and seems more to be a cash grab than anything else. I’m blaming the publishers, because that seems like the most likely explanation of why this exists as a standalone book. I kind of wish I had just bought Winter, the real fourth book of the series, but it’s not available as a paperback yet.
This book is a prequel to the first three books, and is told from the point of view of the main antagonist of the series, Levana. Fairest is much, much shorter than the rest of the series, at 222 pages (and those pages had larger font and fewer lines than in the other three books) compared to around 400+ for the rest of the series.
I went in hoping for another well structured novel set in the Lunar Chronicles universe with well written characters and a moving plot. I know Levana is the bad guy, but a novel from her point of view should at least give me the motivation for why she is such a horrible, evil queen and wants nothing more than to kill Cinder. Unlike the characters in books 1, 2, and 3, Levana and her sister Channary are pretty much evil from the beginning, and I guess I have strong hatred for flat, one-dimensional characters because this is what annoyed me the most about this book. There is never any explanation for why Channary is such a wretched person, but towards the end of the book you find out something happens to Levana at the age of six to make her the way she is. I kind of wish the author had Levana start out as a good, kind person and slowly turn evil as the book progresses so we can see some character progression and evolution into the evil person we know her to be. I just needed something so we could have a little sympathy for Levana. In comparison, the Hound in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire goes through something very, very similar to Levana’s childhood trauma, and ends up being a troubled but ultimately very sympathetic, well developed character, and I feel like I know him so much better than I know Levana, even though he is just minor part of ASOIAF while this whole book is about Levana. Just being “greedy for power” isn’t cutting it for me for motivation to kill a three year old. The rest of the book just seemed to be an excuse to name drop characters from the first three books which caused some major eye rolling from this reader. Overall, I was just disappointed by this book.