Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable story about love and war, deceit and death in the fourth installment in the Lunar Chronicles. Fans of the series know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her "glamour" to deceive others and to gain power, but her side of the story has yet to be explored . . . until now. Filled with exclusive content and beautifully packaged with a unique and stunning cover, Fairest is a must-have book for any Lunar Chronicles fan.
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By Marissa Meyer
MacmillanCopyright © 2015 Rampion Books
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She was lying on a burning pyre, hot coals beneath her back. White sparks floated in her vision but the mercy of unconsciousness wouldn't come. Her throat was hoarse from screaming. The smell of her own burning flesh invaded her nostrils. Smoke stung her eyes. Blisters burbled across her skin, and entire swaths of flesh peeled away, revealing raw tissue underneath.
The pain was relentless, the agony never ending. She pleaded for death, but it never came.
She reached out with her good hand, trying to drag her body from the fire, but the bed of coals crushed and collapsed under her weight, burying her, dragging her deeper into the embers and the smoke.
Through the haze she caught a glimpse of kind eyes. A warm smile. A finger curled toward her. Come here, baby sister ...
Levana gasped and jolted upward, limbs tangled in heavy blankets. Her sheets were damp and cold from her sweat, but her skin was still burning hot from the dream. Her throat felt scratched raw. She struggled to swallow, but her saliva tasted like smoke and made her cringe. She sat in the faint morning light shuddering, trying to will away the nightmare. The same nightmare that had plagued her for too many years, that she could never seem to escape.
She rubbed her hands repeatedly over her arms and sides until she was certain the fire wasn't real. She was not burning alive. She was safe and alone in her chambers.
With a trembling breath, she scooted to the other side of the mattress, away from the sweat-stained sheets, and lay back down. Afraid to close her eyes, she stared up at the canopy and practiced her slow breathing until her heartbeat steadied.
She tried to distract herself by planning who she would be that day.
A thousand possibilities floated before her. She would be beautiful, but there were many types of beauty. Skin tone, hair texture, the shape of one's eyes, the length of a neck, a well-placed freckle, a certain grace in the way one walked.
Levana knew a great deal about beauty, just as she knew a great deal about ugliness.
Then she remembered that today was the funeral.
She groaned at the thought. How exhausting it would be to hold a glamour all day long, in front of so many. She didn't want to go, but she would have no choice.
It was an inconvenient day for her focus to be shaken by nightmares. Perhaps it would be best to choose something familiar.
As the dream receded into her subconscious, Levana toyed with the idea of being her mother that day. Not as Queen Jannali had been when she died, but perhaps as a fifteen-year-old version of her. It would be a sort of homage to attend the funeral wearing her mother's cheekbones and the vivid violet eyes that everyone knew were glamour-made, though no one would have dared say so aloud.
She spent a few minutes imagining what her mother might have looked like at her age, and she let the glamour settle over her. Moon-blonde hair sleekly pulled into a low knot. Skin as pale as a sheet of ice. A little shorter than she would become full grown. Pale pink lips, so as not to detract from the vibrancy of those eyes.
It calmed her, sinking into the glamour. But no sooner had she tested the look than she felt the wrongness of it.
She did not want to go to her parents' funeral in the garb of a girl-now-dead.
A tap fluttered at the door, interrupting her thoughts.
Levana sighed, and quickly fell into another costume that she'd dreamed up days before. Olive skin, a graceful slope to her nose, and raven-black hair cut adorably short. She shifted through a few eye colors before landing on a striking gray-blue, topped off with smoldering black lashes.
Before she could second-guess herself, she embedded a silver jewel into the flesh beneath her right eye.
A teardrop. To prove that she was in mourning.
"Come in," she called, opening her eyes.
A servant entered carrying a breakfast tray. The girl curtsied in the doorway, not lifting her gaze from the floor—which rendered Levana's glamour unnecessary—before approaching the bed.
"Good morning, Your Highness."
Sitting up, Levana allowed the servant to set the tray across her lap and tuck a cloth napkin around her. The servant poured jasmine tea into a hand-painted porcelain cup that had been imported from Earth several generations ago, and garnished it with two small mint leaves and a drizzle of honey. Levana said nothing as the servant uncovered a tray of tiny cream-filled pastries, so that Levana could see what they looked like whole, before using a silver knife to saw them into even tinier bite-size pieces. While the servant worked, Levana eyed the dish of bright-colored fruits: a soft-fuzzed peach set into a halo of black and red berries, all dusted with powdered sugar.
"Is there anything else I can bring for you, Your Highness?"
"No, that will be all. But send the other one up in twenty minutes to prepare my mourning dress."
"Of course, Your Highness," she answered, although they both knew there was no other one. Every servant in the palace was the other one. It didn't matter to Levana who the girl sent up, so long as whoever it was could properly stitch her into the sleek gray gown the seamstress had delivered the day before. Levana didn't want to bother with glamouring her dress today in addition to her face, not with so many other thoughts in her head.
With another curtsy, the servant ducked out of the room, leaving Levana to stare down at her breakfast tray. Only now did she realize how very un-hungry she was. There was an ache in her stomach, perhaps left over from the horrible dream. Or she supposed it could have been sadness, but that was doubtful.
She felt no great loss at the death of her parents, who had been gone now for half the long day. Eight artificial nights. Their deaths were terribly gory. They were assassinated by a shell who used his invincibility against the Lunar gift to sneak into the palace. The man had shot two royal guards in the head before making his way to her parents' bedroom on the third floor, killing three more guards, and slitting her mother's throat so deeply the knife severed part of her spine. He had then gone down the hallway to where her father was lying with one of his mistresses and stabbed him sixteen times in the chest.
The mistress was still screaming, blood spurts across her face, when two royal guards found them.
The shell murderer was still stabbing.
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 for a very pretty rouge on her lips.
She knew it was not the proper thing to think, but she also did not think her parents would have thought anything better had it been her murdered instead of them.
Levana had managed to eat three-quarters of a pastry and five small berries when her bedroom door opened again. She was immediately angry at the intrusion—the servant was early. Only on the heels of her annoyance did she check that her glamour was still in place. This, she knew, was the wrong order of concern.
But it was her sister, not one of the faceless servants, who swept into her bedroom. "Channary!" Levana barked, pushing the tray away from her. The tea slopped over the sides of the cup, pooling in the saucer beneath. "I have not given you permission to enter."
"Then perhaps you should lock your door," said Channary, sliding like an eel across the carpet. "There are murderers about, you know."
She said it with a smile, wholly unconcerned. And why shouldn't she be? The murderer had been promptly executed when the guards found him, bloodied knife still in hand.
Not that Levana didn't think there could be more shells out there, angry enough and crazy enough to attempt another attack. Channary was a fool if she thought otherwise.
Which was part of the problem. Channary was simply a fool.
She was a beautiful fool, though, which was the worst kind. Her sister had lovely tanned skin and dark chestnut hair and eyes that tilted up just right at the corners so that she looked like she was smiling even when she wasn't. Levana was convinced that her sister's beauty was glamour-made, certain that no one as horrible on the inside could be so lovely on the outside, but Channary would never confess one way or the other. If there was a chink in her illusion of beauty, Levana had yet to find it. The stupid girl wasn't even bothered by mirrors.
Channary was already dressed for the funeral, though the dull gray color of the fabric was the only indication that it was made for mourning. The netted skirt jutted out nearly perpendicular to her thighs, like a dancer's costume, and the body-hugging top was inset with thousands of silver sparkles. Her arms were painted with wide gray stripes spiraling up each limb, then coming together to form a heart on her chest. Inside the heart, someone had scrawled, You will be missed.
Altogether, the look made Levana want to gag.
"What do you want?" asked Levana, swinging her legs out from beneath the blankets.
"To see that you won't be embarrassing me by your appearance today." Reaching forward, Channary tugged at the flesh beneath Levana's eye, an experiment to see if the embedded gemstone would hold. Flinching, Levana knocked her hand away.
Channary smirked. "Thoughtful touch."
"Less fraudulent than claiming you're going to miss them," said Levana, glaring at the painted heart.
"Fraudulent? To the contrary. I shall miss them a great deal. Especially the parties that Father used to throw during the full Earth. And being able to borrow Mother's dresses when I was going shopping in AR-4." She hesitated. "Though I suppose now I can simply take her seamstress as my own, so perhaps that is no great loss after all." With a giggle, she sat down on the edge of the bed and snatched a berry from the breakfast tray, popping it onto her tongue. "You should be prepared to say a few words at the funeral today."
"Me?" It was an appalling idea. Everyone would be watching her, judging just how sad she was. She didn't think she could fake it well enough.
"You're their daughter too. And—" Suddenly, inexplicably choked up, Channary dabbed at the corner of her eye. "I don't think I'm strong enough to do it all on my own. I'll be overwhelmed by grief. Perhaps I will faint and require a guard to carry me to someplace dark and quiet to recover." She snorted, all signs of sadness vanishing as quickly as they had come. "That's an intriguing idea. Perhaps I can stage it to happen next to that new young one with the curly hair. He seems quite ... obliging."
Levana scowled. "You're going to leave me alone to guide the entire kingdom in mourning, so that you can frolic with one of the guards?"
"Oh, stop it," said Channary, covering her ears. "You're so annoying when you whine."
"You're going to be queen, Channary. You're going to have to make speeches and important decisions that will affect everyone on Luna. Don't you think it's time you took that seriously?"
Laughing, Channary sucked at the grains of sugar left on her fingertips. "Like our parents took it so seriously?"
"Our parents are dead. Killed by a citizen who must not have thought they were doing a very good job."
Channary waved her hand through the air. "Being queen is a right, little sister. A right that comes with an endless supply of men and servants and beautiful dresses. Let the court and the thaumaturges deal with all the boring details. As for me, I am going to be known throughout history as the queen who never stopped laughing." Tossing her hair off her shoulder, she surveyed the bedroom, its gold-papered walls and hand-embroidered draperies. "Why aren't there any mirrors in here? I want to see how beautiful I look for my tear-filled performance."
Crawling from the bed, Levana pulled on a robe that had been laid out on the sitting chair. "You know very well why there aren't any mirrors."
To which Channary's grin widened. She hopped up from the bed as well. "Oh, yes, that's right. Your glamours are so becoming these days I'd almost forgotten."
Then, quick as a viper, Channary backhanded Levana across the face, sending her stumbling into one of the bedposts. Levana cried out, the shock causing her to lose control of her glamour.
"Ah, there's my ugly duckling," Channary cooed. Stepping closer, she grabbed Levana's chin, squeezing tight before Levana could raise her hand to soothe her already-flaming cheek. "I suggest you remember this the next time you think to contradict one of my orders. As you have so kindly reminded me, I am going to be queen, and I will not tolerate my commands being questioned, especially by my pathetic little sister. You will be speaking for me at the funeral."
Turning away, Levana blinked back the tears that had sprung up and scrambled to reinstate her illusion. To hide her disfigurements. To pretend that she was beautiful too.
Spotting movement in the corner of her eye, she saw a maid frozen in the doorway. Channary hadn't closed it upon entering, and Levana was quite certain the maid had seen everything.
Smartly, the servant lowered her gaze and curtsied.
Releasing Levana's chin, Channary stepped back. "Put on your mourning dress, little sister," she said, once again wearing her pretty smile. "We have a very big day ahead of us."
* * *
The great hall was filled with grays. Gray hair, gray makeup, gray gloves, gray gowns, gray stockings. Charcoal jackets and heather sleeves, snowdrop shoes and stormy top hats. Despite the drab color palette, though, the funeral guests looked anything but mournful. For in those grays were gowns made of floating ribbons and sculpted jewelry and frosted flowers that grew like tiny gardens from bountiful poufed hair.
Levana could imagine that the Artemisian seamstresses had been kept very, very busy since the assassination.
Her own dress was adequate. A floor-length gown made of gray-on-gray damask velvet and a high lace neckline that, she guessed, looked lovely with the cropped black hair of her glamour. It was nothing as showy as Channary's tutu, but at least she maintained a bit of dignity.
On a dais at the front of the room, a holograph was showing the deceased king and queen as they had once looked in their summery youth. Her mother in her wedding gown—barely older then than Levana was now. Her father seated upon his throne, broad shouldered and square jawed. They were artist-rendered portraits, of course—recordings of the royal family were strictly prohibited—but the artist had captured their glamours almost perfectly. Her father's steely gaze, the graceful way her mother fluttered her fingers when she waved.
Levana stood beside Channary on the dais, accepting kisses on her hands and the condolences of Artemisia's families as they filtered past. Levana's stomach was in knots, knowing that Channary planned on shirking her duties as eldest and forcing her to give the speech. Though she had been practicing for years, Levana still had the irrational fear every time she addressed an audience that she would lose control of her glamour and they would see her as she truly was.
The rumors were bad enough. Whispers that the young princess was not at all beautiful, had in fact been grotesquely disfigured by some tragic accident in her childhood. That it was a mercy no one would ever have to look on her. That they were all lucky she was as skilled at her glamour as she was, so they wouldn't have to tolerate such ugliness in their precious court.
She bowed her head, thanking a woman for her lie about how very honorable her parents had been, when her attention caught on a man still a few persons back in the line.
Her heart tripped over itself. Her movements became automatic—nod, hold out your hand, mumble thank you—while all the world receded into a blur of grays.
Sir Evret Hayle had become a royal guard in her father's personal entourage when Levana was just eight years old, and she had loved him ever since, despite knowing that he was nearly ten years her senior. His skin was ebony dark, his eyes full of intelligence and cunning when he was on duty, and mirth when he was relaxed. She had once caught flecks of gray and emerald in his irises, and ever since was mesmerized by his eyes, hoping to be close enough one day to witness those flecks again. His hair was a mess of tightly coiled locks, long enough to seem unruly, short enough to be refined. Levana didn't think she'd ever seen him outside of his guard uniform, which very precisely indicated every muscle in his arms and shoulders—until today. He was wearing simple gray pants and a tunic-style shirt that was almost too relaxed for a royal funeral.
He wore them like a prince.
For seven years she had known him to be the most handsome man in the entire Lunar court. In the city of Artemisia. On all of Luna. She had known it even before she was old enough to understand why her heart pounded so strongly when he was near.
And now he was coming closer. Only four people dividing them. Three. Two.
Hand beginning to tremble, Levana stood a little straighter and adjusted her glamour so that her eyes were a little brighter and the jewel in her skin glittered like an actual tear. She made herself a bit taller too—closer to Evret's height, though still small enough to seem vulnerable and in need of protection.
It had been many months since she had reason to stand so near to him, and here he was, coming to her, with sympathy in his eyes. There were those flecks of gray and emerald, not a figment of her imagination after all. He was not playing the role of guard, for once, but of a mourning Lunar citizen. He was taking her hand and raising it to his mouth, though the kiss landed in the air above her knuckles. Her pulse was an ocean in her ears.
"Your Highness," he said, and hearing his voice was almost as rare a treasure as seeing the flecks in his eyes. "I am so sorry for your loss. The sorrow belongs to us all, but I know you bear the weight more than anyone."
She tried to store his words away in the back of her mind, for retrieval and analysis at a moment when he was not holding her hand or peering into her soul. I know you bear the weight more than anyone.
Although he appeared honest, Levana didn't think he was overly fond of the king and queen. Perhaps his grief was because he'd not been on duty when the murders happened, so he couldn't have done anything to stop them. Levana sensed that he was exceptionally proud of his place on the royal guard.
For her part, though, she was grateful that Evret hadn't been there. That some other guards had been killed instead.
"Thank you," she breathed. "Your kindness makes this day easier to bear, Sir Hayle."
Excerpted from Fairest by Marissa Meyer. Copyright © 2015 Rampion Books. Excerpted by permission of Macmillan.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
So sad! Can't wait till winter comes out though, i'm a big fan of this series and i don't want it to end,but unfortunetly all storys come to a end and this one better be epic! As for this book it was ok she gave us lavana's backstory which was pretty dark, and depressing,and sad lavana is a pretty messed up person if you ask me i just wanted to strangle her through the whole book
*Please note: there will be very small, minor spoilers for the previous books in The Lunar Chronicles. I will not include any details - but suffice to say, I will mention who the main antagonist for the series is. This review is nearly spoiler-free for the series. The Lunar Chronicles has been a delightful series so far, and news that a prequel was coming had me eagerly awaiting its arrival. In particular, the fact that Fairest focuses its attention on Queen Levana, the main antagonist in the first three books of The Lunar Chronicles and I'm assuming the last one as well. Fairest is exactly what a prequel should be, as it narrates some of Levana's personal history and she came to be the Queen of Luna as we readers now know her. As an aside, I would recommend reading this prequel after having read Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress - I also think it fits in well before Winter, but then again I haven't yet read Winter! Basically, I would suggest reading the books in the order in which they were released. I enjoyed Fairest because I was already familiar with many of the central characters in The Lunar Chronicles series, and if you haven't read the previous books I think you'll miss many of the little clues or truly appreciate some of the details. Reasons to Read: 1. Evilness: nature versus nurture? At this point in the series, many of us have been horrified by the rumours surrounding Queen Levana and the actions she has taken. And I was deeply interested to read Fairest so I could learn more about Levana's mind and her personal life. I like that Marissa Meyer didn't just leave Levana as a villain - she gave her a back story and made her feel more like a real character than a ghost. But we aren't given any easy answers in Fairest - it wasn't clear to me at all whether Levana's character worsened over time because of events in her life, or if that was just the way she had always been. It's an interesting question though, and I appreciate that Marissa did make it as clear cut. 2. A character-driven story, but also some world building: Up until this point, we haven't had much information in the series about Luna in general. None of our characters have spent much time there, so this is our first through glimpse into the world of Luna. Even better, we have a historical perspective on it - the events in Fairest take place in the past from the point of the other books in the series. So yes, we have the gift of hindsight but it also makes it much easier to understand why the events in the previous books have taken place. While the story is really about Levana, it can't help but explore some of Luna as well. 3. The best villains in a story are still characters: I'm never enchanted with books that make a character a villain simply because the plot demanded it. I suppose I view life as shades of gray that I can't make that black and white distinction - a villain is still a person, or they should be at least. There needs to be that depth of the character, and it's a true sign of a writer's strength if they can flesh out the dimensions of their antagonist. Fairest is as heartbreaking story, and one that needs to be read. When we see people do horrible things, it's natural for us to wonder "why?" This book is the answer to that question in The Lunar Chronicles. Review copy received from Raincoast Books for review; no other compensation was received.
If you loved the other books in the series this is a definite must have, now if you are not familiar with the rest of the series I would actually say to pick the other ones up first before this one. If you love fairy tale retellings this is unlike any you've read before, it is amazing, pick then up now!
This litteraly left me sobbing, i highly recommend this book.
I loved learning Levinia's orgin story. It explains so much about her motivations and i securities. Wonderful addition to the story lore!
Absolutely loved this! Levana's story made me sad and I actually felt bad for her at one point; but after some of the stuff she did (I am trying not to put spoilers!) I started to hate her again. All in all, awesome back-story and I can't wait to read Winter!
Way too short! What a rip off!
To answer previous revier's question.....No, this is not normalPrevious novelas in this series were $0,99 and early relesse chapters were free I truely love Marrisa Meyer's depth of characterd and appreciate the bavkstory....however, $5 for a 110 page novella and $5 for 4 chapters of WINTER that will not be released until 'Fall"2015 is very disappointing. They also touted colorful illustration..........that is simply the cover. I will continue to be a fan, but will never pre-order again. J. Burrow
MaryAnn's Review: You know when you read a book or a series, and there’s a character in there that is just so terrible that you wonder what her deal is? What happened in her past that made them become this terrible person? Fairest by Marissa Meyer, which tells the story of Queen Levana before the start of the Lunar Chronicles is just that. It answered the questions that I had brewing in my mind about her and why is the way she is! And I absolutely loved this book! Fairest gives the readers the details that are not at all touched on in the Lunar series. Author, Marissa Meyer, shows the reader the tough life that Levana had starting from a very early age and slowly progresses the story to lead up to the going ons in the series. Levana has a reason that she uses her glamour so much. She is a completely scared up girl who has had to live with the way she looks for as long as she can remember. Why does she not like mirrors, as mentioned in the Lunar series? Because she hated what she saw. You can’t help but feel for her in this book! You find out early on that she really just wants to be a regular girl, and to the have the man that she loves love her back. But of course, there are obstacles. For one, the love of her life (Evret) is married…and expecting his first child. And as the story progresses her love Evret turns into an obsession. And from everything starts to spiral and starts to form her into the Levana we love to hate. The writing is true Marissa Meyer style. Addictive and fantastic, and quickly drawing you into this world she has created. The characters, as always, are unforgettable and all written with their own unique personalities. I know that I’m supposed to hate Levana, due to the Lunar novels, but in Fairest, I felt sorry for this lonely girl. And I loved that ever so slowly, Levana’s true colours start to come through, and slowly my hate for her surfaced, and this was all done to perfection. Of course, once the end comes near, the full evilness of Levana comes to light, but not without a last touch of “pull the heartstrings”. The heinous thoughts and actions of Levana totally had me glued to the pages. Just how far she would go to get what she wanted… Such an amazing character to read more about. I loved how little pieces of the puzzle (storylines in the series) started clicking together, and how we actually get to “meet” the characters who were just merely mentioned in the other books, or witness how people got the position they are in, in the other books. I did, however, feel that some of the parts were rushed and could have used a little more description, and some things just ended rather quickly. Fans of The Lunar Chronicles will absolutely adore the story of Queen Levana in Fairest by Marissa Meyer. You will become completely absorbed in everything, even in the littlest details like the colour of a beverage. And also, O.M.G. to this cover! Every time I look at it, I keep expecting the image of Levana to move or shift. It’s so eerily lifelike that this alone will pull people to the book, and hopefully, draw them in to get the other books. And the artwork inside is simply amazing. And bonus! The first 3 chapters of the next book can be found at the end! I cannot wait for the final book to come out in the Fall of 2015. The story of Winter? Bring it on! Gabby's Review - I’m starting to feel like I’m one of the few people who hasn’t picked up author Marissa Meyer’s The Lunar Chronicles. I’ve heard nothing but good things and have to admit that I’ve been meaning to get around to reading the first novel in the series—Cinder—but never got around to it. But when I was told that I absolutely had to read Fairest because it was insane and incredible and spoiler free for the rest of the series I figured ‘Eh, why not?’ I have to admit that after reading Fairest (and all in one sitting I might add) I am currently dying to read the rest of Meyer’s books. Definitely need to find time for that. Fairest introduces readers to Levana, a fifteen-year-old princess whose parents have recently been murdered. Through an unfazed mourning period Levana encounters the handsome Evret Hayle and his pregnant wife Solstice Hayle. Beautiful, pregnant, insignificant Solstice Hayle. While watching her unworthy sister ascend to the throne, Levana finds herself growing slowly more and more enraptured by Evret Hayle. As a Royal Guard, Levana sees him everywhere. His kind heart and his kind gestures toward her can only prove what she already knows: Evret is falling in love with her. It’s the only logical explanation. After Solstice Hayle gives birth to her daughter, Winter, Levana is prepared to claim Evret as her own. If there’s one thing Levana will not face it’s the ugly truth laid out in front of her or the appearance beneath her glamour. As a person who has not read the rest of the novels in Meyer’s series, I was surprised by just how addictive Fairest was. Every chapter felt like it was better than the last. My heart broke. I laughed. I cried. I stared in horror at the story being laid out in front of me. Everything about it just worked. Honestly, it was brilliant. All I could do was read and feel like I was inside the story watching Levana’s transition from bad to worse to wicked. The worst part was that I could empathize with her and I could feel sorry for her while also despising her at the same time. Meyer’s writing has me hooked and I’m sure that I won’t be able to get enough of it. This was just such a beautiful origin story. For readers who haven’t read the novels like myself, I definitely do feel like this is a good novel to give you a feel for Meyer’s world. Is this a series you want to invest yourself in? Does the genre work for you? Can you and the series click? I definitely feel like this is a good way to gauge the series but also a great way to prepare yourself for what is to come. We’re getting a first look at the series antagonist. Do I feel like if I start reading the rest of the books I’m totally going to be cheering on the villain from afar? Probably. But do I think that will lessen my reading experience? Probably not. The best part of Fairest for me anyways was seeing what a sociopath Levana really is. From what I’ve learned in school about psychology, she totally exhibited major tendencies. It’s pretty awesome to see how accurately portrayed her disorder is. Levana’s already on my list of badass female characters. Her cunning and ruthlessness are absolutely unforgettable. I would recommend Fairest to any readers who are considering reading the Lunar Chronicles. To any readers who are already keeping up with the series I’m just going to assume this is already on your TBR list (because seriously if it isn’t what is up?). Any readers who want a beautifully written story that they can easily finish in one or two sittings should also give Fairest a read. Let’s give the Evil Queen some much deserved love.
Book: Fairest: Levana's Story (The Lunar Chronicles) Author: Marissa Meyer Grade: 4.65 out of 5 stars **This review may contain spoilers, as I have not read any of the other books to know what is and isn't going to give something away.** Fairest: Levana's Story is the first novel I have read of the Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer. It is an engaging look into Levana's backstory and how she became the villainous queen of the series. At the beginning of the novel, Levana and her sister, Channary, must attend the funeral of their parents, who have been brutally assassinated. Channary, the eldest and soon-to-be new queen of Lunar, is strangely competitive with her sister and takes every opportunity to point out Levana's flaws and inadequacies. Levana, who must use glamour to hide gruesome burn scars on her face she suffered as a child, is both insecure and a hopeless romantic, desperate for the love and acceptance she's never had. Right away, Levana sets her sights on Evret Hayle, a palace guard, who has shown her nothing but kindness since she was a little girl. Then, she discovers Evret is married and the happy couple are expecting a baby. Levana believes she and Evret are meant to be together, which is only reaffirmed for her when Evret's wife does not survive the birth of their child, Winter. Levana uses her glamour to look like Evret's late wife, and manipulates Evret into marrying her. At first, Levana is happy with their arrangement, but then she grows increasingly annoyed by Evret's lack of affection toward her. Levana is also frustrated with how much of a doting father he is to Winter, especially since Levana does not seem able to give Evret a child of her own. She believes she has sacrificed much for Evret, and that the least he could do is love her in return. She does not see her manipulations of him as wrong, or how cruel she is to use his dead wife's face to make him stay by her side. Before Levana's frustration with Evret can turn to rage, her sister becomes ill and dies. Levana is then crowned ruler of Lunar until Channary's daughter, Princess Selene, comes of age to take the throne. Levana thrives as Lunar's monarch, and quickly sees Princess Selene as a threat to her personal happiness and the kingdom's success. She implements a devious plan to get rid of her niece, confident that she is only doing what is best for the kingdom. Marissa Meyer does an exquisite job in telling Levana's side of the story, where everything nefarious Levana does is not only justified but absolutely necessary for the success of her kingdom. Levana's reason and rationale are so skewed that she cannot see how cruel and inhuman she is as she wields her magic and power at those closest to her. Ms. Meyer also explores the age-old question of nature versus nurture with Levana, and it appears both nature and nurture contribute to Levana's failings as a compassionate person. Levana suffers greatly at the hands of those who should care for her, but it is her own choice to let her painful history twist her into something dark and sinister. She sees everyone as a threat, from her beloved Evret to his innocent child to her own niece, and Levana does not hesitate to use her power to get rid of them and everyone in her way. Overall, Fairest: Levana's Story is an intriguing read into a complicated character's past and machinations. I did find Levana's Machiavellian nature disturbing and a little over-the-top at times, but then again the novel is from her point-of-view. As this is my first contact with The Lunar Chronicles, I am definitely interested in the rest of the story and how Levana's history shapes her future. Regardless of how many books you've read of Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles, I definitely recommend Fairest: Levana's Story.
Better than I expected for a Y.A book
***If you have not read the series please be aware of possible spoilers. These books are NOT stand alones and must be read in order.*** I LOVE THIS SERIES!!! While this book technically goes between Cress and Winter I only just read it (3 months after reading Winter which didn't hinder my enjoyment of Winter in the least. However, I DO recommend reading Fairest in the proper order. ). And let me tell you....The moon has been visible every day this week and I keep looking at it and thinking, "Hmmm, I wonder if Levana can see me...." I do NOT like Levana...AT ALL...And this book did not change that. I do not have compassion for her. I do not see ANY good in her. BUT, this book was REALLY REALLY well written, and it gives us SO MUCH INSIGHT into Levana's past. Although I DO feel bad for the whole reason she wears a veil. Knowing that if that event hadn't taken place that maybe she would have turned out nicer, but it is doubtful. She is a cunning queen. She knows what she is doing, and sees the long term goals. Too bad she didn't have at least a smidgen of good in her. Although she does raise her step-daughter...But let's not get into my feelings on that...Levana is the epitome of evil. Yet the world that Marissa Meyer has created is spectacular. I borrowed the audiobook copy of Fairest from my local library. I was not required to write a review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.
I love how this gives you a glimpse of what she went through.
"Love is a conquest. Love is a war." Feels: I went into this absolutely positive I would never feel anything remotely akin to sympathy for Levana. She's such an unholy terror in the other books! And seemingly without reason. I felt like she just liked being evil and inflicting pain on others (which I guess is partially true but there's so much more to it than that). However, about halfway through I changed my mind. Of course I already knew roughly how it would end, but it was just so tragic. I was so overwhelmingly sad. Levana as a young woman had so much potential, if she had just had someone to help her channel her emotions and teach her how to overcome. Characters: "She tried to brush away the sting of rejection, the knowledge that she was still not good enough...she pressed the feelings down, down, letting them turn hard and cold inside, while her face was smiling and pleasant." Obviously, this is Levana's story. However, we see characters familiar to us sprinkled throughout (especially if you've already read Winter, like I had), which was fun. Some of the characters that have already passed on in the other books are here and alive, too. We get to see some of the events that are only speculated on by Cinder and her friends. There are a couple of other characters that are new to this story, that really wrung my little heart out as well. When we first meet Levana here she's a relatively normal 15 year old girl! She's been abused at the hands of her egotistical, cruel older sister, neglected by cold, distracted parents, and pushed and pulled into the image of a perfect princess (since, as the second born daughter, she's only fit to be married off). Levana is gifted - or cursed - with a quick mind, intelligent and resourceful - the mind of a queen. She's also terribly scarred, as much mentally and emotionally as physically. This combination has resulted in her being an entirely self-centered, self-absorbed person who quite literally never thinks of other people or their feelings except as they pertain to HER feelings or desires. I think that in the end, selfishness was Levana's true issue. She is one of the most selfish characters I've met in a long time. She becomes egotistical, but she didn't start out that way. She reacts to pain by assuming that the world owes her something (not a hard conclusion to come to, when you're a spoiled princess anyway). She comes to believe that she is entitled to whatever she wants, no matter what it takes to get it. No matter how much she might hurt other people, even the one person she actually cares about. She has no concept of true love for anyone. She hurts, but beyond that she knows almost no emotion. Plot: This is a novella, so the plot is pretty straightforward. I.e., how Levana became queen and all the people she hurt in the process. Worldbuilding/Setting: If you're familiar with any of the other Lunar Chronicles books, you're already familiar with Luna and her people. If you're not, I strongly recommend starting with Cinder! This story is basically the backstory that we never see fully in the main 4 books. You could start with Fairest, as chronologically it is actually first, but I don't think it's very interesting without that prior knowledge. The setting is there, but it's not explained as well. Rating: 3.5 stars. I'm struggling to give this one 4 because it really feels like a flashback that should have been somewhere in Cinder.
Really good! If you liked the other Lunar Chronicles, you'll like this. Especially if you like tears.
This is a huge series! There aren't six books to this series but eleven! Four are mostly short stories, but they're fillers. They fill in the gaps between the novels. I read on Marissa Meyer's website, that the stories could be read in three ways. First was as the books came out; easy enough. Next, as the novels released, with the short story fill-ins or in chronological order. I chose chronological order, so I read Fairest first. Then... well, you'll see as I review. I have to say though, Meyer's a cool storyteller! I really enjoyed these books. All of them. (Lunar Chronicles original banner found on Google and edited by me.) This is a brief summary. I refuse to say a lot because it's almost a novella instead of a novel. It's an excellent story, told by Meyer in a simple, yet enthralling voice that keeps you hooked until the very end. You discover Levana's nature, why she is the way she is and how she rises to the throne, crushing ANYONE who could possibly stand in her way. Anyone! For the full review:http://tinyurl.com/jgd5mdr **Book series is from my personal library.
I loved reading it at school!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This one is a companion story about one of my favorite villains ever written. Queen Levana in The Lunar Chronicles is certifiably insane and wickedly powerful. I greatly enjoyed a look at her youth and the revelation that her whole family is nutballs. What I wish though is that we would have seen her even younger than she first appeared. She's on the verge of 16 in the beginning of this one and there are some flashbacks to younger days which help clear the picture of how she became the way she is. However, when this opens, she is already got a lot of loose screws. She makes one horrible choice after another and quite frankly has large obsession issues. I really liked getting to see hints and scenes with other characters throughout (Dr. Erland, Cinder, Jacin, Winter). The setting is entirely on Luna also which was a great treat and it was fantastic getting to learn more about their world in general. I loved getting to see how the Lunar army of hybrids and the letumosis virus came into being. I do recommend reading this in between Cress and Winter. It was very enjoyable though I do wish it would've shown more of why cruelty just came so naturally to this royal family.
This book starts off with a horrible dream/memory of Levana’s. Right off the bat, the author yanks on your heart strings and makes you fall in love with this character. Not for long though. Before you know it, you will hate her and lover her and then hate her all over again. This book is emotional as well as entertaining. The world building in this book just hits on the surface. I haven’t read any of the other books in the series so I am assuming there is better world building in those. This book just barely scratches the surface of all the questions I have about this world. I will definitely rent the others from the library. To see my full review, check out my blog AlliesOpinions on wordpress!
I have now read all of the lunar chronicles, I really loved the modern twist of the fairytale in a unique and different way.
Although this is just a companion novella, this is my favorite book in the series I think. I loved seeing from Levana's perspective.
Great book .at the beggining you really have to forget what you already know about levana and read all of it i read it and im ten so all you teenagers i would reccomend it for eleven and uo because it was an easy read but had some content that was mature
I read this book on paper back and just want to say this book is filled with love and tragidy! I started the book during the weekend and finish it! Please read this book -The Bookworm-