Title: Fairest (Lunar Chronicles 3.5)
Author: Marissa Meyer
Genre: YA/SFF/villain backstory
Date Read: 07/12/2016 – 08/12/2016
I honestly can’t decide where I sit with this book. Was it supposed to make my sympathise with Queen Levana, the evil queen terrorising the Earthen Commonwealth in the Lunar Chronicles? Or was it meant to show how dark and twisted she was and nothing else? Because I couldn’t work out what the book wanted me to feel, I ended up feeling quite unsettled by the end.
I also have to apologise, because there will probably be spoilers in this review. It was too hard to talk about some of the things I had issue without going into detail.
Levana has grown up unloved and unwanted, the younger, unappreciated princess of Luna. When a palace guard shows her some kindness, she latches onto him and uses her powerful manipulation ability to convince him that he loves her as much as she thinks she loves him. This is just the beginning of the downward spiral that leads to her becoming the feared and despised ruler that Cinder and her friends take down.
Levana is incredibly messed up. And you can see how she would justify her actions to herself. As with Heartless, which I reviewed on Monday, the progression of the main character into darkness is so gradual you almost don’t register it happening. And at first, I really did sympathise with Levana and her plight. However, the story reached a point where her actions were just too problematic (mind-controlling someone into marrying and having sex with you is rape, even if you’re making them think they’re willing), before the point where I felt Marissa Meyer wanted us stopping sympathising.
Given the subject material, perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised, but the whole tone of the book just felt so much darker than the rest of the Lunar Chronicles. I felt like I wanted to go back and read all my favourite Cress/Thorne scenes just to remind myself what I enjoyed most about the series. Maybe this was Meyer’s intention. Like I said, I was never sure!
While it was interesting to see the whole progression of Levana’s evilness, it didn’t really add a huge amount to the story, and I can see why some people are fairly “eh” about this particularly installment. We saw a lot of familiar characters, and it was interesting seeing exactly how Levana carried out her plans to have Cinder killed and things like that, and also get a bit more of a glimpse into the world of Luna, but I don’t think you’re missing much if you’ve skipped it.