“She cried for the girl who had never belonged” // Review of “Fairest” by Marissa Meyer

Title: Fairest (Lunar Chronicles 3.5)
Author: Marissa Meyer
Genre: YA/SFF/villain backstory
Date Read: 07/12/2016 – 08/12/2016
Rating: ★★★

Review:

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.


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#WWW and #WIPpet Wednesday – 14 December, 2016

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! This is a blog hop hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for today, and just answer the three questions.

wwwwednesday

What have you recently finished reading?

fairestcoverJust one book completed this week, and that was Fairest by Marissa Meyer. I had mixed feelings about it, as it is a helluva lot darker than the rest of the Lunar Chronicles, and I’m not sure that’s a good thing. My review will be up on Friday.

My reviews of Heartless by Marissa Meyer and Eléonore by Faith Rivens went up this week. Click the links to read them.

What are you currently reading?

pyramidscoverI’ve got to be honest, I’ve been barely reading at all over the past week. I’m really tired and in need of the Christmas break, and don’t have the attention span for anything. However, the two books that are on my GoodReads currently reading shelf right now are Letters to the End of Love by Yvette Walker and Pyramids by Terry Pratchett.

My copy of Pyramids was picked up for $2 from a market raising money for an animal shelter, and when I opened it, I discovered an inscription that appears to be from Terry Pratchett himself. I’ve compared it to a few photos of his autograph online and it resembles some more than others, so at some point I’m going to post on the official TP forum and ask.

What do you think you’ll read next?

motherofdreamscoverI’ve still got Mother of Dreams edited by Makoto Ueda and Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank to read to finish my challenges for the year, so it will be one of those. I’m not entirely sure I’m going to get the challenges finished, but I’m going to try!

What are you reading this week? 🙂

wednesdaybannerThe other blog hop for this week is WIPpet Wednesday. If you’re a writer, you are very welcome to join us in this one by posting an excerpt from your WIP that somehow relates to the date. You can click the blue guy on the right of this blog to be taken to the link up.

So today’s excerpt is not exactly related to the date but to the fact that this will most likely be my final WIPpet before Christmas. Imagine that you’re from a medieval-verging-on-Renaissance-era fantasy world, and you’ve ended up in today’s modern world. The person you’re protecting has had her memories altered so that she fits into this world (and for other reasons), but you need to remember that you’re protecting her, so you’ve had to keep your regular memories and wing it. This is Max’s situation with Princess Clara right now. Clara dragged him Christmas shopping, and they’re waiting for the bus.

They had waited for Thursday night and late-night shopping so that they could do their errands in the early evening and not have to spend too much time outside. Even so, waiting just a few minutes for the bus was long enough in the hot weather. 

“One day when I’m rich and famous,” Clara remarked, “I’m going to have a chalet in the Swiss Alps so I can have cold Christmases every year, like it was supposed to be. Mulled wine and ugly sweaters and all of that.”

Max just nodded attentively. He had done a lot of research into Christmas over the past month. He had been confused for quite a while, as everything he looked at referred to snow and baked dinners and ugly sweaters, and he couldn’t work out why people would put themselves through that when the weather was so sweltering. Eventually, he had mentioned it to Clara. She had gently slapped him on the upside of his head and told him that he was reading about European Christmases and that the seasons were reversed here. He’d gone away and researched Europe and hemispheres and how the seasons worked her, and eventually grasped the rough idea of why it was different in Australia.

Back in Ye Olde Days, Australian families used to try to emulate an English Christmas with baked dinner, etc, but thankfully, times have changed. I travelled around Europe at Christmastime in 2013 baffling everyone with my talk of 40*C/104*F Christmas Days and seafood and salad Christmas lunches. And you have lunch and open presents and then just lie in front of the air conditioner with a cold drink while you digest, because that’s all you have the energy for.

There should be more Australian Christmas stories! Every year around this time, I say I’m going to write a one (or maybe a play), and it still hasn’t happened. One day! (I say that, but actually, cold English Christmas is 2013 was basically my favourite Christmas ever).

That’s it from me for now. This may well be my last unscheduled post for the year (apart , as next Wednesday, I will be getting my bags packed to head to my parents’ place the next day. With that in mind, I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season, whether you’re celebrating anything or just enjoying some time off. I’ll be back in 2017 for more!

~ Emily

#WWW and #WIPpet Wednesday – 07 December, 2016

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! This is a blog hop hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for today, and just answer the three questions.

wwwwednesday

What have you recently finished reading?

heartlesscoverI mentioned last week that Heartless by Marissa Meyer had come in for me at the library. I read it over a few short days and loved it. The ending felt like a bit of a punch in the gut but I’m not sure what else I was expecting for an origin story about the Queen of Hearts. My review will go up on Monday.

thetwocoverI also finished listening to The Two by Will Carver. I didn’t enjoy it as much as Girl 4; I felt there was a bit too much misdirection so the twist didn’t feel so much like a twist as it becoming a completely different story.

Then I read a graphic novel version of the Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde, which is not on GoodReads! I know I could add it myself but I’m lazy. 😛

elenorecoverAnd last but not least, I finished Eléonore by our very own Faith Rivens (who was kind enough to provide me an ARC), and quite enjoyed it, particularly in the second half. I’ll have a review up on Friday.

I’ve also posted reviews of Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen by Dylan Horrocks and Heat and Light by Ellen van Neerven this week.

What are you currently reading?

fairestcoverI have started reading Fairest by Marissa Meyer. It’s the Lunar Chronicles prequel focusing on Queen Levana. Possibly reading this so soon after Heartless will leave me feeling rather down, but oh well. This should be quite a quick read, I read the first 15% in my half-hour lunch break.

What do you think you’ll read next?

lettersendoflovecoverI mentioned last week that my last Australian Women Writers Challenge book for the year is Letters to the End of Love by Yvette Walker. I definitely want to read that next. I did post a full December TBR last week. I’m hoping to finish the challenges I signed up for at the start of the year. I’m so close!

What are you reading this week? 🙂

wednesdaybannerThe other blog hop for this week is WIPpet Wednesday. If you’re a writer, you are very welcome to join us in this one by posting an excerpt from your WIP that somehow relates to the date. You can click the blue guy on the right of this blog to be taken to the link up.

This week I’ve added the digits of the date and the month together and I have ten sentences. Clara has just been forced to witness the execution of her parents. Maybe. They just disappeared in a flash of blue light so I’ve left myself open. Either way, Clara is assuming the worst. She’s in a room in the palace, the execution takes place outside in a courtyard.

“No!” Clara screamed, finally finding her voice.

As heads turned towards her, the guard who had opened the window hurriedly closed it again.

“No!” she screamed again. “No, no, no, no!”  She pounded on the glass with her fists before she was pulled away and the curtains were drawn. Once again she was being dragged out the door, down the corridor. She struggled in the soldiers’ grip, but it was to no avail. They were far stronger than she. When that failed, she let herself go limp in their arms; she wasn’t going to make it easy for them. They grunted as they were forced to support her entire weight, but they continued to drag her along with them.

On the upside, this does at least lead to Clara escaping (temporarily) from the guy who is rather successfully taking over her kingdom right now.

That’s it from me for now. I will do my best to get to your blogs this week, but I have choir practices tomorrow and Friday nights, then an audition and our concert on Saturday. But I’ll try to squeeze it in!

~ Emily

December 2016 TBR

Who else can’t believe it’s already December? I certainly can’t! I’ve still got two reading challenges to finish, and while I have the various things I need to finish over this month recorded in various places, I thought it might be a good idea to list it all here. In any other month, I wouldn’t be too worried about trying to finish this number of books, but December is always so busy, and I barely have a free weekend between now and Christmas. We can only hope!

Australian Women Writer’s Challenge

lettersendoflovecoverThe goal I set for myself at the beginning of the year was to read and review at least 12 books by Australian Women, including two by Indigenous authors and two by LGBTQI* authors. While I have reviewed 15, I still need to read one more by a lGBTQI* author. The book I have chosen is Letters to the End of Love by Yvette Walker. This book sounds really enjoyable from the blurb and the reviews, so I’m hoping I enjoy it. I have this one out from the library at the moment, so I can get to it asap.

The 2016 Choose Your Own Challenge Challenge

This challenge has been run out of a GoodReads group. At the beginning of the year, I chose 20 prompts, and I still have five to go, but I’ve worked out which books to read to fill them, and I have copies of all of them, so here’s hoping!

elenorecoverElenore by Faith Rivens = a book with a protagonist who has your occupation

Librarian, that is, not demon hunter. I’d be no good at that. Faith was good enough to provide me with an ARC of this book, and I’m really excited to read her debut.

motherofdreamscoverMother of Dreams edited by Makoto Ueda = a book about a culture you’re unfamiliar with

A colleague who recently passed away wanted her library to given away to family and friends. She was very interested in Japanese culture and had a lot of books pertaining to that among her shelves. This is one of the, uh, seventeen that I ended up with.

fairestcoverFairest by Marissa Meyer = an “in between the books” book (i.e. Book 1.5, 2.5, 3.5 of a series)

I recently replaced “the 16th book on your TBR” with this prompt, as for various reasons, that one wasn’t going to happen. But I’m gradually working my way through Marissa Meyer’s books that I am yet to read, and I’m excited to finally get to this one.

Pyramids by Terry Pratchett = a book published on the year you were born pyramidscover

I already had this on my list and was planning to get it from the library when I picked up a copy from a local market stall. It’s been a while since I read any Terry Pratchett, and this one is quite short, so I think it will be a good one to get back into his books with.

annefrankcoverDiary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank = a book from the Rory Gilmore Challenge

I remember starting Anne Frank’s diary once before, but I never finished it. I understand a lot more about the Second World War now, though, and I have seen the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam (I didn’t go in as the queue was around the block and I was quite sick; I ended up going back to the hotel and sleeping). I have a feeling this one is going to result in lots of tears.

So that’s it! I have 29 days and six books to get through (plus the one I’m reading at the moment)! Wish me luck!

~ Emily