(The Lunar Chronicles #3.5)
Author: Marissa Meyer
Narrator: Rebecca Soler
Release: January 27, 2015
In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.
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. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.
Fairest is a novella, albeit a long one, in The Lunar Chronicles series. Its titled as being #3.5, but really it should be called #0.5 as it tells the story of Levana growing up as a child, a teenager, and finally her rise to Queen, all happening before the first book in the series, Cinder. I went into this story a bit apprehensive as I knew it would be told from Levana's point of view and I didn't know if I would really enjoy it, but I am happy to say that I really loved reading Levana's story! This novella will whet readers' whistles, so to speak, while we all wait impatiently for the final book in this series.
Fairest begins with Levana as a young girl and most of the story follows her as a late teen. Right from the start its easy to tell that Levana is different from Meyers' other heroines. I noticed bits of her future madness woven into the story from the get go, hinting at what she would one day become. Levana wasn't always a power hungry crazy person though, and it was nice to see the journey she took to get there. In fact, in her younger days she actually had the best for her people in mind.
I did appreciate that the author didn't make her all sweet and innocent and then have one big event turn her crazy. Her journey to the Queen Levana we know after reading three books in The Lunar Chronicles was actually pretty complicated. Teenage Levana is just slightly..."off". She doesn't read other people and situations the way that normal people do and she seems to get lost in her own fantasy world a lot. However, the most detrimental events that finally broke poor Levana revolve around a romance that was just heartbreaking, especially since, as the reader, we can see all the problems with the romance arising and can predict how things will end up. Everything involving this romance we so unsettling. Combine that with the upbringing with her parents and the bullying by her older sister and you get one looney toon ruler of the moon.
Some questions from the other books get answered here, so I recommend that readers who love the series don't skip this novella, and definitely read books #1-3 before reading this one. In Fairest, we learn more about Levana's disfigurement, which is alluded to often in the series, as well as how Cinder got separated from her family and ended up where she did. A unexpected treat was all that we learn about Winter. I didn't realize her backstory, so that was an interesting addition.
Overall this novella was entertaining and enlightening and it flowed just like all of the other books in the series so far. I loved getting more insight into Levana's background and how she came to be the deranged, sadistic, starved-for-power Queen that she is in current books. Highly recommended!
Notes on the Narrator: Rebecca Soler narrates all of the books in The Lunar Chronicles, and she manages to make each narrator sound just different enough to give them their own personality. Her narration for Levana was wonderful...a bit sweet, a bit cunning, even a bit creepy at times later in the story. The way her voice grew and changed as Levana grew older and became crazier was great. As always, I highly recommend this entire series on audio, including this novella!
Recommended for fans of: The rest of The Lunar chronicles, stories told from the villain's POV, and young adult sci-fi.