So I finished Fairest on my recent trip to Illinois to see relatives (My aunt was turning 80 and we all decided it was too big a milestone not to do something big. And, yes, you read that right, I said aunt.) and it was awesome!
Fairest is a short novel prequel of sorts to the Lunar Chronicles. It centers on Levana and how she got to be the “Evil Queen”. It starts when Levanna is 15 and her parents have just been the victims of an assassination by a Shell that infiltrated the palace. We meet a an insecure, lonely, un-loved, friendless teen girl with little to no confidence and absolutely no self esteem. Her older sister, the now Queen Channery, taunts her constantly, and it is revealed her parent’s treated her with little to no interest.
The only one who shows her any kindness is a young guard, Evret Hayle, who Levana has a crush on. She soon fancies herself in love with him and grows jealous when she finds out he is married to a beautiful woman, and that they are expecting a baby soon. When his young wife dies in child birth, Levana at first attempts to comfort him, and then decided that his wife would make the perfect glamour for her. She then tries to convince him that he loves her now using her gift to manipulate him, all because she miss understood his previous actions.
Channery, on the other hand, is a vain, conceited young woman who toys with the men at court, and has no interest in governing her people, only parties, clothes, and suitors. When Levnna shows more understanding of court proceedings, particularly the engineering of Letumois and it’s cure, she berates her younger sister. She is cruel to Levana at every chance, and even to the guards forbidding Evret to go to his wife’s side when she is in labor. In short, she is a horrible queen. The worst, however, is what Channery did to Levana when Levana was a small child.
Now, we all know what Levana did to Selene/Cinder, but knowing what was done to Levana by her mother, it’s not hard to see why she chose to burn Selene when she rationalized why she had to go, and boy did she rationalize it. I don’t want to give it away, but there is definitely a reason for Levana to hate Channery as much as she does, and for her to wear that veil all the time when communicating via netscreen. It doesn’t excuse what she did to Selene, but it does give a better understanding of Levana’s mind set.
To sum up, the novel gave great insight into Levana’s mind and how she thinks. It helps to paint a better picture of why and how Levana is the way she is. I understand her and her motives far better now than I did before. She may be a bit twisted in the head, but then again, we are all a product of our experiences and Levana hasn’t exactly had the picture perfect life you’d expect for a Queen.
I’m rating this one a half star lower though than the others because I would have like to have a little more than just Levana’s POV and a few scenes from Evret’s, perhaps seeing a scene or two from Channery’s perspective to understand her better as well and why she hates Levana. The timeline was also a bit confusing to tell at times in terms of how many years/months had gone by. Breaking it up into chapters with just a year as a heading would have corrected that. So, Three and a Half Lightsabers.