Fairest: The Lunar Chronicles: Levana's Story
By Carrie R. Wheadon,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Absorbing prequel from the evil queen's perspective.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Readers can look at the original Snow White tale and see how this prequel plays with it, just as this series has done with Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and Rapunzel. They also can look at the future society depicted here on the moon and compare it with other science-fiction imaginings.
Good vs. evil is the struggle here, and readers get up close and personal with what traits contribute to evil: extreme ambition, vanity and insecurity, envy, and lack of empathy. The positive message lies in readers realizing it's possible to find a little empathy for those set so firmly on the wrong path. And nothing is really 100 percent good or evil or black or white. Also, it's hard to trust and really know someone who never shows her true face -- Levana always hides behind a "glamour."
Positive Role Models
Queen Levana becoming more and more evil as the story unfolds is well contrasted with her husband, Evret, a man who mourns his deceased wife and adores his child, doing all he can to protect her. It's also clear that, with her horrible family and upbringing, Levana was never given an example of what a good ruler, wife, or sister really was until it was probably too late.
Violence & Scariness
Mostly assassinations, one of them the sad death of a sympathetic character from a gunshot. Three others die from stab wounds, one described as a "throat slit to the spine." Mention that one person is executed for the assassination. A child and her nanny are thought murdered after a fire is set, plus flashbacks to a fire that disfigured Levana in her childhood. Another death from poisoning. A woman dies in childbirth. Talk of a disease sent to Earth to kill as many people as possible, and a mention that the queen's seamstress' feet were ordered removed so all she could do was sew. Sixteen-year-old Levana brainwashes someone into having sex with her.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Blood on the sheets in the morning after sex. Talk of Levana's sister's many affairs and her relief that she doesn't know who the father of her baby is. Mention that Levana's father had many mistresses.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Royalty drinks wine at a party.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that rabid readers of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles series will want to get their hands on this prequel. It's the shorter story of how the Lunar Queen Levana got to be her evil self. As the fairy-tale homage unfolds, we see Levana become more like the queen in "Snow White": more ambitious, envious, vain, insecure, and completely lacking in empathy. She's embroiled in assassinations by stabbing, gunshot, and fire (a near-assassination in that case) and brainwashes a man into having sex with her (not described, but she's 16 at the time). Her sister Channery is a worse queen, ordering her favorite seamstress' feet removed so the poor woman can concentrate on her sewing, as well as sleeping with lots of men (never described) before becoming pregnant, happy that she doesn't know the father of the baby. So with the mature content, this is definitely a teen series. The great thing about this one is the opportunity to get up close and personal with the series' antagonist. The positive message lies in readers realizing it's possible to find a little empathy for those set so firmly on the wrong path; nothing is really 100 percent good or evil or black or white.
Where to Read
Based on 2 parent reviews
Great story and writing, but WAY too short
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What's the Story?
Princess Levana is furious with her sister, Queen Channery, when she makes Levana give a speech at their parents' funeral while she runs off to fool around with a palace guard. At 15, Levana tries to look tearful as her sister's new Lunar subjects line up to offer their condolences. But she doesn't care all that much that her distant parents were assassinated. She cares more about a guard named Evret, whom she has a crush on, introducing her to his very pregnant wife, Solstice. Jealousy begins to get the better of her to the point of obsession when she uses her skill in glamours to make her look exactly like Solstice. When Solstice dies in childbirth, Levana thinks it's fate. She'll make Evret care for her by looking like Solstice permanently. Of course he may need extra persuading -- the kind only mind control can provide. Evret must never see her as she is, disfigured in a fire long ago, especially since she will be queen one day. No one must ever see.
Is It Any Good?
Readers love to hate Queen Levana, especially by the end of the third book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cress. We're rooting for her to get left at the altar almost as much as we're rooting for Cinder to kick her butt. FAIREST is a worthy prequel to a great series, and not only because it fills in a few holes after the first three books about what life on the moon is like, where Winter came from, and what happened to Princess Selene and her mother; it's because we get to see things from Levana's perspective, and it's positively haunting.
Fairest shows Levana slowly devolve from a lonely, neglected teen into an envious, spiteful, and murderous queen drunk on power. She's awful, but as readers see how she got to be that way there's no getting around having a glimmer of empathy for her. It's great added depth to the story and to the whole Lunar Chronicles series.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about protagonists and antagonists. How many stories do you read from the antagonist's perspective? Is it jarring to see how Queen Levana thinks? What do you think her biggest weakness is?
Did you like having this background to The Lunar Chronicles? Why do you think author Marissa Meyer wrote this prequel book in the middle of writing the main series?
Would you want a "glamour" to make yourself as beautiful as possible? If so, would you wear it all the time as Levana does? Or do you agree with Evret that it's more important to show others who you really are?
- Author: Marissa Meyer
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Brothers and Sisters, Fairy Tales, Space and Aliens
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
- Publication date: January 27, 2015
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 17
- Number of pages: 272
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: July 12, 2017
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