When I finished reading Cress, book three in the Lunar Chronicles, I eagerly awaited Winter (and I am still eagerly waiting to read it!). I went to the library hoping to miraculously find a copy of Winter (no luck there). It was then discovered Fairest: Levana’s Story–prequel to the events in the Lunar Chronicles.
A few initial thoughts:
- I had super high hopes for this books. I wanted Levana to be redeemed or at least a bit more relatable or less evil. And in hindsight, those hopes were too high. More on this in a bit.
- I really enjoyed getting more of Winter’s story before reading the 4th novel. I look forward to reading where her story takes her.
Fairest follows the story of how Levana becomes the queen of Luna and the evil dictator we meet in the first three Lunar Chronicles novels. At the start of the novel, Levana is the younger princess who is often pitied and lonely. He parents are killed and her sister Channery becomes the indifferent queen of Luna. While Levana watches Channery rule without a skill or an interest in her country, she hopes for an opportunity to change her destiny. But is there a difference between fate and destiny? And how much of them can someone actually control?
I really do feel bad for Levana at the beginning of the story. She is lonely, pitied, and lacks true friendship or caring in her life. She doesn’t have high hopes for her future which is sad. Plus, she’s a teenage girl, and that can be a hard time for us all. However, as the story progressed, I felt less bad for Levana and disliked her more. I felt that she didn’t handle her challenges well and made things happen how she wanted them too.
The biggest situation where Levana forced things to happen in the way she wanted was with Evret. At times, it was painful to read about her obsession and inability to understand how he was feeling. Seriously, she kind of drove me crazy. I felt like she was just a teenage girl with a crush (which she was at the start) and she never matured or gained wisdom about love. I disliked that she essentially forced him to marry her, treated him rudely and didn’t care for Winter. From these experiences, its clear Levana doesn’t understand love.
I also didn’t like how Levana actually did try to kill Selene/Cinder as a toddler. I had hoped that was a rumor, but she actually was behind it! That made her nearly un-redeemable for me (her assassination of Evret completes that opinion). It was unimpressive that she actually did everything that was rumored.
The one point that I had hoped would make her more relatable was the way Levana hides her true face behind her glamour. I certainly felt sorry for her. But again, the way she goes crazy about the mirrors and “perfecting” Solstice’s glamour is unimpressive.
Overall, I was disappointed that Levana was not a more complex character. She was not developed much beyond the rest of the novels in the series. In fact, I would say this book just furthered her negative personality further. I finished it because I hoped to find something better or more positive about Levana’s personality.
One of the big take-aways for me was the way control and power corrupted Levana. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. That is certainly true of her. As she gained power, she became more obsessed with keeping it–even in, or perhaps especially in, relationships. Levana doesn’t know how to do what is best for her people and her country. She just focuses on herself. That is what makes her evil–her obsession with her own image.
What did you think of Fairest?