Review: Fairest by Marissa Meyer

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.


This book probably has the most insane villain in young adult.

Or…I think it does…. *pouts and taps her chin with her finger*

*The Courtney Love Stare*

This novella is the story of how Levana became Queen of Luna and slowly spiraled into the deep despair of insanity. There is no possibility that she’s just evil. The way she makes decisions is more than just irrational behavior.

Marissa Meyer writes with beauty and darkness. Her prose makes you want to read more no matter how late into the night. She’s seductively talented at pacing. The authors I love most excel at pacing and writing down genuine emotion: Karen Marie Moning, J.K. Rowling, and Melina Marchetta are among my favorites who master this. Meyer made me pay attention to her writing more than anything. The characters developed in a way that made me feel the drama unfold as if I were watching them through a mirror (Do you get the reference. Tee Hee!). They walked into a scene and they shouted and screamed yelling at me to pay attention. They were bitchy and I listened.

We start with Levana at the age of sixteen. Levana has always been ugly and grotesque beneath her alluring glamour. Her body is ridden with scars.

We see the culture and people of Luna. The castle, the technology, the traditions, the glamours and everything that spells Sexy Space Aliens. Let’s face it, the aliens are sexy. Of course, it’s because of their glamours. It’s like an entire planet of hunky and curvy models. Karl Lagerfield would have a field day.

*Karl wiggles eyebrows “Sexy Aliens, huh?”

Levana is the type of person I would normally hate to read about, if she were the main character of a full length novel. If it were just for her scars, I’d be shipping it faster than UPS. But, her decisions are more than just evil. I love villains. They’re gross. They hate people without reason. They get in your face and stick sharp objects into random strangers. They are so fucking badass. But, Levana is the type of villain that I can’t like. This book did not make me sympathize with her. I am a cold hearted bitch. I do not care about characters unless they give me a valid reason for their actions. Levana never did this. But, I’m not blaming the book for this. This is the point of view of the villain. Therefore, you’re meant to hate her.

Okay, here comes the part where I have to separate myself apart from other reviews as: the reviewer who gave Fairest a bad grade. The pressure to like this book was really stressing me out. I got to a certain point in the book where I came to the conclusion I would have to mention the “bad things Brigid didn’t like”. The more I thought about it, the more it made me hesitant to read more. Once I finished the book, I put it down with a disappointed “crap.”

SURPRISE!!!!!

I felt like this because I keep seeing friends on Goodreads, twitterians (what I call twitter people. Heh), and other bloggers rate this book four or five stars. One after another, those reviews came. I want to follow those reviewers. I want to give this book a good grade, but I’m unable to do so. I have too many problems that I won’t forgive.

I have a list:

1. The slut shaming:

This books intent is to let the reader to understand the villain. Its intent is also to show what makes Levana the bad guy. My personal opinion is that the slut shaming in this book is presented as a way to show how twisted, sadistic, mean, and disillusioned Levana is:

She had once told Levana that she felt queenly having to lift her skirts as she went up and down the stairs. It had taken all of Levana’s efforts not to ask if that was the same reason she lifted her skirts all those other times too.

The problem with this is that slut shaming is used as a device that makes the issue belittled, undermined, and ignored as a critical issue in today’s society. The most small and inconsequential sentences can be attributed to slut shaming, and often they are:

It was easy to tell who would be warming her sister’s bed that night.

Small and insignificant they may seem, but there is a bigger issue that lies behind that sentence. A lot of people write off this issue as joke or a silly female idea. One of my status updates on Goodreads had a comment from a guy asking me if slut shaming was a “pinball machine.” We see it everyday. I see it in real life and online almost every fucking single day. The author pushes aside the reality of this societal problem as a way to use it for her character’s personality. I refuse to justify this just because it’s the villain, whether I like her or not is not the issue.

2. The portrayal of the selfish and beautiful bitch sister:

Young Adult is a genre that is dearly close to my heart, yet I have so many misgivings and hatred toward certain things, one of them I’ve already mentioned. The girl on girl hate that is often in the novels is another. Rarely do we find friendships or girls being kind and generous towards one another in this genre, and many of the other genres. The irony is that the genres targeted towards women are usually the ones that have the most slut shaming and girl on girl hate.

Channary is portrayed as the selfish, jealous, egotistical older sister who obsesses with her looks in almost every scene. She’s a bitch, and she’s meant to be. Again, just because this is in the POV of Levana doesn’t mean I can excuse. This is not a justifiable reason.

example one: 

“Why aren’t there any mirrors in here? I want to see how beautiful I look for my tear-filled performance.”

example two:

 Then, quick as a viper, Channary backhanded Levana across the face, sending her stumbling into one of the bedposts. 

*Beyonce snappy fingers* 

3. The unrealistic actions of the characters

 I’m going to have to put this section in spoilers. There’s just no way to prevent spoilers. I’m going to put this section in black highlight. Just highlight the black and you’ll be able to see the spoilers.

Unless you’ve read the book please don’t read this section:

Those of you who’ve read the novella know that Channary is very spoiled and thinks only of herself. Of course, she does. She’s constantly looking in the mirror, yelling, and showing cruelty towards servants. She’s a mean bitch. Ever since Levana was little, Channary has bullied and pushed Levana into doing things that could only be cruel and sadistic. We learn the way Levana receives her scars: her sister in a random act of cruelty pushes part of Levana’s body into the fire. She burns so bad that she glamours herself every second of her life to hide herself from others and from herself.

My grievance with this is that psychologically, a child who is a spoiled brat doesn’t just push her sister into a fire because she’s supposedly cruel. If she’s cruel enough to push her into a fire, there is something psychologically wrong to the point where she would have to be considered insane. There is no development or explanation in the text that convinces the reader that Channary is mentally ill. Obviously, we know that Levana is. In comparison, Levana actually changes to let us know when and how she becomes insane. She’s delusional and convinces herself of things that a normal person wouldn’t. She manipulates and coerces others and herself into believing she’s in love with a man she barely knows. She tricks a man into believing he’s attracted to her. In her obsession, she becomes cruel and eventually mad. This, we did not get from Channary. We didn’t get any indication that she was mentally ill. Instead, we’re told she’s selfish, mean, and cruel.
4. The plot that disappeared:

The plot was Levana, her character, and her past. That’s it.

Yeah…not a plot.

I couldn’t pick out an actual consistent and integral plot in this novella. She was the plot. I’m having a difficult time deciding if I can forgive this. Can I mark this as a reason to lower my grade of this book, even though it’s not a full length novel? I’m wrestling with this. I’m not sure if I can let this go because it’s only a novella. I’m mentioning to let you guys know about and decide for yourself.

That moment you realize you’re a lonely ass reviewer. The reviewer that was disappointed by a book everyone loved.

*I’m a fucking rainbow cat*

YEAH. THAT. 

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8 thoughts on “Review: Fairest by Marissa Meyer

  1. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum says:

    I’ll be reading this one soon so the jury’s still out on whether or not I’ll like it, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility that I end up being in the minority with you – I can be SUPER picky about my YA…!

    • Brigid says:

      Anything is possible. But, if you’ve read her novels before than you’ll probably like it. I went into this not having read her series before which was a terrible idea. I wasn’t spoiled, but starting with the villain’s POV? It was just not what I was expecting. I usually love villains, but this didn’t work out.

      JOIN THE CLUB. I love Young Adult, but I’m super super picky. I get really ticked off about things.

  2. Faye M. says:

    Awww, it breaks my heart to see that you didn’t like this one at all, Brigid. I’ve always loved Meyer’s books, and she has been successful at creating strong, independent, and kickass heroines especially in the previous books published in this series. Hopefully when I do read this I’d love it because I would be thoroughly disappointed if I won’t >_< The slut-shaming does worry me!

    Faye at The Social Potato

    • Brigid says:

      I think it would help, if you think of this book as A. a novella that is actually a novella (most people have been describing it as a full length novel) and B. a character study. I went into this with high expectations. I think that I shouldn’t have started with this. I should have started with Cinder, but I thought since it was a prequel it would be okay to start here. BAD BAD MISTAKE. Since you’ve read the series, I think you’ll enjoy it much more than I did. I went into this cold turkey.

  3. Tabitha (Not Yet Read) says:

    Yes to the slut shaming, I noticed it but I thought of it as get way of trying to make herself feel like the better person. It was so obvious she was jealous of her sister. I set your point here.

    And yes Channary was never shown as mentally ill but she had to have been to do the things she did. Crazy runs in their blood I guess.

    • Brigid says:

      I get really bothered by slut shaming these days. Most of what I see now is that authors use it more of a device rather than acknowledging the problem front and center. That bother me.

      I guess it did. But, I had a hard time finding the explanation in the text all the same.

  4. Molly Mortensen says:

    I figured Lavania was a bit nuts, but not all out crazy. Nice mirror pun! I agree, pacing is so important! I was looking forward to sympathizing with Lavania, but sounds like she’s just plain evil. Yeah, I understand sometimes a book everyone loves just doesn’t work for me. Thanks for blanking out the spoilers. I’ll have to remember to come back if my book ever comes.

    • Brigid says:

      Thank you! I think it was just the author’s plan to have her always be evil. But, I think she wanted to give a reason. This book is the reason for why she is the way she is. I understand the character, even though I didn’t like her. You’re welcome. It’s just more respectful to hide spoilers if you’re going to talk about something that is very much a spoiler. I hope you enjoy the book better than I did. I think I’ll like the novels better.

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