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REVIEW: Marissa Meyer’s FAIREST Is Dark, Devious, and Compelling

Marissa Meyer’s FAIREST adds a deliciously dark twist to THE LUNAR CHRONICLES.

There isn’t a YA sci-fi / fantasy series out there right now that’s quite as delightful as Marissa Meyer’s THE LUNAR CHRONICLES. You may be weary because loose fairy tale retellings can be very hit-or-miss, but this series has it all– adventure, romance, laughs, suspense, and one seriously evil antagonist, Queen Levana of Luna. FAIREST is her story.

In this prequel to CINDER, we meet 15-year-old Levana just after her parents death, as her sister Channary is about to ascend to the throne. Withdrawn into herself and constantly masked in glamours thanks to the scars that cover her body, Levana is sheltered, lonely, and desperate for a connection. She becomes infatuated with Evret Hayle, a married palace guard ten years her senior with a baby on the way.

The more Levana learns that all the things she wants– power, attention, Evret, acceptance, and physical beauty– are out of her reach, the more she manipulates her fate through vicious schemes and her powers of persuasion. So begins a harrowing ten-year journey through her rise to power.

Levana’s story is powerful, but it sets a distinctly different tone from the rest of the series. While CINDER, SCARLET, and CRESS focus on a lovable band of interstellar misfits trying to save the planet from a domineering regime and solve their own individual mysteries at the same time, FAIREST digs deep into what makes the antagonist of the series tick. Levana’s mind is full of dark corners and little regard for others, which creates some genuinely disturbing scenarios throughout the novel.

There’s one major thing we do appreciate, however: The story shows us how Levana came to be such a twisted, brutal character, but it doesn’t try to justify her actions. This is important! Dicey childhood or no, nothing justifies leading a mass genocide. We’re so, so glad that the story never tries to convince us to sympathize with her. Thankfully, it doesn’t lay the eeeeevil on too thick either. Levana is human… A flawed, selfish, unforgivable human.

In the spirit of JK Rowling, Marissa Meyer is a champion of weaving hints from one book into another without making them glaringly obvious. We don’t know if there’s as many hints in FAIREST, but there are wonderful references galore. You don’t have to read the existing LUNAR CHRONICLES titles before picking up this one, but we guarantee you that it will make the reading experience super enjoyable as each reference pops into place!

This novel was originally meant to be a novella and there are still a few somewhat unfortunate remnants. For instance, no chapters and lots of time jumps. All the same, it was a quick, fascinating read that did an exemplary job examining the mind of a villain.

Already love the series? Keep in mind that there’s a hefty excerpt from WINTER on both the hardover and eBook version of this one!

Due to its creepy and inherently less enjoyable nature, FAIREST doesn’t quite reach the top of our ranking for THE LUNAR CHRONICLES books. But we’re still giving it four stars, which says something huge about the series as a whole!

RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars

FAIREST is available in bookstores and online now!

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The final book in THE LUNAR CHRONICLES, WINTER, is now available for pre-order.