Fairest - Marissa Meyer Fairest is supposed to be the bridge book between Cress and the upcoming Winter, but it also doubles as a prequel book to the series at the same time, since the events for this one take place before the start of the series proper. It's also a novella, since it's not quite the size of a full-fledged book, but the page count is higher than some of those little tiny novellas, coming in at 222 pages. Despite not quite wowing me quite as much as I would have liked, I'd still consider this one an absolute must-read for fans of The Lunar Chronicles.

I should clarify: I read Fairest in one sitting within one afternoon, so I definitely enjoyed it. I'd been extremely curious to learn more about the evil Queen Levana and her motivations for being the way she is in the series. The setting for this one is entirely on Luna, which was fantastic to me because I've longed to explore the colonized Moon since the very start of the series. The writing style was as engaging as it always is with a Marissa Meyer book -she sets the tone perfection to tell Levana's story and there was a delicious air of mystery throughout the book, as she slowly gives out details to Levana's past, rife with childhood trauma and neglect.

When we're introduced to Levana, she's already in her teens and barring a few, too short lived (in my opinion) flashbacks to her youth, we see her go through her teens and into young-adulthood. I think my minor issues with the outcome of the plot stems from what I had inadvertently come to expect, going in. I thought the story would begin it's focus on Levana's traumatic childhood and slowly we'd get her metamorphosis into the wicked creature we know from The Lunar Chronicles. I don't know if it was the way we're introduced to her, but something threw me off. I just kept thinking: sure she's messed up, but she could so easily be brought back to her sense if someone just talked some sense into her...or gave her a good shake -which I longed to do throughout the book. So much of the trials she suffers are of her own making - barring that one awful thing when she and her sister were kids - that was horrible *shudders*

Of course, Levana never does get that talking to she so desperately needed in Fairest, and her entire teen years, into young adulthood are marred with one terrible decision after another. She does clearly seek power and has a natural talent for politics and...dictatorship, so while her personal life decisions are plagued by delusions and cruelty, her quest for power is nothing short of ingenious and filled with equally cruel actions to get what she wants more than anything: to rule over Luna...and eventually, Earth. It was extremely cool to see how Lunars and Levana in particular use their gifts of glamour with such ease. No one has any issues with others walking around as complete lies, with altered appearances or identities, this is the norm on Luna. It was also great to get glimpses into Princess Selene's birth and early childhood - as well as young Winter from the upcoming fourth and final book in The Lunar Chronicles.

What's the final verdict on Fairest? I liked it a lot, but it felt like it was missing a little something too. It was an insightful and fascinating read, but it might have benefited from being a full-length book to be honest. It didn't blow me away like some of my favorite novellas of late, but it easily kept my attention. A quick, if dark glimpse into the mind, and the past of one of the most famous villains in YA literature today.

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