Fairest by Marissa Meyer
Feiwel and Friends
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When Princess Levana’s parents are brutally murdered by an assassin, the empire falls to her cruel elder sister Channery to rule. But Channery isn’t interested in the politics of ruling her kingdom. She’s more interested in ridiculing her younger sister, berating her for her unrequieted love and the ugly scars Levana hides behind a glamour. As Levana steps forward to manage the country’s affairs, she finds she has a talent for being in charge. When Channery’s sudden death leaves Levana to rule as regent, her thirst for power only intensifies. If only she didn’t have to step aside when Channery’s daughter Seline came of age…
Fans of Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles will not want to miss this look into what turned a shy, intelligent young girl into the ruthless queen intent on ruling the earth. The plot chugs forward, building momentum and gaining more and more complexity and intensity as it grows. While Levana isn’t the most sympathetic protagonist, we can’t help identifying with her resentment toward her self-centered parents and the terror she feels toward her sister. But it’s not just Levana’s younger self that readers see in Fairest. Many Lunar characters who make an appearance in The Lunar Chronicles are featured in this story. Readers will recognize the Thaumaterge who kept Cress captive on the satellite and the pilot who helped her escape. We also get a sneak peek at Winter, the heroine in the next book in the series.
If you’re new to this series, I would definitely not start with this book, even though it comes first chronologically. I’d definitely start with Cinder so that you understand the significance of events in Fairest. Series fans should definitely give this one a go. I have a feeling even more things from this story will feel significant when reading Winter.
Levana uses her Lunar gift to seduce a man. There’s a brief reference to him waking in her bed and seeing blood on the sheets and being horrified at what he’s done. That’s about the only reference to them having had sex. She later briefly thinks about having a baby with her husband.
Levana bears scars from a vicious attack in which her sister pushes her into a fire. Later, she tries to murder a political rival by having her burned alive. Her parents were murdered by an assassin with a knife. Some brief details – less about the murder and more about the condition of the room afterward. Levana approves some pretty controversial policies allowing experimentation on certain citizens. Not a lot of details given there. Brief reference to torture being used to extract information from a prisoner. No details about any methods used. An assassin shoots a man in the chest. He is shot as well.