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 β€œglamour” 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.


I am a huge fan of Marissa Meyer’s work, and Fairest certainly did not disappoint me. It’s a creepy, twisted and extremely well-written story, and every aspect – dare I say it – is practically perfect in its execution.

This is not the typical story where the heroine lives happily ever after, riding into the sunset with the hero, teenage angst in tow. Rather, this is a story about hostile beginnings, of unhappy endings, and of the inner workings of the mind of a villain.

Those who have read the first three books in the series know of the evil and manipulative Queen Levana. But what if Queen Levana isn’t as bad as she appears? What could possibly be beneath the Glamour and beauty of such a nefarious queen?

This is a psychological analysis above all else, one that I completely appreciated and was absorbed in from start to finish. Seeing the horrors of Levana’s childhood truly makes us understand how she came to be the evil, powerhungry queen she is in Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress. Her childhood is not an easy one – it’s filled with unimaginable horrors – and you begin to understand and even sympathize for her. Although you can see what shaped her to become such a villain, her actions are still inexcusable. Despite the drop of sympathy you have gained for her by reading about her upbringing, she’s still a villain, and Meyer never lets you forget that.

The parallels to the other books in the series are fascinating, and I found it interesting seeing things from the Lunars’ perspectives. From their motivations in needing an Earthen alliance to backstory about the origins of Princess Selene Cinder, everything is laid out wonderfully for you and you’re gifted with an entirely new side to the story.

Meyer’s writing is evidently much improved since her first novel, not only technically but stylistically as well. Her foreshadowing ability is much greater here than it was in her first novel, and the flow of her writing is absolutely breathtaking.

An intriguing physiological study on what makes us evil, Fairest is a strong addition to the Lunar Chronicles world – and Lunartics and non-Lunartics alike won’t want to miss this satisfying prequel.

Love is a conquest.
Love is a war.
Here is what I think of love.


60 thoughts on “Fairest

  1. I can’t say that I sympathized with Levana when I read Fairest, but I most certainly got to understand her more, and learn why she is the way she is. I loved all the little references to the other books in this one, and it was a ton of fun being able to connect the series.

  2. I’ve heard so many amazing things about Fairest, I can’t wait to read it. I’ve told myself I have to finish Scarlet and Cress first, but I’m reluctant to digin, for some reason…
    Beth x

  3. I hope you’re having a wonderful vacation right now! I’ve seen so many wonderful reviews for this book and it’s making me so desperate to buy it. I’d been holding off because I wanted a paperback, because the rest of the series I own are in paperback. I think the hardback looks beautiful though, so maybe it’s time I give in and buy it! I’m excited to be able to get into the mind of Queen Levana and see her origin story.

    1. Thank you Charnell! It was wonderful! xD

      Ha – I hear you! #BookwormStruggles Hopefully you’re able to get a copy soon, and when you do I hope you end up enjoying it as much as I did!

    1. Right in the feels, right? πŸ˜‰

      And I completely agree. It was really great getting to know Levana’s inner workings and seeing why she became the evil queen she is, you know?

  4. Eeeep, I loved this one. xD I’m doing weirdly evil villainous inspired posts because of it. MARISSA MEYER IS QUEEN. Although the other day I was reading a book and it had a minor character called Melissa Meyer and it was kind of hard to concentrate. πŸ˜‰

  5. Yes this was a good prequel even though I just really want Winter ASAP. I was definitely reminded that Levana was cruel and still the villain despite her story. Honestly I think I hate her more now. No matter the psychological trauma. Though her sister is worse.

    Awesome review ZOE!!!

  6. I got this when I saw Marissa last month, but I have not had time to read it. I know it’s a quick read, so I hope to get to it soon, but I’ve been reading so many books for school lately. haha

    Glad you really liked it!!

  7. I absolutely need this book in my life! I’m all for books that take a sneak peek into the minds of villains, and even more so if it’s a psychological or character study of Queen Levana. I remember hating her so much in the past three books, but I’d be kidding myself if I didn’t say I’m interested in seeing how she became to be the way she is. Lovely review, Zoe!

    1. It makes the villain so much more horrible if we’re able to know how they became so evil, you know? That’s really why I was so curious to read this; and after reading it her actions – however evil and horrible – almost make sense considering her backstory. (Even though that’s no excuse for doing what she does).

  8. OMG ZOE. I cannot believe I haven’t gotten to this yet. One of the main reasons I was skeptical about this book was that it was about Levana and I was afraid Meyer would somehow make me feel really bad about her situation and try to make me understand what she did and justify it in some way, but your review clearly states that she doesn’t let us forget Levana is the villain,so yes, haha, I shall read this as soon as it lands on my doorstep :0 beautiful review, Z.

    1. I was scared about that too Maddy! Meyer does let us sympathize with her just a bit, but at the same time she reminds us how horrible she is too.

  9. I have skimmed your review because I still haven’t read Cinder. I knooooow, wth right?! I promise I will this year though! Your rating is enough for me though, it looks like this author can’t do wrong! Lovely review Zoe! πŸ™‚

    1. AMIR! What have you been doing?!?! GO! GO! Haha…just kidding, but seriously – you’re definitely missing out!

  10. I need to get my hands on a copy! I always love villain stories, and this one hopefully won’t disappoint. Sadly, the hardcover is crazy expensive, and well, I want the hardcover. *sighs*

    1. *sighs* I hear you Shannelle. #BookwormProblems Hopefully you’re able to get a copy ASAP and end up loving it as much as I do!

  11. It was awesome seeing Levana’s point of view, especially after her typical evil Queen characterisation wasn’t it? I particularly loved seeing another angle to the story too, as you mentioned! Can’t wait for Winter now. Wonderful review Zoe!

  12. I still haven’t got any time to read this one but I really want to. Levana is a really interesting character to me and I’d love to hear her story. Not to mention psychological analysis which makes this even more appealing. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Great review, Zoe πŸ™‚

    1. She is definitely a fabulous villain, and seeing what made her so evil psychologically makes it that much more interesting, you know? Thank you!

  13. Ah, this is a gorgeous review, lovely!

    I still haven’t read CRESS, which is so ridiculous because I loved both CINDER and SCARLET, and CRESS is a retelling of Rapunzel! And I love Rapunzel! And it has more Thorne in it! How have I not read it? D: I did finally end up buying it in January, though, so hopefully that will incite me to read it ASAP. Because once I read CRESS then I can read FAIREST. Which sounds completely awesome. I love seeing villains’ backstories, and how they came to be who they are!

    1. Thank you Chiara! <3

      And definitely read Cress – especially if you loved Cinder and Scarlet – it will not disappoint. πŸ˜€

  14. Man, I thought that I was excited to read Fairest before, but now that I’ve read your review? OHCRAPINEEDTHISNOWLIKEASAP. I’ve always hated Levana (don’t we all?) so getting a glimpse into her mind and into her past will be… interesting, to say the least. Great, comprehensive review as always, Zoe!

  15. I actually had SUCH a great time with this book. Like you said, this is NOT a tale of redemption! That being said, I was totally going in wanting to be freaked out, which I was and I think my hatred for Levana has only grown. And as a villain, that’s an amazing thing.

    Great review <3

    1. I completely agree Nova. I sympathized with her a little bit, but at the end of the day, Meyer ends with reminding us that she is a villain through and through.

    1. It’s called American Typewriter, which I believe you can download for free here (and if you have a Mac, I believe it is one of the automatically installed fonts). πŸ™‚

    1. It has become infinitely better since Cinder, hasn’t it? Definitely impressive – there’s nothing better than to watch an author grow in her craft.

  16. I am sooooo jealous! I am twitching to get my hands on this book but I have to read the prior books first! I need more hours in the day!!! πŸ™‚

  17. You know, I expected to get a troubled childhood for Levana. That’s usually the case with villains, at least, the interesting ones, lol. I didn’t expect it to be that crazy though. Her sister was terrible! Of course, this doesn’t make up for how crazy she is, that family was just messed up in general. I loved how deeply delusional she was when it came to love, very interesting to read about. Love your review!

    1. Thanks Vi! And I completely agree – it was so horrible to read about, you know? But it definitely explains why she is the way she is, which is great. πŸ˜€

  18. I skimmed your review since I haven’t had the change to read this one yet, but I’m so curious to hear Levana’s story! Marissa Meyer has been amazing in all the books for this series, so I’m sure I’ll really enjoy this one too!

  19. Oooh psychology! I’m getting super excited about this. I need to get it from the library soon! I really liked the first three, and the deeper the writing gets the more I like it. *squeals*

    1. Haha…I’m the same way! πŸ˜€ It’s awesome to see how much Marissa’s writing has improved since Cinder. xD I hope you end up liking it as much as I did! ♥

  20. Great review, Zoe! As you know, I have just read Cinder and Scarlet and I’m currently reading Cress; I’m looking forward to Fairest, even though I don’t love reading from a villains’ POV but it will be interesting to learn more about Levana and see more of Luna.

    1. I hope you end up enjoying it as much as you did Cinder and Scarlet Chantelle! The villain perspective is really intriguing!

    1. I had the same fear Samantha, yet it turned out to be terrible unwarranted. Marissa did mange to get us to sympathize with Levana a little bit, but in the end she reminded us that she’s a villain through and through. And I know! The wait is going to be torture! πŸ™

  21. I think im the only one who didn’t like The Lunar Chronicles that much.. Well, I never really finished the first book but I do like the sound of the novella though! It would be interesting to read the villains perspective.

  22. I just checked out Fairest from the library earlier today, but I really didn’t know much about it or how much I would like it. Your review has really given me such a better sense of what it’s about. Now I really want to see the parallels to the other books and the Lunars’ perspective on things! The more I think about it, little is given in the series itself.

    I don’t know if you read the Grisha trilogy, but there’s also a really good short story from the perspective of the villain (the Darkling). If this is anything like that, I’m really pumped to start it!

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