Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Length: 222 pages
In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.
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.
Protagonist: So when I started out formulating this review I wasn't quite sure whether or not to relabel this section "antagonist" because while I understand that the protagonist is the one that drives the story regardless of morality, this still tells the story of the main antagonist of The Lunar Chronicles. In the end I obviously decided to keep it as a protagonist, because, as it was abundantly evident, Levana didn't begin as the cold manipulative and psychotic person we love to hate. In fact it's Channary, Selene/Cinder's mother who in many ways is even worse than her younger sister in "present day." While I do not condone anything Levana has done or will do in this book and the rest of the series, I did feel bad for her for most of the book. She in a lot of ways is just a victim of her own circumstance. She grew up with absentee parents who never showed her a shred of real love and a manipulative and abusive older sister. All she wanted was to love and be loved in return, unfortunately because her mind was so twisted she never got that.
"Romance": So I decided to put this category in quotes as the romance in this book is anything but real. In fact it's Levana's own delusion that Evret Hayle and she are meant to be that begins her downward spiral. Evret was the only guard to ever show her any true kindness that wasn't because of her standing as royalty, and because she had never seen real love for herself she clung to this even after finding out that Evret was already married and expecting a child. This "romance" in many ways is what drove her to the brink of insanity that we see in core series. It's hard not to feel a little sorry for her in the beginning but after a while in Levana's brain enough is enough.
World-Building: So when it was announced that we were getting Fairest before Winter, and that Winter was going to be delayed because of it, I was a bit upset. I didn't see what Fairest could bring to the table that really needed to be explained before Winter. While I still hold this to be true in some ways, there is a lot of information that really just help bring this world even more to life. We really get to see what life is like on Luna and learn about the royal family that Cinder was born into, which if I may say something, that fire may have been the best thing for her, I'm not saying had there been no attempt on her life that she'd be despicable, but judging by the track record for Lunar royalty, there was a pretty good chance. We really get to see what Channary was like, and while I knew she had been at least a little cruel or apathetic, I did not expect this. She is in many ways like Levana in the core series, except with next to no political ambitions aside from being and staying queen and then just letting the thaumaturges run the country. In the end I'm not quite sure which one is worse.
Predictability: Many, many of the events in this book readers of the Lunar Chronicles would already know or would have inferred from the first three books, which doesn't quite leave this book at a disadvantage, as this whole book isn't meant to show off events or introduce new twists for the series. Instead this book focuses on Levana's slowly declining mental state. Let's just say that there is one gigantic reason she is how she is that I haven't elaborated on and that was a rather large surprise.
Ending: So I was not expecting this book to end where it did. I was expecting it to end a bit closer to the start of Cinder, or even part-way into the first installment, however the biggest reason I wasn't expecting it to end where it did was that I was listening to the audiobook version and didn't expect the first three chapters of Winter to be on the audiobook. However, the ending was a very fine ending, and really ties up the central story as well as getting Levana from confused-lovestruck child to psychotic-tyrannical queen.
So, I wasn't quite sure that I was going to give this one five stars as the protagonist is the one of the least relateable character I have ever read, but this story was told so brilliantly that I almost forgive the author and/or the publisher for making us wait to read Winter. :)