It’s no secret that The Lunar Chronicles is a fan favorite for most YA fans. After the perfection that is Cress, I could hardly contain my despair at having to wait for Winter’s release date. When Marissa Meyer (who is a literary goddess, I mean, she’s influenced by fairy tales AND Sailor Moon) announced that there would be a novella chronicling Levana’s backstory, I knew it would be fabulous. However, even I underestimated how #flawless it would be. Below are 5 reasons why Fairest is the standard to which I will forever hold all YA novellas up against.
Villainous Characters Everywhere
So often novellas are just add-ons and little side stories about the protagonist in the main series (which makes it frustrating when you don’t read it and feel like you’re missing out!) Fairest is a useful novella, because it explores the antagonists of the Lunar Chronicles series- yes, plural, because not only do readers get to learn Levana’s backstory, but also quite a bit about her twisted sister Channery! It was rather daring of Meyer to write a book from such a central villain’s perspective (because let’s face it, a lot of series have problems just alternating POVs between different protagonists). I would LOVE to read more books about villains!
Twists All Your Feelings
Speaking of villains, Meyer did an incredible job not only making Levana fascinating but made it eerily easy to empathize with her at times! Levana served as antagonist and protagonist in different capacities throughout the novella, and my loyalties kept shifting. I kept rotating between disgust and compassion and sometimes downright shock! (I mean, Channery was awful, but was Levana’s stoic confidence any better than her sister’s frivolousness? And can we talk about how totally DISTURBING the parallels are between Selene’s childhood traumas and Levana’s?!) Levana is no doubt twisted, but giving her such a fleshed out backstory makes me as a reader look at the series much more critically now!
It Builds a Better Backstory
While I appreciate that Fairest isn’t a necessary installment to understanding the continuity of the series (which too often novellas are), I love that I have a whole new wealth of backstory to apply retroactively to the series as well as to Winter. I feel better prepared for the last installment after reading Fairest, such as having a better grasp on Winter and Jacin as well as Levana, understanding the politics of Luna and how that impacts their negotiations with Earth, and I even gathered small, insightful tidbits about characters such as Kai. I also loved getting to know more about how the residents of Luna’s powers work, and loved getting to see the crazy customs and fashions put into practice and the grandiloquence of the Lunar lifestyle!
The Perfect Length
Can we also talk about how Fairest was a wonderfully long novella? Don’t you hate excitedly anticipating a novella (and paying for it) and it’s only 40 pages? As a voracious reader, 222 pages IS a short story for me! It allows the novella to build backstory, promote character development, and add layers to the overall plot of the series, rather than being 50 pages of a single romantic encounter or a childhood flashback. (Also, I love that I was able to buy a physical copy of this novella instead of it only being available as an e-book!)
It Can Hold Its Own
At it’s core, Fairest felt like a fairy tale, which is exactly what it is. Had I picked this up randomly without reading the rest of the series, it would have read as a fascinating, beautifully written short story about a sad yet sociopathic evil queen. It’s captivating on its own, and while reading it out of order may mildly spoil some elements of the series, it was written with enough independent, autonomous happenings and plots that it doesn’t feel like strictly a “bridge” book. Had Fairest been published on its own I would have still read it and loved it!
Fairest was my favorite read for the month of February, and gave me so much more respect for Marissa Meyer as an author because she was able to pull off such a compelling story from her series’ main antagonist. It’s without hyperbole that I say that Fairest is the best novella I’ve ever read, and hope that more YA novellas are written with similar lengths, intentions, and creativity.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- Fairytale Retelling Challenge
- Goodreads Challenge