Review | Fairest by Marissa Meyer

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.

4.5 cupcakes

I tend not to get along with novellas, but I just had to make an exception for Fairest – after all, The Lunar Chronicles is one of my new favourite series. While you don’t have to have read the first three books to appreciate Fairest, since any potential spoilers are fairly subtle, it’s more fascinating to learn about Queen Levana’s past when you know who she’s become.

As the title suggests, Fairest encompasses elements of the Snow White story. While there is an “evil queen” with a lovely stepdaughter, I was most intrigued by how Levana’s hatred of mirrors and obsession with beauty were explored. And what Levana looks like under her veil – not really Snow White related, but the reason for why her glamour looks the way it does is just… whoa.

I have a weakness for sympathetic, complex villains, and (surprisingly) Levana fits that bill. She has an incredibly low opinion of herself as a result of her sister’s abuse, and desires attention and affection more than anything else. As a result, she latches onto the first source of kindness that was shown to her: a married guard, Evret Hayle. This is unrequited love at its finest, and through it, we’re shown the lengths that Levana is willing to go to to hold onto her twisted ideas of love, power, and hope. This glimpse into Levana’s head was both sad and slightly terrifying, and I couldn’t help but feel sympathy for her; while it doesn’t excuse any of her actions, it’s hard not to pity someone who has (mostly) good intentions, but accomplishes them in the most self-destructive ways possible.

Overall, Fairest was a lot darker than the rest of The Lunar Chronicles books, but just as addictive. It painted Levana as a more real character without making her likeable, so I’m interested to see if knowing her backstory will colour my re-read of the series in any way. And, of course, I’m even more excited about Winter after those teaser chapters. Is it November yet?

Review | Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison–even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive. Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

4 cupcakes

Although I thought Cinder was good, its slow pacing and predictable plot twists kept it from being amazing. Thankfully,Scarlet addressed those complaints, making for a much easier and more enjoyable read.

I absolutely loved Marissa Meyer’s take on the Little Red Riding Hood story. It contained the identifying elements of the original fairy tale (Grandmother goes missing, Scarlet’s red sweater and, of course, the Big Bad Wolf) but all of these elements were given a sci-fi twist that made for an action-packed, unpredictable, and completely enthralling read.

Scarlet introduces us to several new characters that are consistent with the Little Red Riding Hood fairytale: Scarlet, a determined young woman for whom family comes first, and Wolf, a wolf-hybrid-turned-street fighter. I really enjoyed reading about both of these characters, and found myself fully supporting their inevitable relationship – even if it did feel like instalove (since they’d only known each other for a day, albeit an incredibly eventful one) and even if my mind couldn’t decide whether Wolf was the “good guy” or not.

Instead of containing only their story (as I had initially assumed), Scarlet and Wolf’s adventures intersect with Cinder’s – something that I was incredibly happy about, since I don’t think I could wait another whole book to find out how my favourite cyborg was doing. This also brought about the introduction of the charming Captain Thorne, who may or may not be my new book boyfriend. His banter with Cinder was so much fun to read, and I applaud Meyer for not forcing a love triangle along with his introduction.

Overall, Scarlet showed me exactly why everyone loves this series so much: it’s captivating, fast-paced, unique, and contains some of the most loveable characters. It’s safe to say that I’ll be starting Cress straight away.

Review | Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

3.5 cupcakes

Cinder started off very slowly for me – to the point where I was terrified that I’d be the black sheep who just couldn’t get into this well-loved series. Thankfully, the pacing got better as the story went on, and I quickly found myself immersed in this book.

I love fairytale retellings, so I’m quite surprised that it took me so long to give Cinder a try. It definitely draws inspiration from the original Cinderella story, however the creative liberties that Marissa Meyer took (which weren’t limited to cyborgs, a futuristic setting, and the Lunars) gave it a fresh, original feel.

Cinder is a wonderful protagonist. Despite the fact that Cinder’s a cyborg, she’s incredibly relatable – her insecurities are balanced by her strength and determination, and she’s incredibly intelligent and resourceful. As in the original Cinderella tale, Cinder faced prejudice and abuse yet didn’t break in the face of this adversity.

The secondary characters were crafted with just as much thought. From the handsome Prince Kai to the cold, somewhat terrifying Queen Levana, these characters all had distinct personalities. Iko and Peony, in particular, were two of my favourites: the cheeky android and adorable sister were not only loveable, but they also helped humanize Cinder by showing off her softer, more vulnerable side.

My only complaint is that the plot “twists” weren’t exactly a surprise; in fact, I had guessed the main one within the first 50 pages. While a certain amount of predictability is expected in retellings, it somewhat detracted from the mystery component of the story.

Overall, I can certainly see why this series has so much hype surrounding it; this unique twist on a beloved fairytale was really enjoyable, so I can’t wait to see where Cinder’s story goes next.