Meyer Month: Fairest!
Welcome to February 1, also known as the first day of Meyer Month! But first things first, I'd like to address the new 2020 covers for the Lunar Chronicles. They look STUNNING. The art is so great and colorful, and gives more insight to what the book is about than just a picture of a object. They should all be released by February 4, so if those heckers don't release in a box set I'm going to be hecking mad. The fact that the main series is getting a redesign makes me wonder if maybe Fairest or Stars Above will get new covers sometime in the future?? We Lunartics can only pray.
But without further ado, let's get on with the review! For the sake of your understanding, we will be the reviewing the series in chronological order, as opposed to publishing order, as if we were to start with Cinder things would be a lot more confusing. So the first book we'll be reviewing is the series prequel, Fairest! Please expect me to thrown in some random facts about the series. It will make it easier to understand later, trust me!
High above earth is the land of Luna, a moon colony turned monarchy by a man by the name of Cyprus Blackburn. (note: this entire series takes place ion the far future, around world war three and four.) The people who live on Luna, once normal humans, developed a trait that made them able to manipulate other's minds, but not all Lunars were born with this special power. Those without it are known as "Shells". A highly kingdom-based land, Princess Levana of the Blackburn dynasty finds her parents, the king and queen, have been murdered by a rouge shell. But neither she or her cruel older sister Channary are saddened by their death. Pushed into a fire by Channary at a young age, Levana relies on her Lunar abilities to disguise her deformities using a "glamour", hoping that if she can trick people into thinking she is beautiful, people will love her the way they love her naturally beautiful sister.
Once Channary becomes the new Lunar queen, she begins to develop a plague-like disease to take over earth, while Levana tries to talk to royal guard Evret Hayle, a older man Levana had admired for many years. Levana wanted nothing more than for Evret to love her, viewing his wife Solstice as an obstacle between them. When Levana discovers the couple is to have a baby, she is thrown into a rage, even going as far to impersonate Solstice, but accidentally letting Evret see. A few weeks later, and Evret and Solstice's child is born, but Solstice dies in childbirth. Seeing a opportunity, Levana, now more wise than before, manipulates Evret into loving her using her powers. Levana eventually convinces them to get married, accepting Evret's daughter Winter as her stepdaughter. But even with their marriage, Levana knows Evret's love her is fake and it's only a matter of time before she cannot trick him any longer.
Channary also has a daughter, but the father is unknown. After Channary dies from lung poisoning, Levana accomplishes her dream of becoming queen, but her throne is threatened yet again. Channary's daughter, Princess Selene, will replace Levana as queen once she turns thirteen. In order to prevent this, Levana starts a fire in Selene's playroom, and the princess is said to be dead, yet there are still rumors of Selene survviving. Having developed the formula to the disease Letimosis after he sister couldn't, Selene murders Evret in order to marry the emperor of earth to make an alliance, yet another part of her plan. Having nothing left to love, a planet to rule, and a alliance to build, the tragedy of Queen Levana carries on in the next book, Cinder...
During the rising popularity of the Lunar Chronicles series, before the last novel,
Winter came out, me and many others were surprised by the publication of Fairest, the story of the series' main villain. During the main story Queen Levana is only said to be a cruel, power hungry queen who will stop at nothing to kill Cinder. You know, like the stereotypical evil queen in fairy tales. All throughout the books you only get to see the merciless queen side of Levana, which is why Fairest is so interesting. As the Lunar Chronicles books are a retelling of the old fairy tales, Levana plays the part of the evil stepmother, (much like Cinder's stepmom Linh Adri) as well as the evil queen from Snow White. But unlike both characters from the original stories, Levana actually has a backstory, and one that might make some readers rethink their perspective on her. She was always living in Channary's shadow, forced to be ignored due to the burns her older sister gave her. Everyone seemed to love her sister more, even her parents, so no wonder she didn't care when they died. Still, perhaps their murder had some sort of impact on her, due to her future hatred of shells.
After reading many forums about Levana, I noticed lots of people torn about the Lunar queen. Some said they felt bad for her because of her upbringing, while others argued that she shouldn't be forgiven as she did many horrible things no one made her do. I believe I am somewhere in the middle with my opinions on Levana. Levana was abused by her older sister until she died, ignored by her parents and fellow subjects, and tormented by the fact her true love didn't like her the way she did. That kind of horrible childhood may of caused the emotionless acts she did, as she was shown love by no one, and ended up manipulating her Evret, her only friend. Some people also critiqued her because of her use of glamours and manipulation. While it is true that Levana shouldn't have used her abilities to hurt others as she did, it's important to note she grew up in not just a family, but an entire community where manipulation was completely fine and sometimes praised. On the Lunar Chronicles wiki it is stated that Levana's dad used his powers to get what he wanted quite a lot, so it wouldn't be unusual for his daughter to do the same.
All in all, it is rather odd to see such a tyrannical villain portrayed as a young girl, afraid, naïve, and unsure of what she wanted her future to be. Sure, she wanted to be queen, but what did that mean? Did deep down, Levana wanted more than just a loftey throne, for just someone to love her? She was deprived of any affection. When her feelings for Evret grew stronger, Levana convinced herself that since she loved him so much, he must've too. I could go on for ages analyzing Levana's character, but instead I shall leave you with this. Love makes people do crazy things, even create a army of wolf-human hybrids to track down a cyborg you tried to kill when she was the princess of the moon, and now are infecting the world with the second black plauge.