Title: Fairest – Levana’s Story
Series: The Lunar Chronicles
Author: Marissa Meyer
Genre: Teen Fiction
Star Rating (out of 5): **
I really wanted to love this series, partly because I enjoyed the first book, Cinder, so much. Cinder was creative, unique, and delightfully clean, with a selfless and smart heroine. I was thrilled that the love interest, Prince Kai, was kind, thoughtful, and committed to his duties as a king. He was a welcome relief from all the bad boys that are so popular in teen fiction.
My enjoyment of Cinder has made me even more disappointed as each book in this series (Scarlet, Cress, and now Fairest) has included more and more inappropriate content.
Fairest tells the back story of the series’ villain, Levana, queen of Luna, and her painful childhood, unmet desire to be loved, and rise as queen. The first half of Fairest revolves around 15 year old Levana lusting after and attempting to seduce a happily married man who is ten years older than she is. ***Spoiler warning*** (She eventually uses mind control to force him to sleep with her, in spite of his insistence that she is just a child and he does not love her) ***End Spoiler*** There are numerous references to her older sister’s many sexual encounters, including trying to seduce a bi-sexual man, and it is said that no one on Luna is monogamous anymore. Meyer even goes so far as to talk about blood on the sheets the night Levana loses her virginity.
Another problematic issue in the series is violence: characters are stabbed, shot, have their throats cut, die in childbirth, are burnt alive, have their feet cut off, are maimed, scarred, lose eyes, etc. Further disturbing is that a portion of this violence is done merely out the character’s sadistic desire to torture others. True, this is the story of the villain, but does that make it content that we want our 13 year old daughters filling their minds with?
It’s sad and frustrating, because Meyer is a talented writer. Her portrayal of Levana is very nuanced; you understand why she is the way she is in the series and pity her as much as you dislike her. It could have been a great book to use to talk with teens about complex issues of how cruelty can be motivated by insecurity, the power of compassion and grace, and what can happen when we choose to love unconditionally. It is incomprehensible to me why Meyer chose to ruin the books with so much content that is wholly inappropriate for young girls. So disappointing.