Friday, October 2, 2009

Review: Fairest by Gail Carson Levine

Fairest by Gail Carson Levine book cover
by Gail Carson Levine
Publisher: Harper Collins, 2008

Young Adult Fantasy

Summary in a Sentence:

In the Kingdom of Ayortha, Aza, an unattractive woman with a magical voice, learns to balance her appearance with her talent, meanwhile, her singing attracts both Prince Ijori, who cannot resist it, and Queen Ivi, who plots to use it to benefit herself.

My Opinion:

"I was born singing. Most babies cry. I sang an aria."

What a stellar first line. What follows is Levine's tale loosely based on the fairy tale Snow White. All the basic elements of the ancient tale appear in some form or fashion in the novel: apples, fair skin juxtaposed with jet black hair, dwarves (or gnomeSnow Whites in this case), a charming prince, and a cleverly disguised wicked queen. I would definitely recommend reading Ella Enchanted first before reading this one; this book has some characters connected to Ella. It's not imperative that you do so; just helpful.

Song is an important concept in the book; the Ayorthaians value singing as their main form of expression. This fact leads to my only complaint for the book: lengthy passages of sung poems or verses are included in the novel and I confess I began to skip over them. I found the songs to be annoying after the first 8 or so. Perhaps others wouldn't find them to be as distracting as I did. I understand the need for them to be there; I just did not like the vast amount included.

One of the main themes of Fairest is an important one for the book's target audience: accept the way you look. You're unique and beautiful just as you are. Aza was just like any other teenage girl - insecure and too hard on herself. I think many YA readers could relate to the way she feels. This aspect of the novel is very applicable in today's appearance-driven society.

You might also like:

For author information, visit Gail Carson Levine's blog.


L said...

I've read a few reviews of this and you weren't the first to complain about the songs. (That made me think of TLOTR series and my eyes glazed over at the singing in that one.) Cute premise though and good for teen girls to read.
Thanks for your thoughts on this one.

Andrea said...

This is one of the few books that I recommend the audio over the actual book. It is so amazing in audio where all the songs get sung and it is beautiful.

A Bookshelf Monstrosity said...

Lula~ Glad to know I'm not the only one!

Andrea~ Ooh, I hadn't thought of the audio aspect! I bet that is a much more enjoyable reading experience :)

The Cozy Mystery Journal said...

Oh I like the look this one. I love all these new books coming out about Fairy Tales :)

This is definitely one for the wishlist. Thanks for the great review!

bermudaonion said...

I love the message of this book!

Veens said...

I like your read-alike feature.. that's so cool!

This is the 1st time I am seeing this book.. and actually i love that 1st line!

Unknown said...

You delivered another honest and well written review. Thank you for sharing & linking up!


Cackleberry Homestead said...

Great review - I have this book - I picked it up at my son's book fair last year for me. Thanks to your information I now have Ella Enchanted reserved at the library and I'll read that first.

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